Hidden, schmidden: Finding your way into a bunch of opportunities.

Some of you may have heard this statistic before:

80% of the available jobs are never published. They're not on Monster. They're not posted on the company's website. They're not in the classified ads (Seriously, does anyone use classifieds anymore?)

They're hidden.

OK, so what does that mean? And why is is so important to find them?

Well, if a pile of people are going after the same 20% of the jobs, wouldn't you be better served by going after the other 80%. Of course you would.

Why are they hidden? Three main reasons: 

  1. Because generally speaking, employers want to find their next hire through a trusted source, an internal referral, or someone who arrives through some other sort of personal connection.
  2. Because hiring managers don't have time for the process of posting jobs, reviewing a bunch of resumes (many of which will be from unqualified candidates who thought, "Ah, what the heck?"), and interviewing people who've come in without any sort of connection. We went through a big economic downturn, and tons of people lost their jobs. How overworked are the people left behind? Plenty. Those needing to hire almost always prefer hiring someone without the hoopla created when they advertise an opening.
  3. Because it costs moolah. Right now, Monster is charging $365 to post one job, in one city, for 30 days. As an employer, if I have five jobs that I want to post... in more than one city...? It becomes a rather significant investment. Likewise, if they hire a recruiting agency to (advertise and) fill the position, they're looking at a five-figure commission in most cases. A lot of companies won't make this investment. Or can't.

So a whole bunch of opportunities go unannounced, unadvertised, unfilled. You shall be best served by figuring out how to mole your way into this hidden job market.

Here are three ideas to get you started:

  1. LinkedIn - I won't shut up about Linkedin. Leverage the heck out of this, and other social networking tools to get "in" with the right contacts. Contacts at the companies you want to work for. Contacts who can get you to right person.
  2. Research - Spend some computer time researching companies at which you want to work. Notice news of a company growing, adding new facilities, taking on a new industry sector? Do you possess skills that could be very valuable to that organization given this news? Find your way in. Send a note to the person quoted in a news article, sharing your thoughts (and, if appropriate, offering congratulations).
  3. Positioning -  Get yourself in the places where hiring managers are likely to be: Join an association that they're active in (and get involved), sign up for conferences at which these people will speak. Then (caution! non-optional tip ahead): take the time to introduce yourself. It, literally, could be a matter of being in the right spot at the right time. Put yourself in those spots.

If you've just read this and are thinking, "Man. That all sounds so tiring." Consider this: How much more tiring will it be for you to spin your wheels for months and months doing passive, conventional job search methods that don't land you the job?

I thought so.