Did you know that most jobs are not advertised? It’s true. You can scour job boards and newspapers as much as you like. But according to sources like the Wall Street Journal, somewhere between 70% and 80% of jobs aren’t advertised at all. Just think of all the opportunities out there—wouldn’t it be great if you could find them?
Well, you can. The trick is to broaden your search. The question of how to find jobs not posted online is an easy one to answer: start searching offline. But then you also have to consider jobs advertised directly by employers, and positions that are only advertised internally. Still, even by capturing just a small amount of these jobs in your search, you improve your chances of a successful outcome.
What Is the Hidden Job Market?
It’s a term that refers to jobs which aren’t advertised online, or by a sign in a window. There are many reasons why some employers don’t bother advertising jobs: cost, for example, or because they want to keep a tight-knit team and only hire employee referrals.
The range of jobs is just as broad as the ones you’ll find in any newspaper or on any job board. That means you can find anything from basic entry-level jobs, all the way up to executive positions. In fact, the vast majority of good jobs are hidden and not on online job boards.
So, why is the hidden job market something you should be thinking about? It’s not just about the sheer number of jobs that aren’t advertised.
It’s also about:
- Increasing your chances of being hired because there’s less competition
- You have a readymade ‘reference,’ a friend at a business
- Saving yourself the time it takes to tailor your resume and cover letter
The only problem is finding these opportunities. There’s a steep learning curve when it comes to networking and getting your name ‘out there,’ but once you’ve established yourself and built up the habits you need, it becomes easier. It’s also rocket fuel for your later career when you want to move onwards and upwards.
How to Find Unlisted Jobs
If you’re looking for a hidden jobs finder, we’ve got bad news for you. Finding unlisted jobs isn’t something you can do with an app, or as simple as finding regular jobs on online boards. You need complex, long-term strategies to take advantage of these unlisted jobs.
There are various strategies suitable for different kinds of jobs. Finding unlisted entry-level jobs is almost entirely different to finding the next step on the career ladder.
Non-Advertised Entry Level Jobs
It’s tough finding entry-level jobs where you meet the requirements. In reality, employers are asking for more than they should. Whether it’s a college degree for a basic job or three years’ experience in jobs aimed at teenagers, it seems like they aren’t ‘entry level’ anymore.
Fortunately, you can use the hidden job market to get around that fact. All you need is a little know-how, some time and patience.
1) Cold Contact with Employers
Your first method, whatever kind of job you’re looking for, should be cold contact. That’s a term that means you contact an employer, essentially, out of nowhere. The exact method of contact doesn’t exactly matter. The best ways, though, are in person and over the phone. You can also send emails, although there’s always a chance these can get caught in a spam filter.
This is how it works: let’s say you’re looking at basic jobs in restaurants. Make a list of your preferred employers, whoever they might be. Then, one by one, get in touch with managers or whoever’s in charge of hiring. Preferably, visit in person. Dress in smart and appropriate clothing, bring along a resume and ask to chat with somebody about any openings that a restaurant might have.
Of course, you won’t get a job right away. That’s the trick to cold contact: you have to keep at it, over and over again. You can make it a little easier on yourself by calling businesses over the phone to scout for work. This is quicker and simpler, but you may not get results that are quite as good.
2) How to Use Google to Find a Job
Of course, you can always search online, too. But if you search the online job boards, all you’ll find are the positions that everyone else applies for too. However, there are tricks you can use to search for jobs that you won’t find on your typical boards.
- You can use Google operator commands to search for jobs tracked by an ATS (applicant tracking system). Don’t worry as it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Search on Google for the following, and see what comes up: site:aplitrak.com intitle:”manager.” This says to Google that you want to find jobs that are tracked by an ATS called Aplitrak, for any “manager” positions. You can do the same with site:bullhornreach.com and site:smartrecruiters.com. This can help you find jobs advertised directly by employers.
- Regarding searching for work through search engines, Google is trying to change the game. They’ve introduced Google for Jobs, a brand new service that collates the very best jobs that Google can find. There is no Google for jobs URL: all you have to do is search for ‘pizza chef’ or ‘bank manager’ no Google and it’ll show you the jobs available online.
