February 6, 2021


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Finding a Job in the Hidden Job Market | Career Thoughts

4 min read

Finding a Job in the Hidden Job Market

Eighty percent of job vacancies are not advertised. As a result, searching want ads and job postings should represent only part of your job search plan. To be effective, job seekers must learn how to tap into the “hidden job market”.

What is the Hidden Job Market?

The hidden job market commonly is used to refer to jobs that are not advertised outside a company. Employers elect not to advertise openings for a number of reasons. They may be too busy or they may fill positions with internal applicants, from referrals or from word of mouth.

Some organizations continually receive applications and meet their recruiting needs by interviewing from their resume pool. Employers who are seeking ambitious candidates may elect to only interview those who take the initiative to approach their organization.

Common Types of Unadvertised Jobs

Internal jobs posted or known to exist within an organization

Only those who work for the company or know someone that does will hear about these positions. These opportunities may be the result of employee turnover, special projects or busy work periods. This is where networking can really pay off!

Internal postings restricted to current staff

These positions are first presented to staff to encourage promotion from within. If a suitable candidate is not found companies will then look outside. Get the jump on competition by applying early just in case. If an internal placement is made you may have the opportunity to apply for an entry-level position due to the domino effect.

Strategies for Investigating the Hidden Job Market:

Assess and Focus on Your Strengths and Interests

What do you know and what do you do well? What do you want to learn? What do you like to do?

Answer these questions to ensure that you can target your search and that your resume and communications with employers clearly indicate your strengths.

Research Occupations and Specific Jobs

Research job titles and responsibilities to help you target specific areas.

Investigate Industries and Employers

  • Attend Career Fairs and Company and Industry Information Sessions to network and learn about new opportunities.
  • Visit Company open houses: tour facilities, speak with employers and learn about hiring practices.
  • Use libraries and resource areas on and off campus to research industries, companies and professional areas and to seek new developments and growth.
  • Check company web sites to learn more and find external and internal opportunities.
  • Join Professional Associations: become an active member of groups related to your career interests, check out their web sites, events and publications.
  • Develop a List of Specific Employers and Appropriate Job Areas or Titles
  • List small and large companies who may hire in these areas. Collect addresses, URL’s and contact names.

Research companies to:

  • Learn about their recruiting practices.
  • Determine if the company culture is a good fit.
  • Discover their particular staffing needs and find ways to show that you can meet those needs.
  • Contact Employers
  • Use a networking or cold call strategy to introduce yourself.
  • Networking

Use your network of contacts to get the names of individuals in an organization.

Cold Call

Directly approach employers about possible vacancies by letter, phone or in person. If at all possible ask to speak to the person in charge of the area in which you wish to work as well as the Human Resources representative.

Explain your interest in the organization and job area.

Ask if the organization uses a resume bank, if it is commonly accessed to fill positions and how you may submit your resume.

Ask about how you can access jobs that are not advertised externally and learn more about potential needs. (Many companies have paper copies of internal postings available throughout their office staff, and lunchrooms are common locations).

Present employers with a customized professional letter and resume for each job title that interests you.

Follow up all communications with a professional thank you letter and periodic phone calls to touch base. Maintaining contact is critical to ensure your name becomes familiar and to show recruiters that you are keen. You may get lucky and happen to phone when a position becomes available.

If you are not comfortable with a directly approaching companies to seek job information consider volunteering as a way of accessing the hidden job market. As insiders, volunteers are exposed to internal and non-advertised positions. As a volunteer you can develop an understanding of the corporate culture and benefit from countless networking opportunities.


While searching the hidden job market is hard work, this approach is highly beneficial to job seekers. Investigation of the hidden job market allows candidates to learn about organizations and specifically direct their efforts.

Remember that approximately 80% of jobs are never advertised, thus unadvertised jobs competition is considerably less intense.

Think about it, the hidden job market is the key to your future career!

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