Most people aren’t aware that 90% of jobs are hidden, meaning they are not advertised. Perhaps you want to change jobs, have recently been let go, or have voluntarily left a job in search of new opportunities, but are having difficulty finding suitable positions to apply for. If you are only applying for the jobs being advertised, you are only competing for 10% of the jobs that are out there – alongside everyone else who is job hunting.
In my Calgary practice, I provide counselling to professionals that are frustrated and feeling hopeless about the job market. I encourage my clients to take a different approach to finding employment. The key to finding work in the hidden job market is to expand your network, knowing that most firms search for new employees through word of mouth.
The following are a few suggestions I would offer in a counselling session about exploring the hidden job market:
- Review your current network of colleagues and work-related contacts.
- Make a list of people in your network to contact.
- For each person on your list, call them and ask whether you can meet them for a coffee or lunch. Explain that you are looking for work, but are not asking them for a job. Rather, you would like to discuss your resume and qualifications with them, and to see whether they have any ideas about what you might want to do and where you should be looking.
- Send your contact a copy of your resume in advance of the scheduled meeting. Remind them that you are not asking for a job, but rather you need help looking for a job.
- Over coffee or lunch, be authentic. Listen to the suggestions your contact has to offer in terms of looking for work. Based on the content of the conversation, ask if there is anyone they would suggest you should meet.
- Offer to pay for the coffee or lunch with your contact.
- Send a written thank-you note — not an email — to your contact.
- Phone the new person whose name you received from your contact, whom you do not know, and repeat the process. This step may take you out of your comfort zone, but it will significantly expand your network, which is critical in the search for hidden jobs.
Congratulations, you have just expanded your network and you are that much closer to finding a job! It is even reasonable to expect that through this process of expanding your network, you may get a spontaneous job offer.
I also counsel my clients to read the book, What Color is Your Parachute?, written by Richard Nelson Bolles. This book recommends the process of networking I just described, and provides useful ideas for people that are considering changing their job or embarking on a new career path.
Dr. Patricia Turner, Registered Psychologist, Calgary, Alberta
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