By David Rose

Nearly 8 out of 10 jobs vacancies in the United States are never advertised. These positions are filled internally (promotion/succession), through networking (online and in real life), and by way of referrals (from both, inside and outside the organization).

Too often, candidates spend too much time focused on the remaining 2 of 10 jobs. Searching for a new job opportunity is an emotional journey. It’s taxing on you, your family, and your friends. For most candidates, finding a new job is a chore, not something they’re passionate about. After all, finding a job is what most people do when they are desperate, frantic, and ill-prepared. Sadly, focusing on only 20% of the available jobs severely limits your ability to find your next great job opportunity.

Why is there a hidden job market?

There is a hidden job market because employment is fluid. At times, companies ramp up their hiring. Other times, they shrink or re-appropriate roles and responsibilities. Because of the ever-changing nature of desired skills and specialties, a hidden job market exists.

Jobs openings are not always posted due to confidentiality related issues (e.g. the incumbent is being replaced or promoted).

The company is shopping for talent. Companies often test the waters to validate their existing talent pool.

Growth. The company is planning for expansion.

Unplanned departure. The person in the role most recently quit, unexpectedly, and no internal person possesses the necessary skills and experience to take on the role.

Cost. Many companies choose not to advertise vacancies because of the expenses related to posting on job boards. Free job boards often create more work for employers since they are forced to spend a great deal of time screening out unqualified applicants.

How can you tap into the hidden job market?

Foster your existing network. Be an industry information source. Stay in contact with your contacts a few times throughout the year. Share job opportunities or industry information that may be of interest to your contact(s). Personalize your communication whenever possible. You will gain credibility with your contact, and a desire to reciprocate will develop.

Establish a new network. Find the right networking group(s). There are so many networking groups to choose from. Real life and online groups can be a valuable stream of information about industry, innovation, and open positions. You should always be expanding your network. Groups, Associations, Chambers of Commerce, and charitable organizations open new doors. Volunteer your time, and support an initiative. It will get you noticed, and may lead to entirely new options.

Build and maintain relationships with recruiters. Recruiters spend their days communicating with employers. Make it a point to check in, update your resume, and keep your recruiter up to date on your status. When you are contacted by a recruiter, respond with a sense of urgency. Timing matters in job search. The best recruiters offer knowledge, validation, resources, and advocacy.