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Jobs are More Plentiful in the Hidden Job Market

Updated on July 7, 2012

Hidden Job Market Defined

Check out the job market today – and with official unemployment approaching 10% many people are doing just this – and you will soon encounter the term hidden job market.

The term hidden job market appears in numerous phrases such as secrets of the hidden job market,uncovering the hidden job market, navigating the hidden job market, and so on.

But what is the hidden job market?

The answer is simple – the hidden job market is nothing more than job opportunities that have not been advertised in public media. It also refers to discovering positions that employers, as yet, begun looking to fill.

Hidden Job Market

Many "Hidden" Jobs are Ones An Employer Hasn't Gotten Around to Advertising Yet

Jobs which an employer has not yet begun looking to fill include positions or jobs in which the current holder of the job has given notice that he or she will be leaving the organization but has not left yet.

It also includes positions in which current holder has been scheduled to be promoted to a new position or transferred to another part of the organization and the employer has not yet begun the process of looking for a replacement.

A job that currently doesn’t exist can also be a situation where the organization has been expanding and the managers know that they will have to hire more people but haven’t yet created the needed positions.

Finally, changes in the industry or technology may present challenges for an organization but those responsible for running the organization either don’t realize this or realize it but haven’t yet figured out what is needed and prepared a job description.

Job Market Described

Despite the lack of publicity, employers do find employees to hire for these positions and savvy job seekers do find and get hired for these positions. The key here is knowing how to locate and explore the hidden job market.

The job market, like any other market, is simply the meeting ground where employers seeking workers and individuals seeking employment come together to connect and do business.

In the job market employers are seeking to purchase the labor and skills needed for their business while individuals are seeking the opportunity to utilize their labor and skills to make money.

The goal of the job market, like that of any other market, is to bring the buyers of skilled work (employers) together with the sellers (those seeking work) of such skills.

Advertising is Used by Both Employers and Job Seekers

A common way for these two groups to discover each other is to advertise.

The more common ways employers advertise is by listing job openings in the classified section of newspapers, listing job openings with online job sites or hosting or attending job fairs.

Job seekers also advertise their availability.

This is done by posting profiles and resumes on online job sites as well as mailing (via email or snail mail) resumes to potential employers or registering in person or online with the Human Resources (HR) departments of large organizations.

Advertising Has Some Benefits

Advertising, even targeted advertising (i.e., when say a high tech company seeks engineers by limiting advertising for job openings to ads in engineering journals) is scatter gun approach where an employer or job seeker attempts to get their message to a large mass of people in hopes of finding a match.

It is like a fisherman casting a wide net and pulling in a large number of fish and other things.
For an employer, advertising is fine if the objective is simply to find warm bodies to operate an assembly line or harvest a tomato crop.

Also, if an employer is having a difficult time finding the right person, advertising can result the gathering of a large pool of potential workers which can then be searched in an attempt to find the right person.

For a job seeker advertising can also be a useful tool for uncovering potential employers or positions for which the job seeker is not aware.

Costs and Disadvantages of Advertising

However, advertising has costs over and above any fees charged by the media in which it is published. Because one is casting a wide net with advertising the result will be responses to the advertising by more than just the candidates the advertiser is seeking.

For instance, an employer advertising a job will often get responses from a number of people who, rather than seeking employment with that employer, are simply making the required number of weekly or monthly job search contacts needed to continue receiving their unemployment or welfare checks.

Others, who lack the required qualifications for the advertised job, may be applying simply in hopes that by some quirk of fate they will get the job.

The same is true of advertising by job seekers. Add the word finance to your profile or resume on an online job site and every insurance agency in the area will contact you with offers to sign you up as an agent (working on commission only) selling their insurance products.

Because of these costs of having to deal with numerous unwanted job applicants or job offers that come with advertising, many employers and job seekers resort to a more targeted, low profile approach.

How to Effectively Network and Find Hidden Jobs

Networking is Key to Finding a Job In Hidden Job Market

Rather than using advertising to broadcast their search, employers and job seekers attempt to locate the employees or jobs they are seeking via word of mouth.
In other words, both rely on trusted sources to direct them toward employees or employers that match their criteria.

This method of quietly searching by employers and job seekers is what makes up the hidden job market.
It is hidden only in the sense that the searching by both sides is carried on in the background and not openly using publishing or broadcasting outlets.

The best way for job seekers to tap into the so called hidden job market is by building and using a network of connections from whom they can gather information about potential unadvertised jobs as well as helping them spread the word about their skills and their desire to find a place to employ their skills.

Employers also have networks through which they gather information and leads about potential employees for the positions they want to fill. These networks include their employees, professional headhunters, contacts with other businesses, etc.

Cold Calling is Another Tool for Finding Jobs in Hidden Job Market

While networking is a necessary tool for obtaining leads and other information that helps one to find unpublished jobs, it is not the only tool.

Another great tool is cold calling, which is the act of contacting Human Resources Departments and hiring managers directly.

While most large and many medium sized businesses, in the United States at least, require people to apply online rather than in person, many small and many medium size organizations don’t have web sites with online job application pages.

This lack of an apply online requirement means that you can contact these organizations directly.
While email, snail mail and even fax or telephones can be used, in person is best. That is the applicant dressing for an interview, having some resumes ready and visiting the business in person to inquire about applying for work.

Job Search Strategies - Cold Contacts

Research Can Make Your Search More Efficient

While a person can simply go door to door looking for work, it makes more sense to do some research to find what organizations have or have a need for the type of position you are looking for.

This will not only save you from wasting time visiting organizations that have no need for the type of position you are seeking.

