Leveraging Your Networks to Unlock the Hidden Job Market

Leveraging Your Networks to Unlock the Hidden Job Market

It’s conventional wisdom that we’ve heard a hundred times – in any job search, one of your strongest tools is your network.

It’s a tip that gets repeated often, but for good reason: there are thousands of jobs out there that simply never get formally posted.

Those unposted jobs are what many refer to as the “hidden job market.” Some estimates suggest that  80 to 85 per cent of all jobs fall into this category, according to the Financial Post.

“Current social media trends and technology advances allow companies to find applicants without listing a position,” according to Fred Coon, CEO of Stewart, Cooper and Coon, in the Post. “Some companies don’t like to advertise on job boards because of the cost. And the ones that are free aren’t a great option, either.”

So how can job-seekers crack this elusive market and gain access to this vast majority of job opportunities that are quite literally under the radar?

In a word: networks.

Networking Effectively

Most of us are well aware that using our networks to tap into opportunities is a key move in the job search. What’s less clear is how to use those networks effectively.

A good first step would be to thoroughly examine and map out your existing networks. Who do you know already? Who can introduce you to key contacts? And where are the gaps? Where might you need to do some legwork and expand your networks?

Once you’ve identified who you need to connect with, really think about how you are going to pitch yourself. What unique value do you add? Employers often prefer to hire specialists, not a jack-of-all-trades, according to career coach Donald Burns. Identifying your particular strengths and branding yourself as a specialist is mission-critical in this regard.

You can also target companies – and even individuals – instead of job ads. Create a list of all the companies you’d really like to work for, and then research who they key contacts are at those companies, says Burns. By reaching out to those key contacts with a resume and pitch, you will be getting on the radar of key decision-makers who you probably wouldn’t meet otherwise.

Reaching out to key players is a method that may require some patience, so in the meantime, it’s also a good strategy to establish your online reputation. Can you use your social media platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn to connect with others in your industry, share valuable resources, or even create your own content? That’s a great way to get your name out there, build credibility and a body of work, and connect with other leaders in your field.

It’s also a good idea to build and maintain relationships with recruiters, but don’t limit yourself to recruiting agencies. Many larger organizations have in-house recruiters – and they’d probably be more than happy to keep your resume on file for the next big opportunity

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