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Part 2: Implementing Your Job Search: Tapping the Hidden Job Market (PUSH)

By Susan P. Joyce

Step 5 in Part 2: We all hear that "most jobs" (75% to 85%, reportedly) are not posted on Web job boards or advertised in the newspaper. These invisible jobs are the infamous "hidden job market," and you reach this gold mine of jobs by networking your way into it.

Networking is not a "quick fix" (nothing is, if you haven't already noticed). But you can take steps that will make your job search much shorter, and networking, done well, is the closest thing there is to short cut to a new job.

"Givers get" is the mantra of successful networking. Help others succeed or find what they need, and they will return the favor. Establishing a good network will make your next job search easier - just don't drop it as soon as you find your next job.


Techniques for Tapping into the Hidden Job Market?

1.) PUSH - Reach out to the hidden job market

2.) PULL - Bring the hidden job market to you 

3.) MAINTAIN - Keep your network alive

1.)  PUSH: Reach Out To the "Hidden Job Market"

Reach out to potential employers and potential co-workers, but reach out socially as a student, colleague, business colleague, or mentor not as a job seeker.


One of the most effective ways to reach out is to volunteer to help a cause (or a candidate) important to you. There are many benefits to volunteering. Particularly when you are unemployed, volunteering can be a great way to add new skills and experiences to your resume, meet new people with whom you share something important, and get out of the house for a good reason. It's good for your spirits to help someone else, and it gives you something concrete to discuss when an interviewer asks you about what you did during "the gap" between jobs.

When ever possible, volunteer to do something that adds experience and new skills to your resume so that both you and the organization benefit from your time investment.

Volunteering is also an excellent way to fill a "gap" in employment when you are unemployed for several months.

Volunteering can also be wonderful networking! You'll be meeting and working with new people for a common cause. More about volunteering:

Real - and Virtual - Social Groups

Even if you consider yourself to be very shy, these groups can be very helpful in connecting you with potential employers and co-workers, and they can also help you stay up to date with what is happening in an industry or profession.

  1. Social Networking Websites are becoming more and more popular and important methods of connecting with people you know and even, carefully, meeting new people.

    For professionals in a job search, LinkedIn is used by many the majoring of recruiters. They find candidates qualified for their job opportunities by searching through the LinkedIn Profiles.  Read the Guide to LinkedIn for Job Search articles for more tips and information about leveraging LinkedIn for your job search.

    Social networks work by offering people the ability to create, or to manage, a public profile telling people who they are and what they do and reaching out to friends and colleagues to enable them to reach people they may need to contact for their business, their job, or their job search.

    Recruiters do use these sites, especially LinkedIn, to find qualified people for their open jobs, so they are a very important alternative to job boards - in many cases a more effective alternative.

    For much more information on using social media sites, read the articles in Job-Hunt's Guide to Social Media and Job Search Section on using social media, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, and scan the resources for job seekers.

    In addition, check out Job-Hunt's 2 FREE Job-Hunt Guide ebooklets on Branding and Your LinkedIn Profile and LinkedIn for New Graduates.
  2. Professional/Industry Associations and Societies are usually plentiful and very useful for job seekers. They can help you in more traditional situations when you add the association's name to your resume (in a professional or industry affiliations category, for example), and that name is used as a keyword by a recruiter searching through an applicant database on a Web search engine.

    Many association websites offer member directories and may also list local chapters where you can meet people face-to-face. Often an association website will also have a job board where employer members can post their jobs or where members can share opportunities.

    See the Guide to Job Search Networking articles from Job-Hunt's Job Search Networking Experts for ideas and strategies on meeting people and becoming comfortable attending meetings, particularly if you're a bit on the shy side.
  3. School Alumni/ae Associations - your college alumni/ae association can be a very useful resource (your high school, too, if they have an alumni/ae network). Many schools offer the use of the career center to alumni and tap into the network represented by all the other people who attended the same school. It's also an opportunity to connect, hopefully, with old friends as well as meet new people you share an important life experience with.

    If you don't know the URL for your college or university Web site, find it in the University of Texas Austin's directory of U.S. Higher Education, which includes both universities and community colleges, or the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada's Canadian Universities list by province.
  4. Employer Alumni Associations - many groups are forming of people who are former employees (a.k.a. "company alumni" groups). Sometimes, they are supported by the employer who sees them as a good source of trained and qualified applicants if needed. More often, they are just groups that get together occasionally or exchange e-mail, and stay in touch. Check out Job-Hunt's Company, Military, and Government Alumni Networking Group Directory to connect with this great source of jobs.
  5. Join a job club or job hunting support group - members of these groups provide moral support and assistance to each other as well as an extension of that critical personal network. Need a contact inside a specific company? Ask the members of your group if they know anyone there. Need another set of eyes to look at your resume? Ask the members of your group for help. Of course, you can also demonstrate your intelligence, professionalism, ethics, experience, etc. by helping members of the group in return.

