Monday, January 10, 2011

The Hidden Job Market: What is it, and how can it help you?

The Hidden Job Market
© 2010 by Robert J.F. Sampron, B.A., B.Sc.

Two questions normally arise when discussing the hidden job market. What is the hidden job market? And how do we uncover it?

Very simply, the hidden job market includes all unadvertised job openings. Employers advertise only about 20% of job openings. We may find these jobs advertised in the usual places: newspapers, company, government, or organization career web sites, and job search web sites, like

So, why don’t employers advertise all of their job openings? It is probably because ads are very costly to place. For example, the Denver Post charges $349 for a 30-day, online ad. That listing goes on the web at both and Yahoo! HotJobs. Yes, that is expensive; however, the cost is small compared to placing a print ad. A two-square-inch “Help Wanted” ad in the Sunday Denver Post costs $1,000. That is for just ONE Sunday. The good news is, for the cost of that print ad, the Post throws in free online listings. That’s expensive!

What does that mean for us? That means 80% of all job openings are out there, hidden from view, ready for the clever job seeker to discover. And, who are those clever job seekers? We are.

So, where do we find the other 80% of job openings? We find them through word-of-mouth and research, through people sharing what they know with other people. Let’s say you saw a good movie last week. You tell your friends about it. Then, they either see it alone or invite others to join them. They, in turn, tell other friends. These days, you may also tell the whole world about your movie experience through social media accounts, like Twitter and Facebook. Positive word-of-mouth for a movie can raise ticket sales; negative word-of mouth-can sink sales. Word-of-mouth is a powerful communication tool.
We can learn about job openings using word-of-mouth through the following resources: friends, family, acquaintances, fraternities and sororities, honors associations, college professors, former business associates and fellow employees, former employers (so, don’t burn bridges when leaving an employer), live and web-based social networks, professional/trade associations, volunteer work, and/or annual conventions and monthly meetings.

We each know many people. Those people know other people. The people they know also know other people, and so on, and so on. With social media, we now know people in the “real” and online worlds. Through word-of-mouth, we can use these real and online networks to learn about job opportunities. It is like a giant game of “telephone,” with one exception: we are transmitting important job information through these social networks. We begin to uncover the hidden job market simply by asking people if they know about openings. It is that simple.

See next Friday's job blog entry for more information by Robert Sampton on how to break into the Hidden Job Market.

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