If you are considering or are in the midst of a job search, you have probably heard the term, “the hidden job market” and you may be wondering exactly what it is and what steps do mid-managers need to take to access the hidden job market. Check out these tips for accessing the mid-management hidden job market.

In the mid- to late-90s and early 2000s, job boards became the go-to mechanism for posting and applying to open roles. Both employer and job seeker alike quickly leveraged the power of the internet to post and respond to available opportunities, but widely distributed access to open roles brought some challenges. Human Resources personnel were soon overwhelmed with applicants and had to find a way to manage the process of sorting through applications to find the talent they were looking for which opened the door to the use of applicant tracking software (ATS).

With the success of social media and employers seeking cost-effective ways of reaching talent, employers began utilizing the “hidden job market,” a phrase that describes job opening that are not publicly advertise.

There are several reasons why companies may not publicly post a job opening, beginning with cost and overwhelm by the number of applicants to being uncertain of the qualifications needed for the ideal employee in a newly created role or when replacing an unaware existing employee.

According to the 2019 Job Seeker Nation Survey, the majority of job seekers still turn to traditional outlets in their job search despite the fact that 50% of applicants heard about positions through friends, 37% through professional networking, and 35% responded to positions posted on social media.

The Advantage of Accessing the Hidden Job Market

An employee referral provides a distinct advantage for the job seeker (less competition for mid-management level roles vs. openly advertised opportunities) as well as for the company (employee recommendations tend to reduce turnover as employees recommend applicants they believe are a good fit).

Action Steps Mid-Managers to Take to Access the Hidden Job Market

  • Let your network know you are looking for a new position.

    HiddenJob Action Steps

    It may not be who you know directly that will open the door to your next role but who your network knows.

  • Reach out to current employees at your target companies. Current employees are an excellent source of information. Ask for advice / inquire about workplace culture.
  • Consider approaching your target company directly by sending a Value Proposition Letter.
  • Help others. Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” Inform your connections about unadvertised opportunities that you know about.
  • Cultivate relationships with peers in other industries. Making connections at other companies can pay off.
  • Make yourself easy to be found. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and participate in discussions, post articles to position yourself as a thought leader, comment and share other people’s posts.
  • Follow companies you are interested in and interact with key influencers in the industry leveraging the power of social media.
  • Join online groups, opening the door to connect with influencers and thought leaders in your industry.

Bear in mind, exploring the hidden job market is just one possible way to connect with your next mid-manager role. However, it can be a strategy that pays off substantially vs. blindly applying to advertised mid-management roles and navigating the online application system. With less competition, your likelihood of landing an interview can be higher than seeking out a traditionally advertised opening.