It's a numbers game. You need to be vigilant about tapping into every job resource you can to put the odds in your favor.
Sure, many jobs are posted online — but not all of them. There is also a large invisible market that you need to understand and tap into to significantly increase your chances of landing the job you want.
That invisible job market is that collection of openings that have not been promoted to the general public yet. You might learn about them through Facebook, an email, casual conversation, professional connections, or by doing a little local industry research.
There is no step-by-step "how-to" for entry into this invisible world, but just knowing that it's there gives you some options. The steps below are things you should be doing throughout your career to stay one step ahead and be ready for anything. When done correctly, they can pave the way to more opportunities that others aren't privy to. Be professional, be proactive, and do all you can manage to do in order to build up a positive personal brand that can help propel you into your next job without having to go through the proverbial front door: the HR department.
1. Be a Friend of a Friend. These are the jobs that happen by virtue of someone knowing you and making a recommendation on your behalf. They aren’t necessarily advertised to the world at large, but happen at a smaller level, on a personal basis. Example: “Hey, Susie — I was just talking to my friend who is in need of a graphic designer, and I thought of you. I mentioned your name…why don’t you give him a call?”
2. Inner Circles. Being a member is an investment. It buys you access to your peers. At these meetings with fellow industry members, you will hear things like: “Did you hear that Fred left his position and is now the Design Director at ABC Company?” BAM. That’s a hidden job opening. Fred left the job and chances are his former employer hasn’t even posted anything yet.
3. Ask Questions. Do them right and treat anyone who takes the time to talk with you well, and these can open doors. Being “top of mind” can have tremendous payoffs. “It was great talking to you last month, and we are thinking of adding a new position within our company that would be a great fit for you.”
4. Network. Always. Networking should NEVER take place only when you need it. Smart people are always keeping their networking efforts going, even if they are securely ensconced in a job that they love. You never know. “Alan, I wanted to give you a call because we are about to build out our design department and you’ve been doing such a great job with ABC Company. We think you’d be just the person to lead our team.”
5. Industry Journals. Want to know who is hiring before they actually act on it? Subscribe to journals specific to your area and industry. You can read about people taking new jobs (ding ding ding: opening at previous employer), companies that are entering the marketplace (ABC Company has just leased 50,000 sq. feet of space at XYZ Tower), or announcements that EFG Company is expanding their design studio. Learn to read between the lines, figuratively and literally!
6. Pitch Yourself for Job Creation. Recently, I advised a client who was doing contract work to leverage their knowledge and understanding of the employer’s needs and propose an FTE job. It worked. The employee helped “connect the dots” between what the employer needed and what they could help the company achieve and made a compelling argument for creating a job that never was advertised.
Be proactive. Everything you do every single day adds up to your career brand and image, and this will help you gain access to the hidden job market.
If you have your own secret methods for tapping into the invisible job market, share with everyone below!
Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, is the president of Portland, Ore.-based Pathfinder Writing and Careers, which specializes in mid- to upper-management résumés. She is an active volunteer in her community and donates her time teaching a résumé writing class at the Oregon Employment Department every week to help empower unemployed professionals and workers.