As the majority of jobs aren’t publicly advertised, job seekers should make sure they know where to look for them, says Barry O’Brien.
Contributor Barry O’Brien
Depending on which article you read, you will see stats that say that anywhere from 70 to 85% of job vacancies are never actually advertised. How these stats are ever calculated, no one knows. What is important is that any job seeker should ensure that their job search strategy involves spending time trying to unearth good roles, whether temporary or permanent, beyond job boards and LinkedIn ads.
One of the most soul destroying things any job seeker can do is spend eight hours a day firing off CVs in reply to job adverts that, often, are clearly not a good match to their skill set. It is essential that you make an effort to discover the unadvertised vacancies out there.
Why aren’t jobs always publicly advertised?
There are several reasons why the hidden job market exists, but the high price of recruiting is one of the main ones. The average cost of hiring someone through a recruitment company is over 4000 GBP, but the larger costs due to lost productivity whilst the position is vacant, can be much higher.
Another reason is that small to medium size businesses (that means 90%+ of all businesses in operation, with less than 250 staff) don’t have the finance or resources to set up and manage a complex vacancy application process, so they rely on referrals from current employees or from their network. These can save time and money for a company but also come with a higher degree of credibility, reinforcing the fact that people hire people that they know, like and trust.
Which rock do I look under for these hidden jobs?
The classic way to find a ‘hidden job’ is through networking, both on and offline. If you are building your network up from a near zero point, it can take a very long time to get yourself in a position where you are hearing about suitable roles.
Social media tools can save you a lot of time and one of the things I’ve noticed with many of my academic clients is that they don’t think to use Facebook as a way of informing their network of their situation, even though Facebook probably contains their largest number of contacts, many of whom are often emotionally closer and more interested in helping them than, say, their LinkedIn network.
If you’re interested in working at a certain company, do your research and look to see what kind of positions they may need filling. Start by asking the questions: Do they have a new project lined up? Are they about to launch a new product? Are they getting funding to research something? Before approaching them, you should also prepare your case – why should they be interested in meeting you?
The next step is to contact a decision maker at that company or institution.The fact is that a hidden job is no longer hidden once the decision maker tells somebody else that they plan to recruit someone. With tools like Twitter, a hidden job can become very public, very quickly, so there is an element of luck or ‘perfect timing’ involved, when your email, letter or call reaches the eyes, or ears, of someone who is hiring.
I feel the best strategy, in the first contact, is to call with some pre-prepared questions about the company and department, or team. This is a fact finding mission to begin with, and in my experience it is proven that calls get the best response as they are a lot harder to hide away from, as a responder, than emails.
Where else might I find a hidden job?
Your University Alumni can be a great source of hidden positions. They may be in companies already or the founders of start-ups that need high quality people.
Ultimately, hidden jobs can, and in my experience have, turned up anywhere. The strategy is to ensure that as many people as possible know that you are looking for a position, and ensure that you are credible and trustworthy enough, to be referred to a decision maker, once that opportunity arises.