So you decide to look for a new job, but where do you start? The obvious place is on advertised job boards around the internet, but there’s an issue. 70% – 80% of all jobs now go unadvertised. This is what is known as the ‘Hidden Job Market’, and the advertised job market is just the tip of the iceberg. What this means is that if you want to gain access to the majority of all jobs and have a better choice of available jobs you need to take a different approach to your job hunt and look in a few places you might not have considered before. There are a
number of ways in which you can access the hidden job market, however you need to prepare yourself for the process and application of jobs within this market as you cannot afford to make any silly mistakes. This is due to the fact that the majority of jobs will come through your connections or introductions, so your application reflects on those connections too, not just yourself. In this article we will look at ways in which you can kick-start the process in the most effective way possible, starting with your CV and preparation. It’s all about preparation and your CV Despite a different approach, your CV preparation is still key. Preparing your application is simple; first ensure you are right for the job, then target the right person within that company, have your sales pitch ready, customise your CV and cover letter for each application, and follow up in a timely manner. It is best to contact hiring managers and key influencers within the company that you are applying for, and according to Mark Haluska, principal of recruiting firm Real Time Network, it is best to contact someone 2 levels up from the position you’re applying for as they not only have a bigger picture of the role but they might even be looking to replace the person below them (above you). If you were to contact the person above you there’s a chance they might be small minded and be threatened by your credentials, which would of course jeopardise your chances of getting that position. Also, David Perry, author of ‘Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0’ says that if a company has fewer than 250 employees you should contact the President, Vice President or owner. If a company has between 250 – 1,000 employees, then contact the VP of your department and if a company has more than 1,000 employees then you should target the VP or Senior Director of the division you want to work in. Researching a company before you apply for a position is very important. You want to ensure that you have fully understood the company’s ethos and history so that if you get the opportunity to interview for it then you will be able to demonstrate that you’ve done your research, therefore showcasing your real desire for the job in hand. You can do a Google search of a company to find out individual’s names and contact information, and you can also study a business over a period of time to understand exactly who they are – this can be done via a Google alert, allowing you to track updates via keywords straight to your inbox. The faster you can humanise your job hunt and make contact with the right hiring authority the faster you’ll find work. Your CV is an efficient marketing document if it is ‘recruiter friendly’ and it allows them to determine easily how your skills and experience match up to the job they are trying to fill. Recruiters and headhunters are target driven, therefore it is important to give them all relevant information on page one, rather than expect them to read your whole CV to ensure your suitability for a job. Recruiters and headhunters should not be expected to infer your suitability for the positions you are targeting. Candidates need to give them relevant information how their skills and experience match job requirements. In such a saturated market, recruiters do not have to ‘think outside the box’ and make a lot of effort to find a good candidate. Candidates who are most successful are those who can market themselves well. Therefore, candidates have to be prepared to tailor their CV every time they apply for a job. Networking Networking is essential, but you must develop specific skills to enlarge and utilise your network efficiently. One of the best ways to find a new job is to network with your personal contacts. A good way to do this is through LinkedIn. Your personal contact may know of a position currently available or a key influencer within a company of interest to you, so by networking with them you are opening yourself up to more options and increasing your job hunting chances. LinkedIn works well in this example because it allows your connections to introduce and recommend you to their contacts, allowing those individuals to gain a very good insight into who you are before even connecting with you directly. Whilst your own network is much bigger than you probably expect, you will likely need to reach out to individuals with whom you are not connected. However, it is essential to personalise your contact requests through LinkedIn and explain exactly who you are, what you’re looking for and what you can do for that person – remember, it’s a two way street! In your job hunt you must utilise social media effectively, so follow and connect with relevant people within a target company or industry, join industry groups on LinkedIn and interact with them, read blog articles on industry news and discussions, and keep up-to-date with anything that will increase your chances of winning a job interview. Sometimes the best jobs come from the most unexpected people and situations. It might be an old friend or colleague that you re-connect with who puts you in touch with someone, or you might get chatting with an internal recruiter who isn’t currently looking to fill a position, but a few months down the line they will be. It is important to be bold when contacting people. Even if no position is currently available, request to meet for an information interview – this could result in a job later down the line. By highlighting how you could help the company to achieve their goals and make them realise what you could do for them you could even help to craft a new job for yourself. Five skills for tapping into hidden job market
1. Create your 30 second commercial – you are the product so you must communicate quickly to an individual what you have to offer them. Ensure you’re focused, identify key information about your transferable skills, experience, knowledge and personal skills and relate these to the job in hand.
2. Develop your contact network – make a list of people you know that might be helpful to you in your job search. Utilise your network to reach out to others, use referrals and go to industry specific networking meetings. Utilising social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn is also an important step to take.
3. Learn how to approach people in your network – many people are concerned that they will be using people for their own gain through networking, which is a legitimate concern. Those who approach networking thinking only about their own needs do run the risk of alienating their friends and professional colleagues, however, networking can be mutually beneficial, so ensure that you return the favour and help others.
4. Be intentional about developing and / or honing your networking skills – most people do not network effectively as they haven’t forced themselves out of their comfort zone to learn or refine the necessary skills. Job searching is a stressful process and it is easy to revert to old habits. Asking “have you got a job” is a very bad technique, so be sure to stick to your 30 second commercial and be cleaver about your job search and pitches to individuals.
5. Do it! – prepare yourself properly and stick to your plan and sales pitch. Refine it as you go alone and don’t get lazy or complacent. Job hunting is hard work, but if you do it right you’ll speed process up, have a much better success rate and you won’t loose friends or connections over it.
Conclusion There are many opportunities out there for you to find, but the trick is where to look and how to approach it. Be sure not to underestimate the power of your connections. Put a plan together and create your sales pitch before approaching people and you’ll be much more successful in your job hunt. Utilise LinkedIn and Twitter by engaging with people and learning about the company that you’re looking to apply to. Be investing in the preparation stage of your job hunt you’ll be minimising the risk of loosing connections and failing job interviews – that’s if you get any job interviews at all without a well thought out plan.
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