The Hidden Job Market [part 1]

You might have heard the phrase “hidden job market” floating around. At a first glance this sounds like some sort of black market for jobs or corporate conspiracy to keep people out of employment. I assure you it is neither of those things. Let’s dive into what exactly the hidden job market is and what specific actions you can take to gain keys to the magical kingdom of Hidden Job Land.

The hidden job market is simply this:

80% of jobs out there are not posted online and you do not see them. Only the remaining 20% are actually visible to the public in the form of job board postings or job pages of companies.

This means you’re only getting the top of the ice cream… and missing out on the rest of the deliciousness, including that little piece of chocolate at the bottom of the cone.

How is this possible? First of all, many of the current jobs posted online are expired or have already been filled. Companies often forget to take them down. Many of the jobs posted online already have finalist candidates interviewing, so the chances of getting in the mix are quite slim.

Secondly, many companies will never put up a job posting when hiring. They have other means of finding people that does require them to publicly disclose their information. This means the position will be filled and you’ll never even know about it.

This may seem discouraging at first…

But there is hope.

Let’s first explore how jobs are created and make our way from there. Then we’re going to approach this like a high-powered sales team to create a kick-ass plan that will work.

How People are Hired

First, a specific need arises in the company. For example, let’s say Amazon is  going to launch a new video service. This means they need an engineer to build the product for them. They need to find a new hire to do this. The hiring manager, Amanda, is responsible for overseeing this division of Amazons new video business, and she is thus responsible for hiring this engineer. The hiring manager is the decision maker, the stake holder, and the person with the biggest need — if the person is not hired then the product does not get built. Amanda gets approval from her boss and has a certain budget to gather the resources to build this new video team…resources including hiring.

Before the Amanda says anything to HR or even considers making the information public externally online (on a job board), she is going to ask her team for referrals.

“Do you guys have any friends that are good engineers?”

The reason she asks her team or people in her company first is because it’s free for her to do so. If she were to immediately post the job online, the job boards would charge money for the posting, and in the case of a recruiter, it would probably cost a lot more money to hire the person (recruiters charge a lot!). Hiring people is already expensive, so the last thing a hiring manager wants to do is spend more money if they don’t have to.

Amanda might even attend some networking events for engineers, trying to recruit them directly. She might reach out to her circle of friends and greater network. She will then get on LinkedIn and search for “engineers” and contact them directly. She might even post a status update on Facebook or Twitter saying, “Looking for great engineers to build a cool new product — drop me a message and let’s talk!”

She will literally do everything in her power to find a candidate for the job, without spending a dime or making it public online. 

If all else fails, then this conversation will happen with Human Resources (HR): “I’ve tried everything from my end, so can you please help create a job description and let’s post this online.”

The HR manager is a facilitator there to help the hiring manager — but it’s the hiring manager who is calling the shots. From this point, the HR manager will post jobs online and wait for the resumes to start flowing in. They’ll probably receive something like 100 applications through their website + other jobs boards combined (yours is probably in the mix somewhere).

From there, the HR manager will probably spend 1 second looking at each resume and pick out the best ones based on their own “personal judgement” and some criteria that the hiring manager specified.

After selecting a shortlist of about 10 people or so, the HR manager will reach out to the applicants for an initial screening call to interview the applicants. Post-screening call, most people will probably be rejected at that stage, and there will be maybe 2 or 3 applicants who actually make it to the second round of interviews to meet with the hiring manager Amanda.

What does this mean?

This means that you can’t even make it into the funnel of potential candidates. Because you don’t even know the funnel exists! We need to figure out a way to get in front of the hiring manager before the jobs go online (if they ever do) — we have to get into the hiring managers mind somehow.

The million dollar question is…how do we do it?

In other words, if you’re not looking at job postings, then how can you tell if a company is hiring? What should I look for?

This may seem mysterious at first but with a little bit of research and monitoring, you can make some very accurate predictions about whether or not a company is hiring someone — before they even put a posting online.

Let’s examine all of the things a company could be going through that would require them to hire someone, and how you can publicly access this information online (and offline). This is the key to accessing the hidden job market.

If you know that a company is building a new product or expanding, for example, then you know they will be hiring. Basically any sort of market movement that indicates that a company is starting something new, expanding to a new country, adding a new feature, adding a new service,  developing a new partnership model all are good indicators that they will need more resources to accomplish that.

How do you gain access to this information?

  • You can look at funding they received recently. If a company received $10 million dollars in corporate or venture capital investment, they will probably be hiring. A great website to track this information is crunchbase.com and CBinsights.com, where they publicly disclose and update funding rounds daily.
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  • Partnership deals. Let’s say Napster partners with Rakuten. They will very likely push out a press release to the public. Whether or not it’s disclosed in the media, a partnership is likely to result in either one or both of the companies hiring somebody to manage the partnership, build something new for the partnership, etc.
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  • Profitability and growth. Look at financial statements and follow news about the company for signs of growth. Companies that are doing well and selling lots of things are growing. Maybe they can hire a marketing person now, or more sales people. For public companies you can view the information publicly http://www.nasdaq.com/quotes/company-financials.aspx and for private companies you’ll have to keep a closer eye on the news.
  • Recent Turnover. If you find out that John recently left company X as a marketing manager, then you can be pretty sure that company X needs to hire another marketing person! You can look for hints of this when you see someone updating their Linkedin Profile.  Or connecting to a lot of people or generally being very active on LinkedIn. You can tell someone is active by their activity feed — check out this article to learn more. 
  • Companies that are struggling. This may seem contradictory to the above statement, but companies who are struggling also need to hire — maybe even more so than the ones who aren’t struggling. For example, if a company is in a controversial legal dispute right now, then they probably need a good lawyer. If you’re a good lawyer, then you could literally save the company from destruction. They would hire you.

Tools that you can use to monitor this information:

Google Alerts is free and you can setup several alerts with specific company names and key words. It will send daily updates to your email alerting you when there is any news online that matches your keywords! For example, you could setup the key words ‘funding’ and ‘investment’ + “company X,” so you would receive updates.

LinkedIn updates — You can follow the companies and groups you are interested in. You can follow the CEO’s and senior stakeholders of the company that you are interested in. They will post updates about their business on Linkedin or even hints into upcoming products they will be releasing.

FB/Twitter/Angel.co. — Use social media to monitor CEOs and employees that are working in the company you are interested in.

….

Take a deep breath.

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In the next section we’ll put the technique to use. Jump to Part 2 here.


If you liked this article, please share it with a friend. You can also get access to my top interview tips and tricks here:

mishainjapan

Japan-based writer, consultant and entrepreneur.

3 Responses to “The Hidden Job Market [part 1]”

  1. <path_to_url> leather

    Hi, after reading this amazing post i am too happy to share
    my experience here with mates.

    Reply

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