Friday, 28 October 2011

Accessing the Hidden Job Market


Not all jobs are advertised and the hidden job market is thought to contain up to 80-90% of the available jobs. That means that if you are only focusing your job search efforts on advertised vacancies, you're missing out on the majority of available job opportunities.

Networking is by far the most effective way to tap into the hidden job market. 
  
Professional Networking
One of the most effective ways to network is to build grow your professional network. The following activities can help you build your professional network:

  • Joining and participating in online professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn 
  • Joining and participating in industry/trade groups or associations
  • Attending and networking at industry events such as trade fairs and conferences 
  • Attending and networking during training courses, workshops and seminars 
It's important to remember that just showing up or participating in these activities won’t land you your next job. You'll need to learn the art of networking which requires you to be proactive in your approach. By connecting and communicating with people, you can develop professional relationships with the potential to open doors to available job opportunities now or in the future. 

There are many books and resources to help guide you in developing your networking skills or you can consult a career counsellor/coach. One book I recommend is “A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market” by Katharine Hansen.

Aside from professional networking, here are some other ways to access these hidden job market:

Informal Networking/Word-of-mouth
Informal networking or word-of-mouth is when you let family, friends, friends of friends  know you are actively seeking work in the hope they let you know about job opportunities. This kind of approach can have the added advantage of being recommended for a role through your network.


Recruitment Agencies and Head Hunters
Recruitment agencies and head hunters act on behalf of employers seeking out specialist talent. If you have specialist skills and experience, it's wise to develop a relationship with a recruitment agent who specialises in your industry. Even if they don’t currently have a suitable vacancy, they may be able to call upon their own contacts to seek out opportunities on your behalf.

You can identify recruitment agencies in your industry area through job search sites where they often advertise hard-to-fill vacancies. You may also be able to learn about reputable recruitment agents and head hunters through contacts gained from your networking activities. If you already have contacts in the industry, ask them if they can recommend a recruitment agent or agency.


Work Experience Placement
Undertaking a work experience placement with an employer can be an excellent way to get a foot in the door with a company. Once through the door, you'll have the opportunity to prove your worth as a potential employee and gain valuable contacts. Make sure you are on your best performance during the placement by demonstrating reliability, integrity and a good work ethic. At the very least, you can ask for a reference from your work experience placement supervisor and include the experience in your resume/CV.

Graduate Recruitment Programs
Many large organisations conduct recruitment drives at universities and colleges at certain times of the year. It’s a good idea to keep in contact with the career advisory service at your university or college early on to be kept in the loop about when these events take place. A company’s own website can be a good place to research graduate recruitment programs. You can also contact a company’s human resources department directly to ask about their graduate recruitment program which will demonstrate a genuine interest in the company and its graduate opportunities.

Direct Approach
Contacting potential employers directly can be a good move particularly when you have information about upcoming projects and increased staffing needs. The first step before approaching potential employers is to spend some time researching them. It’s a good idea to learn about the company, including the products and/or services they offer, current staffing, the history of the company and plans for the future. Much of this research can be done online via the company’s own website and through some strategic online searches.

Your research will also enable you to effectively tailor your cover letter using the right terminology relevant for the position you are putting yourself forward for. Although sending a letter or email is typical, you can also telephone or visit a potential employer in person. The approach you choose will depend on the company, geographical location and the position being sought. It is also acceptable for your first approach to be via letter or email and to follow up by telephone.

Use as many of these methods as possible and keep a detailed log of your activities so you can monitor your activities and progress. Keep a journal or computer spreadsheet containing contact details, follow-up dates and outcomes.

Accessing the hidden job market should be viewed an exciting challenge rather than a daunting task. Embrace the challenge, follow our tips and you’re bound to land the job you want!



Lisa LaRue, MCareerDev, BSocSc(Couns), DipCareerGuid, MCDI is a Career Development Consultant & Career Coach at CareerWorx www.careerworx.co.uk 

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