The Hidden Job Market for Executives: Unveiling Untapped Opportunities

The Hidden Job Market for Executives: Unveiling Untapped Opportunities was originally published on Ivy Exec.

If you’re only applying to online job postings, you’re missing perhaps the most helpful method for job hunting: the hidden job market.

According to Stacey Perkins of recruiting firm Korn Ferry, around 60% of jobs are never posted on public job sites. Instead, they’re filled by internal hires or referrals. 

It may seem strange that hiring managers don’t open job postings to everyone who might be interested. The reality, though, is that it costs money to advertise jobs on public sites. Sifting through resumes is also time-consuming. When jobs are posted, many candidates without the required skills nevertheless apply. 

Smaller companies may be particularly likely to participate in the “hidden job market.” This is because they don’t have the funds for screening tools, like applicant tracking systems (ATS), that weed out unqualified candidates. 

“[S]maller organizations often use standard-issue job posting sites that make it easy for anyone to haphazardly apply to a position. As most hiring managers will attest, some of these people are clearly playing a numbers game with their job search,” said Jack Kelly for Forbes.

You might feel discouraged if you don’t feel like you have the connections to access the hidden job market. But you probably have more networking resources than you realize. 

This guide discusses the best ways to tap into the hidden job market.


📈 Keep up with networking even when you’re not looking for work.

Many people neglect networking when they’re satisfied with their current roles.

Then, when they want to switch jobs, they don’t have the necessary contacts to land the positions they want. 

So, keep your LinkedIn profile up to date. If your profile is current, you may even find that recruiters reach out to you. 

“Rather than spending time sifting through hundreds of resumes that don’t hit the mark, many recruiters are searching LinkedIn for candidates who fit their clients’ needs. Make sure your profile accurately showcases your latest professional accomplishments,” said Kate Johanns for The Washington Post.

You’ll also be able to stay connected to your LinkedIn contacts, congratulating them on their successes and even volunteering to help them. You never know when you’ll need to call on someone to pay back a favor.

You should also consider joining a professional association. Even if you’re happy at your job, you may hear about hidden roles that interest you. You’ll also discover the new competencies necessary to keep your skill set up to date.


📈 When you’re ready to find a job, target companies that interest you.

Once you’ve decided to look for a new role, start by being specific about what you’re seeking.

List your ideal job title, industry, and location. For instance, as Laura Labovich of The Career Strategy Group notes, you could say that you want to be “A marketing manager (title) for a consumer products company (industry) in Los Angeles (location).”

She argues that this clarity will help your network understand the types of roles you’re seeking. 

Then, make a list of companies where you’d like to work. Even if you apply to positions these organizations post, you may not get to network with professionals at the organization, hurting your chances.


📈 Reach out to your target organizations – and to people you already know.

Next, start networking at companies before they post intriguing jobs.

You could consider writing someone at your level for an informational interview or a potential supervisor about what they’re seeking in roles similar to the ones you’re seeking. 

When you reach out to organizations that don’t have openings that fit your interest, explain why you’re excited about that role in particular. You also want to talk about what you can offer or solve problems for the organization.

Career coach Emily Liou recommends mentioning three career milestones in your “elevator pitch” introduction:

“While I don’t see an opening for [insert dream job here] right now, I just wanted to introduce myself and what my specialization is in case future opportunities arise. I’m always looking to connect with like-minded professionals in [insert field here]. In case you’re interested in connecting, here’s how you can reach me!”

What’s more, be sure to tell contacts in other contexts that you’re seeking new employment. It may seem taboo to connect with friends, family, or neighbors you know in other contexts about professional opportunities. But if you tell your personal connections that you’re seeking employment, they may be happy to help you.


Tapping into the Hidden Job Market


You can make the hidden job market work for you.

The best way to get started is by identifying the roles that appeal most to you. Then, start making connections with professionals at the companies where you want to work. 

Most important, though, is building your network long before you’re looking for a new job. It takes time to develop connections, and you don’t want to ask for job tips or referrals too early.

Ready to learn more about using the hidden job market? Consider listening to executive career coach Anish Majumdar’s webinar “Secrets of the Hidden Job Market.” 

By Ivy Exec
Ivy Exec is your dedicated career development resource.