Hidden Job Market


The term hidden job market is used to describe open positions that do not appear in online databases and are not advertised by the hiring company.  Networking is the primary method of tapping into the hidden job market.


While the number of job postings appearing online may seem staggering, according to documents published by the United States Department of Labor, eighty percent of open positions are filled without employer advertising.  This is referred to as the hidden job market.  These are positions that are filled using referrals, recruiters, and even through direct contact with employers.

An effective job search needs to account for the hidden job market.  Ironically, most job seekers spend the majority of their time pouring over want ads and searching job postings over the internet, while the vast majority of positions are filled through internal networks.

Employers will leverage networks for a number of reasons.  They oftentimes have an immediate need to fill a position, and the cycle time to find a candidate through an online posting is relatively long.  Employee referrals are also a valued source of job candidates.  Job seekers can leverage the power of this hidden market to their advantage through the following tactics:

  • Networking:  stay in touch with former colleagues, and participate in online networks such as LinkedIn.  Networking is often a quid pro quo (this for that) arrangement, the more energy put into this effort, by helping others too, the greater the returns.
  • Trade Organizations:  join a professional network, and attend trade shows and conventions.  A brief conversation with a meeting attendee can often result in a good lead.
  • Follow the News:  when companies create new jobs, they will normally publish a press release. There are a number of effective tools, such as Google News, that a job seeker can use to screen the news for openings.
  • Contact Companies Directly:  finally, the "old school" approach of proactively writing to a company, and sending in a resume, is a surprisingly effective way to find a job.

Related Terms

job interview, networking, retainer search firm, contingency search firmjob hunter, job club, job search agent