Hidden Job Market

How To Tap Into The Hidden Job Market


It is a well known fact that using job boards exclusively in your job search will leave you confounded and frustrated. Sure, you might be qualified for the positions for which you are applying – but posting your resume online is like trying to find a needle in a haystack – a really, really big haystack.

So, what exactly is this thing called ‘the hidden job market’? The hidden job market consists of openings that are not directly advertised. More and more companies are relying on their employees and specialized, niche sites to identify qualified candidates.

What is the reason for this? With the big job boards, there are a lot of unqualified candidates positing resumes and applying for positions for which they are not qualified. In an effort to cut to the chase, as it were, employers are trying to create a system whereby they can identify a pool of qualified and viable candidates more quickly. It’s very time consuming to sort through hundreds of resumes to find one or two candidates who might be suitable for an opening.

How To Tap Into The Hidden Job Market

Here are some tips to help you tap into the hidden job market:


Networking should be an integral part of any job search. Also consider searching smaller job boards, including those that might be specific to a city or region. Look at sites supported by networking groups or associations. As I have mentioned in previous posts, LinkedIn is a great resource that will enable you to identify relevant connections and facilitate your job search.

Writing To The Right Person

I know it can be difficult to obtain the name of a person responsible for hiring. You can begin by calling the company and asking for the name of the head of a particular department or the head of human resources. At least when you send your letter, it won’t be to “To whom it may concern.” Once you send your written correspondence, you can then call and ask for the person by name. You will be more likely to reach someone before 9:00 AM or after 5:00 PM when other staff members who might answer the phone are gone.


Recruiters can be a great source of information – especially now. Do some research regarding recruiters that specialize in your field. Establish and nurture those relationships. Recruiters have their fingers on the pulse of what is going on within the hiring community. Let them help you uncover the right opportunities.

Volunteer Your Time

Volunteering can do a couple of things for you. Aside from making you feel good by giving back to a good cause, volunteering will allow you access to new people. Those people know people, too! You can create an entirely new network for yourself. You never know what you might uncover.

It boils down to your continued diligence; contact people, establish relationships, and knock on as many doors as you can to generate interest in your background. You never know where a conversation (online or otherwise) might lead!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Debra Wheatman

Debra Wheatman, president of Careers Done Write, is globally recognized as an expert in advanced career search techniques. She helps clients obtain highly desired interviews for competitive positions.


  1. I am a consultant currently recruiting for Interim Senior Finance, HR and Procurement roles in the North. If anyone is interested in speaking to me please contact me on 0161 242 1300 for an informal chat.

  2. Networking seems to be the way to go in search for a job. Most people are not comfortable reaching out to others or don’t know how to Newtwork. A relationship must be established to keep someone in your network. As a Mom I barely have enough time for my family. My drive into work and coming home is one hour each way. How do you strike a balance with your family and try and maintain a relationship with people you want to Network with?

  3. I find networking and volunteering are great! However,so much info I get from LINKIN,and Careerealism is business oriented. It does not apply to the Social Work field.
    I did recently have an interview, and they did not look at how long I had been out of work.

  4. I am very pleased this article talks about volunteering. Volunteering during your job search is a great way to network. It will also help you keep your resume current. In today’s market you MUST keep your resume current. The old idea that “looking for a job is your full time job” does not work anymore. Employers are looking at the end date of your last job and wondering what you have been doing since then. You must keep your resume current!

  5. “Networking” is the popular “catch-all” phrase, the only problem is very few experts know how to teach the everyday, infrequent job seeker into a “networking machine”. So people get discouraged because they do it all wrong, I guess. If people were successful doing it the old way, then they would do it. But they are not and therefore networking becomes this vague, ill-defined “cure-all”. Can you share some really practical and effective networking tips that the average person can master?

  6. LD, in that case, I would try to use Linkedin to connect to people or groups in the area that you are moving to and see if anyone knows about any openings.

  7. Debra: What if your job search is long distance? For example, to your former hometown? Of these tactics, which are most effective? Obviously, volunteering is out of the question. Thanks.

    • LD-
      Volunteering long distance is not always out of the question. At my job (Pritzker Military Library), we have long distance volunteers who help us with editing projects. Some organizations use long distance volunteers to help with outreach (cold calls).

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