Together, these two tips will help you find the best advertised and non-advertised jobs.
3) How to Ask Around for Jobs
One of the most effective ways of finding a job is through ‘word of mouth.’ It’s simple: ask around among your friends, family or former colleagues to see if they know about any openings.
This is especially effective if:
- Your friend works somewhere that you’d also like to work
- Your friend lives somewhere that you don’t normally search for jobs
- You’re willing to return the favor every once in a while, by telling your friend about jobs near you
In particular, ask them if there were any positions that they applied for but didn’t get. These are going to be decent jobs since your friend thought highly enough of them to apply. Not only that, but you’ve got a little research to go on, too. You already know that, for whatever reason, your friend wasn’t hired. Ask them if they got feedback—like if they didn’t have enough experience, or they emphasized that they needed team players—and see what you can do to work that into your resume.
4) How to Find Freelance Jobs
Freelance work has become more and more common in the last decade. This is driven by the number of people wanting to work from home, and the cheap availability of PCs, laptops, and software like Microsoft Word. Freelancers mop up much of the spare, unadvertised work that companies have to offer.
Through online freelancing sites, you can find work doing:
- Data entry
- Writing content for websites and blogs
- Web development
- Teaching and tutoring
- Graphic design, drawing, and art
- Creative writing
You can find freelance work on sites like PeoplePerHour, Fiverr, and more. This freelance work can be a small side hustle—but you could eventually make your own business if you work hard enough. Either way, it looks great on a resume, it can tide you over before you find a career job, or it could be a useful side income while you work a regular entry-level job.
5) Find an Apprenticeship
Historically speaking, apprenticeships were how everybody got a job. Today, with high school and college, there’s far more emphasis on developing soft skills than learning on the job. But if you know where to look, there are still apprenticeships out there for all sorts of jobs. Check out the NY State Department of Labor’s list of apprenticeship trades, for example. You can find apprenticeships in everything from baking and bricklaying to policing and stonemasonry.
If you’re not aware, apprenticeships are where you trail an expert and see how they work. You’ll do small, simple tasks at first. Let’s say you’re an apprentice baker: you’ll start by watching a master at work. They’ll explain how they do what they do and gradually encourage you to learn too. Over time, you’ll be good enough to work on your own.
This is still the best way to get into many industries like construction or carpentry. That’s because these trades place a high emphasis on learned tactile skills rather than what you can learn from a book. Jobs in these industries aren’t always advertised, because they’re typically filled by apprentices.
6) Identify Companies Looking to Hire
Something else you can do to search for non-advertised jobs is to identify which businesses will need to make hires, based on industry news and local reports. Let’s say you want to get an entry-level job in fast food. You can give yourself an advantage by identifying which chain is opening the newest stores in your area.
Use sources like…
- Social media
- Trade magazines
- Local and national newspapers
…And anything else you can get your hands on, and use them to spot patterns. Is a particular chain planning to expand their operations in your state? Is a big multi-national corporation creating a new department? Is a small business growing faster than anyone expected? If you keep your ear to the ground and find out before normal job-hunters, you can put your resume in long before them—before the jobs are even advertised.
7) Always Follow Up
Our last tip for finding unadvertised entry-level jobs is to always, always follow up on an application. First of all, this gives you insight into why you weren’t hired. This insight can strengthen your resume and cover letter if you use it. Not only that, though, but it gives you a unique opportunity to put yourself forward for any more available jobs.
Let’s say that you got an email or voicemail to let you know you didn’t land a particular job. Or, better yet, that you didn’t hear back from them at all. Time to give up? No. Get back in touch with them and say:
“It’s a real shame I didn’t get this position: I was looking forward to working at ABC Corp. Do you happen to know if there are any more positions available at the moment? If so, I’d love to put myself forward!”
You’ll hear about a mix of advertised jobs, but if you’re lucky, the recruiter might know about an opening that hasn’t been advertised yet. The other plus side of using this method is that you can ask for them to keep your resume on file: if there’s another position that you’d be a better fit for, they might offer it to you instead of advertising it at all.
