It used to be called “pounding the pavement,” the daily drudgery of job-seekers everywhere. Today, serious job-seekers are more likely to be pounding keys—unless they’re tapping into the hidden job market, the much-discussed counterpart to advertised open positions.
While conclusive data on the hidden job market is scarce, the general consensus is that the majority of “hidden” positions are six-figure and highly competitive.
Companies rely on the hidden job market for two reasons: discretion and convenience. A troubled business typically won’t advertise its distress, particularly if doing so puts investor or public confidence at risk. Moreover, the process of advertising and filling a six-figure position is lengthy, expensive, and fraught with uncertainties; there’s no way to predict how long the recruitment process will take, how many qualified candidates will come forth, how much productivity will be lost to interviews and other hiring tasks, how competing businesses will react, and so forth.
Instead, six-figure positions are usually filled by default, by the friend-of-a-friend who plays golf with the CEO, or created anew for top talent. Both are excellent ways for you, the six-figure professional, to land your dream job, as long as you keep in mind that tapping into the hidden job market requires less time banging a keyboard and more time knocking politely on corner-office doors.
The best way to access the hidden job market is to leverage your network. This requires both initiative and patience, but as long as you exercise both in equal measure, you’ll secure your dream job before long. Here’s how to get started.
Establishing an impeccable Linkedin profile is important, but it’s not enough simply to set up your profile and then sit back, waiting for the job offers to roll in. (If everyone who uses social networking relied on other users’ initiative, the networks themselves would collapse!) Begin by conducting independent research into the company that interests you. Identify the manager in charge of your area of expertise, and then locate his or her Linkedin or Facebook profile. Make the connection. Then, repeat the process, broadening your scope as you go, until you have at least five or six solid industry contacts. Don’t hesitate to include companies you’re less than enthusiastic about working for; the more connections you form, the more likely you are to gain access to a company that does interest you.
Now it’s time to warm your contacts up. While researching, you should have unearthed biographical tidbits and basic info about the people you’re targeting, which can give you an “in” when initiating direct contact. Flatter, but do so honestly: no one likes to be buttered up for an obvious purpose. Your research should have also raised genuine questions about industry trends and issues; a well-timed request for advice and guidance never hurts. Whatever you do, don’t posture or behave aggressively. You’ll just repel the very people you’re trying to attract. Be yourself, and let your contacts get to know you as you really are.
Talk, talk, talk.
By now, networking may seem like a purely electronic activity, but the most valuable contacts are often those made in person. Talk to everyone—the man standing in line behind you at the grocery store, the postal clerk whose station you frequent, your hairdresser, your neighbors, your spouse’s office-mates, etc. You never know who could be an important connection. Further, getting in the habit of light conversation will make it easier to ace interviews and walk-in queries when the time comes.
Put yourself out there.
Nothing good comes of approaching challenge meekly; if you want professional recognition, you’ve got to prove your worth. Write letters (yes, real ones) to the companies you want to work for, tailoring each to its unique audience. Address your correspondence to the person in charge of your division. Print your documents on resume paper, along with your resume and any letters of recommendation, and drop them off in person. While you’re there, ask politely to set up a future meeting. If you’re unable to make direct contact with your prospective supervisor at the drop-off, wait a week or two and then call. Be persistent but respectful, and offer genuine thanks at the close of every interaction, regardless of its outcome. No one starts out earning top dollar, and the administrative assistant who brews your coffee might one day be your boss!
Julian is a content specialist for US News University Connection and www.businessadministrationinformation.com. His research and writing focus mainly on business, marketing, and education.
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Category: Job Search