Research will also save you the embarrassment of showing your ignorance when you waste someones time asking to apply for a position which an organization doesn’t have and doesn’t need.

Worse than the embarrassment and waste of your time is the wasting the time of the person you speak to at the organization.

People generally like to help other people.

Often when you come across as sincere and knowledgeable, the person whose organization has no openings in the position you are seeking will take some time to offer suggestions and even point you toward places that the person knows might have openings.

Cold Calling Can Also Be Used With Large Organizations Requiring Applications Online

In the case of large organizations that have a formal hiring process you can still try to make contact with managers within the organization.

While the Human Resources Department is responsible for recruiting and vetting of applicants, it is usually department managers who do the interviewing and make the hiring decision.

While a manager may not be able to bypass the formal hiring process and simply hire you directly.

They can direct you to the Human Resources Department and can often put in a good word for you.

If the manager you contact is the one making the hiring decision, having met and made a good first impression before starting the process gives you a good head start.

While it is usually, but not always, difficult to simply walking into a large organization and wander around introducing yourself, there are indirect ways to meet hiring managers.

A Way to Get Past Gate Keepers in Large Organizations

One way is to see if anyone in your network knows a decision maker in the organization in which you are trying to make contact.

A second way is to attend networking and other public events in which managers from organizations for which you would like to apply to are likely to also attend.

While it is best (and definitely easier) if a mutual acquaintance is available to introduce you to the person or persons you want to meet, there are frequently opportunities as such events for you to simply walk up and introduce yourself.

A final common way is to list all of the people you know or have had contact with through work (at both your current and former positions) or through church, organizations at which you volunteer and your social circle.

This last example is actually networking and, ideally, you will have developed a good formal network relationship with these people.

However, if you haven’t developed and maintained the relationships needed for a formal network or if your formal network doesn’t include people who can make the introductions you need, then go back through your contact lists, email address lists, etc. seeking anyone you ever met who might be able to help you.

Calling such people can be difficult, but so is being unemployed.

Many won’t know the people you want to be introduced to. Others may be reluctant to assist you either because they have no recollection of ever meeting you or feel they don’t know you enough to feel comfortable introducing you to the people you are seeking to meet.

Hidden Job Market Can Be Best Place to Find a Job

Whether you are unemployed and looking for work or currently working and feel you need to change jobs to advance your career, the hidden job market could be your best option for finding that job quickly.


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    • mollymeadows profile image

      Mary Strain 

      6 years ago from The Shire

      It always makes sense to job-hunt where most people don't think to look. Good advice!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Terrific article. And in this job climate when there so many out of work, networking and showing up in person seem to be excellent ways to secure a job. Thanks for writing this. Sharing/

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      6 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      American_Choices - thanks for visiting and for your comments.

      Like you, all of my jobs over the years have been through networking and cold calling. While the name "hidden job market" is relatively new, when I first heard this term and learned what it referred to I gave it some thought and I could only think of two part-time jobs that I obtained through published advertising. All of my other jobs during my career have been found in the hidden job market.

    • American_Choices profile image


      6 years ago from USA


      My sociology professor at Marquette hit this home the very first day of class and it has served me well throughout my career. Her question was what makes you successful in business? Her answer after all of us did our best - was who you know.

      Throughout my career, all of my jobs that I have had were "hidden" - they were referrals. I have interviewed for positions that I didn't even want and they referred to me over a fantastic position.

      This is critical information for us to remember to market ourselves. This is important not just for getting a job but being promoted to the next job.

    • agaglia profile image


      6 years ago

      interesting hub. I did not know about this.

    • sweetie1 profile image


      6 years ago from India

      Hi chuck, I dont know about job market as i havent had a job ever but this was a wonderful hub. If i ever want a job now i know i can spread word with my friends with jobs so i might get job easily as these are hard time for job seekers and this help can be very handy.

    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 

      6 years ago from Aurora

      Bingo on your quote "simply making the required number of weekly or monthly job search contacts need to continue receiving their unemployment or welfare checks."

      This is discussed in detail in the book "Canned" which I reviewed

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      6 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      sweetie1 - thanks for visiting and sharing your example. While it is usually not this fast, this is how the hidden job market works. And, as you pointed out, this type of hiring is a win for both employer and job seeker as both benefit.

    • sweetie1 profile image


      6 years ago from India

      Hi chuck, recently a guy from an office resigned and one common friend worked in that office and before anyone knew about that vacancy, he was able to get that job for his brother. This way employer had a employee on the day older one left and he didnt had to spend money on looking for a new guy and my friend's brother got the job before compitition moved in. So this benefitted both. This happens in India all the time because otherwise for everyjob there are countless guys trying for it.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I am ever so greatful that I am not in the market for a job. Being safely?!? retired is not without its troubles and worries.

    • profile image

      Nan Mynatt 

      6 years ago

      Chuck I marked you up on this one. I think that a lot of people needed this information in searching for jobs.

    • Clarke Stevens profile image

      Will Mays 

      6 years ago from North Kingstown, RI, United States

      Great article, Chuck! And extremely timely!

      I can't tell you how many people I know who've been hired based on 'word of mouth' -- someone suggesting a friend of a friend. And most before the position is made public.

      It seems having good contacts in Facebook and LinkedIn could pay off.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      An interesting take on today's current situation for jobs. Some things work better than others: the networking potential of the internet hasn't been fully exploited yet for the job seekers. Keeping your ears tuned to the jungle drums is a necessity. The "better" jobs are the ones that aren't currently being advertised.

    • nenytridiana profile image


      6 years ago from Probolinggo - Jawa Timur - Indonesia

      An informative hub. I like to learn more about that. Thank you chuck!


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