Non-Advertised Career Jobs
Moving up the career ladder is tough. If you’re consistently passed over for promotion, it gets more and more tempting to leave. But when you set your sights higher—at other businesses—it’s viewed as disloyalty. Fortunately, the hidden job market makes it easier to find a new job quickly and easily.
The two best avenues for finding a new position are networking and unadvertised internal promotions. Both online and offline networking are useful tools for escaping a workplace you don’t like. But if you’re intent on staying, then you should know that there are more promotions available than management tell you about. First, though, we’ll look at how to make connections.
Using Networking to Find Jobs
Networking is key in the hidden job market. It’s what makes all the cogs turn. There are two kinds of networking you have to be aware of: online and offline. Networking offline is all about being in the right place, at the right time, and being prepared for it.
Next, you have to consider networking online. This is where you find connections at different organizations you’d love to work for. By finding these connections, you increase your chance of a referral—it’s essentially putting a foot in the door. The next few sections are all about networking, both online and offline. First, let’s take a look at how you meet ‘the right people’ in the real world.
1) How to Network Offline
So, as we said, networking is all about being in the right place and being prepared to make some connections.
That means what you have to do is:
- Figure out where you have to go to meet people at the company you want to work for, or in the industry you want to work in
- Prepare yourself to meet them and make a good impression
Step one is easy. Let’s say you’re trying to move up the ladder, and you work in financial management. It’s simple: do a little research on when and where the big-wigs in financial management meet. No doubt there are conventions and conferences on particular topics in the financial management world. Make a list of big meet-ups, so that you can put yourself in the right place at the right time.
Next, start preparing for when you meet new contacts. You need many things: tools that you can use to make the best impression.
- Business cards with your name, address and job role on them
- An ‘elevator pitch’: a 30-second teaser trailer speech that tells a prospective employer everything they need to know about you, and why they should hire you
- The smartest clothes you can afford on your budget
When you get to the event, don’t jump straight into pitching people about yourself. You’ll come across badly. Try and strike up conversations with people—about anything and everything. If you are serious about your field, you’ll be able to chat about it all day long anyway. When the time comes, you’ll know.
At a natural point in the conversation, talk about yourself and how you think you’d be a good fit for something. It might be awkward at first but remember: you’re not the only person there pitching yourself, and trying to find a new job. Employers expect, and almost encourage people like you to network at events like these. So it might be difficult at first, but give it a go, and soon you’ll be a natural.
2) How to Network Online: LinkedIn
Yes, you can use LinkedIn to access the hidden jobs market too. Fortunately, the same rules apply to online networking. You have to be confident, and capable of cold contact. It’s a case of pushing past the awkwardness you feel.
Here are a few tips when it comes to networking on LinkedIn:
- Don’t just spam messages here, there and everywhere. Select a few target connections, and tailor your message to each of them. Spamming copy and pasted messages is poor form and can alienate people who might be useful connections in the future.
- When you’re reaching out to people, there are two approaches to take. The first is to ask kindly and explain why you want to connect with them. This is the best approach if you’re trying to break into an industry. But if you’re already reasonably well-established, explain what’s in it for them. Why should they connect with you? This will increase your chances dramatically.
Aside from that, you have to make your profile as employer-friendly as possible. Make sure that your headline is strong: something like Anne Smith: an experienced Chartered Accountant is brief but effective. Make your page keyword-rich, too, so that you make yourself as easy to find as possible.
3) Networking Using Twitter
It’s also possible to network on Twitter, even though it wasn’t specifically designed to be used that way. The best thing about Twitter is that you can message anyone, at any time. You don’t need a premium account or to pay a subscription fee. Start off by following your potential employers, and see what they Tweet and when. Sometimes they might unintentionally show that they’re in need of new hires.
With a little bit of research, you can also find and follow important people in the hiring process. These are the managing directors and recruitment managers who make big hiring decisions. You can Tweet them directly, and even include a link to your LinkedIn profile when you do. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work at first: you’ve got nothing to lose, after all.
