It may come as a surprise to many job seekers to learn that up to 80% of jobs don’t get advertised. These ‘invisible’ vacancies are referred to as the ‘hidden’ job market.
It costs time and money to advertise a vacancy, so employers may choose not to do so, if they know it can be filled otherwise – for example, through word of mouth, internal advertising, head hunting, or by already having potential candidates on file.
Some competitive industries, such as journalism or fashion may have so many potential candidates proactively seeking work that employers may not need to advertise vacancies at all.
Finding jobs which aren’t advertised may sound like hard work. But a bit of effort can reap rewards. Remember, if as little as 20% of jobs get advertised, this means most job seekers are chasing these vacancies, increasing the competition and, therefore, reducing your chances of getting the job.
If you want to enter a popular industry, digging out unadvertised vacancies will improve your chances. It also shows potential employers your commitment and enthusiasm towards a particular job or company.
Some employers might have work available, but haven’t got round to advertising the post. If you happen to contact them at the right time, this may well save them a job.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t bother looking at advertised vacancies. It’s just useful to be aware that what you see advertised is only a fraction of what is out there.
Finding hidden job vacancies is all about being proactive.
Before you begin, think about the type of job you’re interested in, as well as the skills, experience or potential you have to offer. Then, try to match these to realistic career ideas which might appeal to you.
There are various ways of unearthing hidden vacancies:
The wider the network of people who know about your job quest, the more likely it is that somebody will provide you with useful information about a potential job not yet advertised. They might also be able to give you a contact name, help arrange work experience for you, or give you information about what employers are looking for.
Making speculative applications involves contacting an organisation and enquiring about possible vacancies. You might contact an organisation because their area of work interests you, or because you’ve heard about an upcoming vacancy from someone you know.
The important thing is to make sure you do some research beforehand. Find out a bit about the company you’re going to contact. Make sure you also have a relevant contact name.
The usual approach is to send your CV, with a covering letter, stating your reason for enquiring about potential vacancies. You need to highlight the skills you have, how you could be of use to the organisation and what type of job you are looking for. You might also consider making a follow-up call to the company a few days later.
However, don’t assume you’ll get a response. Even if no immediate opportunities arise from this, quite often employers keep CVs on file until something suitable comes up on the future.
It’s worth approaching both small, local companies as well as bigger ones. Small firms don’t always have a big budget for recruitment, so they might be more likely to keep speculative applications on file for future use.
Tapping into the hidden job market isn’t just about finding unadvertised vacancies. It’s about trying to impress potential employers, as well as demonstrating relevant skills you have, and showing your commitment and enthusiasm. If you do this, not only will your CV stand out, but people you know are more likely to help you find work and recommend you to potential employers.
The articles covering networking, recruitment agencies, and careers fairs should give you further pointers towards how to approach the hidden job market.