According the U.S. Department of Labor, 70-80 percent of all available jobs are never advertised. Companies will almost always try to fill a position by looking internally or by word-of-mouth before placing an ad online or even contacting a recruiter. Add in the jobs that currently exist only in the minds of busy hiring managers and key executives and you have a gold mine of opportunity if you’re looking to land a new position. By following a few simple steps for success, any job seeker can effectively assemble an action plan for mining the hidden job market.
1- Assemble a target list of companies you are interested in working for.
You’ll simply do a better job and be in a more fulfilling career if you are working for an organization that you truly believe in. There are many resources one can utilize in assembling a target list of organizations including business databases such as Hoover’s, Reference USA, and Dun and Bradstreet. All you need is a library card to access. Another solid resource is the Book of Lists for any major metro area published by The Business Journals which most public libraries will carry. Most any business today has a web site, so conducting a general internet search can also give you some solid leads. Shoot for a list of 50-100 companies.
Sign up for Google News Alerts. You’ll be among the first to know when a company leases additional office space, signs a big partnership deal or receives a new round of funding — all signs that the firm might soon be hiring.
2- Use social media.
Uncovering the hidden job market has gotten much easier with the advent of social media, with LinkedIn being the best resource. On LinkedIn, you can research your target companies and find people who may be in a position to hire you or offer some solid information on getting hired. You can also find 2nd level connections who can arrange meetings and make introductions on your behalf. LinkedIn has an InMail feature which allows you to send a direct message to someone at a target organization. Assemble a brief introductory email and ask the person for 10 minutes of their time via phone to ask them for some advice. You can then discuss the industry, outlook, etc., and how they think your skills may (or may not) be a fit. This is an excellent way for you to sell yourself in a compelling, yet tacit manner. Remember you’re not soliciting for a job, but simply gaining information. No one likes the “hard sell.”
Follow companies of interest on Twitter to gain up-to-date information regarding company and industry news and potential openings. Retweet interesting company posts and offer tips, advice and recommendations of your own to help build your digital footprint and e-Brand.
3- Develop a 30-Second Short Pitch.
The 30-Second Short Pitch is the most important tool any job seeker can have. Know what your business is and how you can create value for an organization. It’s tacky to carry a fist full of resumes everywhere you go, but your 30-Second Short Pitch can be a tool that’s always on the ready. Prepare in advance for situations where you’ll need to introduce yourself to a hiring manager, business owner, or networking contact that can assist you. Your pitch should include information regarding your job search target, experience, and most importantly how you can help an organization. I would recommend writing it out to organize your thoughts, however, the delivery should be conversational and not sound scripted, rehearsed, or memorized. Then, practice, practice, practice! It should be fluid and conversational but never forced or come across as a “sales” pitch.
4- Network it!
More people are hired through networking than any other job search technique, so start reaching out to people for coffee, lunch, or even a short phone call. Emailing is not networking. Rather than asking for a job, discuss you job search target with your networking contact and then ask if they have any tips, advice or recommendations (think: TAR). People generally love to help other people, so even though you may not get a solid job lead, so may gain an introduction to someone what can make things happen for you.
Also, attending networking events both inside and outside your target industry are extremely beneficial. Use these events to try out your 30-Second Short Pitch and see how many leads or contacts you can gain. Before adjourning any networking conversation, always remember to ask how you can help them as networking is a two-way street.
5- The “direct approach” still works in certain instances.
Contacting a hiring manger in-person still works for certain types of businesses like retail, restaurants, and other organizations that deal with the general public. Dressing up, showing up, and asking for a hiring manger can still garner outstanding results in a few target industries.
Sure, embarking on a proactive job search takes guts. You’re risking rejection, dismissal, and apathy from your prospects and contacts. It’s a lot easier to hide behind a computer and blindly apply to online ads. But you’re going to be in for a long, long search. Compared to searching for positions on major job boards in which only one in every 100 job seekers will find employment, mining the hidden job market can substantially shorten your job search time and is the only job search technique where the odds are actually with you. That equates to thousands of extra dollars for you in gained rather than lost income. All you have to do is have some courage and a good value proposition. So as Nike says, Just Do It! Good luck!