What Is the Hidden Job Market? Plus Tips on Accessing It

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 27, 2022

Published January 29, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

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During a job search, you may notice that employers don't list all their open positions publicly. Instead, employers may rely on internal candidates to fill those positions or use recruiters to seek individuals well qualified for the roles. Using your professional connections and networking abilities can help you tap into this hidden job market.

In this article, we define what the hidden job market is and list 10 helpful tips you can use to access it successfully.

What is the hidden job market?

The hidden job market refers to jobs that employers do not advertise or publish publicly. Not publicizing these openings can help these employers save on the costs and time associated with posting and evaluating job applications or interviewing. To fill these jobs, employers may hire internally or use employee referral programs to find external candidates. Beyond saving costs, this method can help ensure high-quality candidates because employees already understand the company's expectations. This knowledge can enable them to move into that role themselves or recommend desirable and qualified candidates.

Tips to access the hidden job market

Accessing the hidden job market requires networking effectively to build your connections and learn about unseen opportunities. You can use the following advice as guidance for building your network and gaining access to hidden jobs:

Explore your current company

If you are looking for a change but enjoy working at your current company, you can ask around about internal opportunities elsewhere. Part of the hidden job market comprises companies with job openings intended for internal candidates. Connect with colleagues in departments that interest you and ask if they have any current or upcoming openings. Continue developing these relationships and staying in touch even if nothing is available immediately. Your connection to others at work and demonstration of interest could lead them to contact you when an opportunity arises.

Because you already have a job at the company, try to conduct this process discreetly. Depending on your relationship with your supervisor, you may not want them to know you are looking elsewhere. However, when an opening arises that you would like to apply to, have a conversation with them about your intentions. Focus on the positive aspects of the change, such as the new opportunities it provides, rather than discussing why you dislike your current job. They're likely to appreciate the honesty, and it can help them prepare to fill your place if the situation arises.

Related: 4 Tips on Applying To an Internal Job Posting

Reach out to existing contacts

Share your goal of finding a new job with your professional and personal connections. Help them by being specific about the type of jobs you are seeking or your preferred professional fields. If they do not know of existing opportunities at their companies, they can contact you if something arises. They might also connect you to someone at another company with openings. To keep these connections strong, interact with them regularly by sending friendly messages or sharing content you think they may appreciate. Consistent communication proves your continued interest and helps keep you top of mind.

Related: 7 Networking Tips for Getting a Job

Join networking groups

You can find networking groups related to your geographic area or your specific profession. These groups often serve as a resource for making new connections via regular meetings or networking events. Because the other networking group members are also seeking work, they may be eager to discuss advice for finding and applying for job opportunities. And they may hear about hidden jobs outside their areas of interest that they can share.

Think of finding a new job as a collaborative effort. Try to share insights you learn with your new networking connections to aid their searches, too. People may be more receptive to giving information or advice when they know you would do the same for them. As with your other professional connections, continue to stay in touch even after finding employment. You never know if someone might get a job at a company that you may want to work for in the future.

Use professional organizations

You can also learn about potential opportunities via alumni associations. Fellow alumni sometimes provide access to job openings not posted publicly. You can also join professional associations focused on your profession or field of interest. Companies in the industry may reach out to associations before posting openings publicly. These professional organizations also offer events to build your network with industry peers or alumni who work for your desired companies. These relationships can be helpful sources of advice for your search and potentially connect you to hidden opportunities.

Related: Q&A: What Is a Professional Organization?

Stay active on social media

Many of today's employers have social media profiles, so follow or connect with those that interest you most. You can also use them to identify key employees within the company. Try to build connections with these figures by engaging with their content regularly and respectfully, providing unique insights when possible to show your industry knowledge. If you can develop a rapport with these figures, you can reach out to them to express your interest and ask for an informational interview.

Remember to keep your social media profiles up-to-date with information about your current or most recent job responsibilities, accomplishments and skills. Stay active by joining and taking part in online groups related to your industry, along with posting original, relevant content on your profile. These tactics can help you stay engaged in your professional community and build your network. When your connections see your activity and demonstrable expertise, it can help you make an impression that could lead to potential opportunities.

Related: How To Network Virtually for Future Success

Connect with recruiters

Some employers use internal or external recruiters to find candidates for non-posted jobs. You can sometimes research and discover their internal recruiters via social media. If you decide to reach out to them, avoid asking for a job immediately. Try to build a rapport first and discuss the reasons behind your interest in the company. Then you can mention some of your relevant and beneficial skills. Match their level of engagement and give them sufficient time to respond. You do not want to overwhelm them by sending too many messages or pushing for a response.

Otherwise, you can learn about recruiting firms within your industry and connect with them. Many recruiters use social media to find candidates, which is another reason for staying active and keeping your profile updated. They may look within online groups or perform keyword searches. Make it clear what type of job you want or your industry of interest to aid their search. Try to use keywords from public job postings to fill out your profile and show that you have the relevant skills and qualifications.

Related: How To Reach Out to a Recruiter and Recruiter Outreach Examples

Contact employers directly

Rather than waiting for a job to open up at your dream company, you can show initiative by reaching out directly. When possible, use existing connections to point you toward the right hiring manager or do research to find them. To contact them, you can send an email or letter of interest or make a cold call. If you notice they are active on social media, you can even send them a private message to start a conversation.

When cold contacting a hiring manager, introduce yourself and showcase the skills, experiences and accomplishments that make you fit at their company. To do this effectively, research the company to learn how you align with its mission, values and culture. You can typically find this information on company websites, social media profiles or employee review websites. Because you are not reaching out about a specific job opening, you can research individuals who hold roles that interest you. Identify the skills that you share and mention them to show your value.

Related: How To Cold Call a Hiring Manager for a Job Opportunity

Pursue volunteering opportunities

You can find volunteering opportunities related to your profession or personal interests. If you discover opportunities at companies or organizations you want to work for, it can help you make internal connections and show your enthusiasm for their mission or values. Your volunteer work can also display the value and dedication you could bring as a full-time employee.

Pursuing volunteering opportunities related to your passions can also serve as an effective networking method. You can meet various people with similar interests who work in your preferred field or for companies you respect. As you build these relationships, you can show your interest in a new job and learn if they have any openings. Having referrals from internal employees can help make you stand out amongst other potential candidates.

Related: Benefits of Volunteering: 10 Reasons To Volunteer

Attend industry events

Pay attention to events related to your industry or profession, which you may hear about from the groups you belong to or your professional connections. Conferences or trade shows serve as opportunities to meet industry peers and decision-makers. Try to research the companies and attendees and set goals for yourself to focus your networking. When you plan the connections you want to make, it can help you use your time at the conference more efficiently. It can also help you plan out your conversation or elevator pitch to leave a memorable impression.

During your conversations, you can mention your interest in finding a new job or working for their company. If the other person seems receptive to your interest, you can share business cards or contact information. Try to make a note to follow-up within a week to discuss the idea further or set up an informational meeting. Your attendance at these events can also help make an impression on a potential employer. It shows your interest in growing your industry knowledge and developing professionally.

Related: How To Effectively Network at a Conference

Stay current on news

To stay up-to-date on the companies you want to work for, set up news alerts. While these alerts may not point you toward posted job openings, they can provide insights into company changes. For example, an article about a company's plans to open a new office can show that they may soon be hiring new employees to fill it. With this awareness, you can start reaching out to existing connections at the company or making new ones. If you get an informational interview or job interview, you can use these insights to demonstrate your interest and knowledge.

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