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Peek-A- Boo: Time to Abandon the Traditional Job Boards and Tackle the Hidden Job Market


Looking for a new approach to your job search? It might be time to tackle the hidden job market, which is a wealth of opportunities that are not yet advertised, as well as jobs that applicants proactively create where none currently exist. This source of opportunities has the potential to virtually eliminate some of the obstacles you might ordinarily face and have to expend precious resources to overcome.

In the hidden market, there are no gatekeepers to bypass because you will have eliminated the gates. The way you break down these barriers to entry is by placing your resume directly into the hands of the decision makers that you have determined will be most likely to make you a job offer.

One significant benefit of the hidden job market is that not only will applicants get to the hiring manager well in advance of the competition, in many situations there will be no competition at all: You are in control of the process. In most cases, you will be approaching the hiring manager before he has a vacancy to fill or realizes how he can benefit from the creation of a new role that just happens to be a perfect fit for your qualifications. And because (ideally!) you will only be targeting the opportunities for which you are the perfect fit, something I refer to as the Cinderella fit, this will greatly increase your chances of receiving an offer.

Knowing about the hidden job market and how to tap into it is a good thing—because you are essentially making a pitch for a position for which only you qualify. Despite these significant advantages, you would be surprised at how many job seekers resist the idea. Some say that it is hard enough finding a job among the vacancies that do exist—they do not have time to go on a scavenger hunt for opportunities that may never materialize. Others believe that if employers have hidden certain jobs from the public, they hid them for a reason and may not want outsiders to find them. Regardless of whether these are wise or accurate characterizations of the process, they are beside the point.

Remember, the modern workplace is loyalty-free and hiring managers work in the same loyalty-free workplace that you do. Why is this important? Because it takes time for hiring managers them to find the perfect fit for any given vacancy—and the time they spend sifting through resumes, setting up interviews, and meeting with candidates is time away from the other responsibilities they have to meet in order to do their job (and keep their bosses happy). By inserting yourself into the process—which is basically what you are doing when you reach out to hiring managers before vacancies are announced—you are actually doing the hiring managers a favor, while also starting the process from a position of strength.

So if the jobs are hidden where do you find them? Well, in some situations, the best jobs in the hidden job market are not hidden at all. This is because the greatest source of hidden job opportunities is usually at the company where you currently work. If you are unhappy with your current position, there may be other opportunities with your current employer in a different department, or a different role, or a different office. If you are not earning a competitive salary (or your level of compensation has peaked), you might be able to earn more by transferring to another area of the company. If you like your job, but do not get along with your boss, a transfer to a new department could resolve the situation.

This is not to say that you should stop looking for opportunities at another company if you think that is your best option. If you go that route, just know that you will have some obstacles to overcome—whereas if you pursue another position with your current employer, those obstacles will likely not even exist. Why? Because you are a known entity with a proven track record of performance. The company will not have to worry about whether you fit into its culture, while you know what it takes to work there and succeed. As soon as you learn that someone at your company is being promoted, see if the position that person is vacating might represent a promotional opportunity for you. As a current employee, you should have a sense of where the best opportunities are, and you should be able to pursue them before any outsiders even know they are available. Aside from the fact that you have access to information to which outsiders are not privy, you also know what it takes to get hired by that company because they have already hired you!


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