    It probably goes without saying, but don't be a "user." Look for ways you can help other members, and the help will come back to you. Support groups can be a win/win situation, and, sometimes, the critical link between you and the perfect job in the Hidden Job Market.

    To create a support group of your own, check out the excellent advice in Through the Brick Wall: How to Job Hunt in a Tight Market by Kate Wendleton. And, Barbara Sher's Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want (FREE!) provides a how-to guide for creating your own "success team" - a small group of people who mentor (encourage, assist, and - yes - nag) each other to reach their individual goals - excellent for job searching or help reaching any other goal you have. Your success team is your own personal board of directors.

    In the U.S., ask your local state Employment Office for assistance in finding an existing support group, or check with local churches to see if they have any groups meeting in their facilities. Also, visit your state's page of Job-Hunt's Directory of Employers, Resources, Jobs, and Careers by State in Job-Hunt and try the Networking and Job Search Support Groups links.

    Bring copies of your current resume and a list of employers you want to reach. Ask other attendees if anyone knows the organizations and can help you identify and reach the appropriate hiring managers. Have agendas, action items, and a focus on positive action to find a job.
  6. Online discussion groups - there must be hundreds of thousands of FREE discussion groups, each based on a topic. Find a topic that interests you, and join the list or the group. They can be an excellent source of information and also mis-information, so be cautious about believing everything you read.

    If they allow members to post comments or questions, "lurk" for a while (just monitor the postings without participating) to see what the rules of conduct seem to be. When/if you decide to participate, be sure that your posting is relevant to the subject and well-written (good grammar and spelling).

    If you are a LinkedIn member (and you really should be!), check out the LinkedIn Groups and join the Groups appropriate for you and the job you want.

    Join the "Discussions."  Read the "News" and post links to good articles you find.  Scan the "Jobs." They are good places to both learn from others and raise your own personal visibility. 

    Be sure to join Job-Hunt's Job-Hunt Help Group on LinkedIn if you are in an open job search. 

    Find searchable lists of groups to join at Google Groups ( and Yahoo Groups.

    As usual, be very careful of your privacy when you join any of these groups.  Use a throw-away e-mail address for participation (e.g. a Yahoo or Gmail account), protecting your privacy when you register for your account.

    You'll have the greatest success with most groups, online and offline, by being a resource to others. If you pursue others for assistance but don't provide assistance (or provide poor assistance) in return, you don't present yourself as an ideal co-worker. Don't be afraid to ask for help, but be careful if that's all you do.

    Whatever you do, don't send a "nastygram" to someone on the list! People have lost job opportunities because they have demonstrated an apparently nasty temper in an open discussion.

    Tip: If you wouldn't be comfortable having your mother, grandmother, or new boss read your message on the front page of the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, don't hit the "send" button! These messages are very public! Employers and recruiters do "Google" job applicants so be careful to leave a good impression, even in a so-called "private" group.

The Media and Business Press

These are great sources of information! Look for companies that are entering into new markets, announcing new products and services, hiring a new senior manager or CEO, and/or buying large ads or commercials. They may need more people, even if they haven't announced or advertised their expanding needs.

Most business publications research and collect information on businesses in their area which are frequently published in "lists" (e.g. every edition of the weekly Boston Business Journal contains a list of the top 25 somethings in the Boston area - top 25 law firms, top 25 hospitals, top 25 advertising agencies, etc.). These are collected in an annual book of lists which is very handy.

Every year Fortune magazine does a list of the largest employers in the U.S. - the "Fortune 500®." (See Job-Hunt's lists of links to the Fortune 500 by sales rank.) Every year, Forbes magazine does it's own list of the largest employers.

Find local, national, and international newspapers by region in Yahoo's Directory of Newspapers by Region.

For additional networking tips and ideas, see Job-Hunt's Guide to Job Search Networking for more articles and resources about job search networking.

Next - PULL - Bring the Hidden Job Market to You!

You've learned ways to reach out to potential employers (PUSH, above). Now, learn PULL - making yourself visible in the right areas and the right ways so that employers reach out to you.

About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.

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