How to Find Internal Promotions
Let’s say you work in HR at a medium-sized firm. You’ve worked there for three or four years now, and you’ve never even been in the running for a promotion. It might be because your boss doesn’t like you; it might be because you’re not ‘selling yourself’ well enough. Whatever the case, though, there’s not just one route up. You can increase your chances of getting promoted by actively searching for openings, not just in your department, but across the business.
1) Search Internal Job Boards
In most big businesses, there is an internal job board that every employee has access to. This is where open positions across the company are advertised. You may also receive email updates that tell you about any positions that might be open. Or you might hear about a vacancy when you’re stood chatting at the water cooler. These jobs are an excellent first port of call because businesses love it when employees show initiative and do their best to move up the ladder.
2) Make Internal Connections
If you’re only networking at corporate events, you’re doing it wrong. You never know what opportunities might arise when you make a connection; that’s why it makes sense to connect with people where you already work. It might sound counter-intuitive at first, but if you make friends in other departments, that could be the leg-up you need to find a promotion.
Making internal connections don’t have to be an exercise in formality. Just do your best to make friends across the company, especially in departments that you’d love to work in. Bonus points are available if you manage to make friends in high places. You don’t even need to add them to LinkedIn; ask them occasionally whether there are any openings in their team that you could apply for. If you make enough new friends, something will come up sooner or later.
3) Find a Mentor
This is like finding internal connections but taken up a notch. By finding a mentor, we mean finding somebody higher up in the company who’s willing to take you under their wing—for a while, at least. By building a friendship with somebody at the top, you’re doing three things:
- First, you’re benefitting from their experience and knowledge. You can learn about how they got to where they are today, and what they believe it takes to get to the top.
- You’re giving yourself a direct line to the very top. Your mentor will know about any openings before they’re available and will be able to tell you more about them.
- You’re also giving yourself a powerful advocate when it comes to getting promoted. Your mentor will be able to put your name forward or pick you out of a shortlist.
That being said, don’t be cynical. Don’t just try to find a mentor for the sake of it. Try and genuinely connect with somebody over common interests, and become their actual friend. If that’s not possible, there’s no point—they would easily be able to spot that you don’t want to be their friend, you’re just using them.
If you’re searching for a job in a different sector, volunteering is an option. This is especially the case in creative and not-for-profit industries, which are notoriously tricky to break into. That’s because they tend to get enough volunteers that they can always promote from within. These jobs aren’t advertised, because they’d rather have somebody with a little experience under their belt. It’s understandable if you look at it from an employer’s point of view.
If you’re already employed, volunteering on the side is an option whereas it wouldn’t be if you didn’t have a job—because you need food on the table. The great thing is that you can volunteer for just a couple of hours a week, and you’ll still be getting your foot in the door. You could work on a Monday evening, or on a Sunday morning. You can even ‘microvolunteer’ through your phone or laptop for a few minutes at a time.
While you’re there, do your best to use your networking skills, and see if you can scout out any openings. It’s just a matter of time, especially if you’re doing something you’re passionate about or skilled at.
5) Create Your Own Job
This is a risky approach, but it’s one of the quickest ways you can land your dream job. Let’s say you’re currently working in an entry-level office position, but you’d love to become head of a department one day. That’s a long and slippery ladder that you’ve got to climb. It’s something that most people would try and fail to achieve.
But instead of waiting for positions to open up one by one as you move upwards, you could try and create your very own specialization, and your very own role. As the economy changes, there are always ways that businesses need to change. Think of the last twenty years: the internet has completely changed how many businesses operate, and companies from the biggest conglomerates need an online presence. That’s necessitated the creation of departments dedicated to social media, online content and IT that weren’t there before.
If your business hasn’t caught up with the trend, you could spearhead the movement. Have a chat with your managers about taking on extra responsibilities, for instance managing the business’ social media accounts. This extra responsibility might take up a lot of your time. But if you prove competent, and it has a real and profitable outcome, then you’ll be on the up.
And there you have it: every single way you can think of to find an unadvertised job. If these ideas don’t work for you, we don’t know what will.
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