Startup Institute Chicago Director Jenn Yee is a career coach to MBA students, entrepreneurs and other professionals looking to navigate the modern job market. She is passionate about helping career transitioners find jobs they love, and ensuring they’re equipped with the clear goals and action plans for success. On the surface, the job search and hiring process haven’t changed in a century: a job is posted, a candidate like you submits their qualifications, an interview occurs. You get the offer, or you don’t. But today, the majority of jobs are actually found through the “hidden job market” – a vexing place where jobs that are never posted online or on company websites are awarded to the most savvy and persistent job seekers.
Why are most jobs unadvertised?
Why does this happen? From the company’s point of view, finding great people to hire is one of the biggest and most time-consuming challenges they face. To start, posting a job publicly inevitably results in a flood of anonymous resumés; it requires time and a skilled eye to spot the right candidates. On top of that, it is virtually impossible to really get to know someone through the traditional interview process. How can you know after spending one or two hours with someone that they’d make a great teammate?
More often than not, hiring managers, HR and talent managers, and recruiters will rely heavily on their networks and past interactions; preferring to find what they need organically before ever posting the job.
How to find unadvertised jobs
Here are some important things to remember when you are trying to access the so-called “hidden job market” to get a job that isn’t listed:
- Refine your pitch. Refine your 30-second pitch about what you’re looking for, what you can bring to bear at a new job, and how someone can easily help you (e.g. by making an intro, or suggesting a company they have heard is hiring). If you can be clear and concise about what you’re looking for, people can mentally map how your search might overlap with opportunities they’ve heard about.
- Talk to everyone about your job search. Get on people’s radar and stay top-of-mind by dropping into conversation that you’re on the lookout for a great new job. The more people who know that you are in an active job search, the better your chances are of increasing the serendipity that your uncle’s chiropractor knows someone who is hiring for the exact thing you’re looking to do.
- Read the signals. Companies are often in the news because they are growing, adding jobs, and in particular, fundraising. Be sure to check out local business papers, blogs and Twitter accounts for this kind of news. Set up Google alerts for companies in your local geography with the keywords, “million raised,” “startups,” etc. Reach out to those companies directly before they’ve posted a job! You never know what you might unearth.
- Try creating your own job. You may already be aware of companies that are growing and for which you would love to work one day. Why not try and find a warm intro, or even send a cold email to them asking for a coffee chat or a meeting? At the meeting, ask them about challenges and pain points in their jobs, and consider how you can solve these challenges with the skills you already have. Propose a small project or contract work… you never know, this could turn into a real job if you work hard enough at it.
Remember – companies want to hire people who can start making an impact right away. If you can show that you understand their business challenges and that you’re the right candidate to solve them, not only will you find those unadvertised jobs – you’ll convince them you’re the person for it.