Don’t confine yourself to looking at job ads. Looking for a hidden job will expand the possibilities.
Perhaps you want to change jobs. Maybe you’ve recently been let go and are looking for a job. Maybe you’ve voluntarily left a job in search of new opportunities but are having difficulty finding suitable positions to apply for.
Whatever your situation, most people aren’t aware that 90% of jobs are hidden, meaning they are not advertised. If you’ve been let go and are working with a firm to help you find your next position, your coach will tell you this.
If you are only applying for jobs being advertised, you are competing for only 10% of the jobs that are out there, alongside everyone else that is job hunting.
In my private practice, I provide counselling to professionals that are looking for work. 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 companies search for new employees by word of mouth.
The following are 8 effective tips I offer in a counselling session about exploring the hidden job market.
Review your current network.
Write down the names of every colleague and work-related contact you can think of that might be able to help you in your search for what to do next. Don’t edit yourself too strongly at this stage. Help can come from surprising places. Emphasize senior people on your list because they will have the most influence, the most experience, and the best contacts to connect you with. The more senior the person, the better.
Make a list of people to contact.
Once you’re listed everyone you can think of that might be helpful, make of list of who to contact. Don’t hold onto your best contact’s name until you feel you have enough experience making cold calls and are ready to contact them because chances are, you’ll never feel ready. Instead, move their name to the head of the list and call them first.
Meet with everyone on your list. Send your contact your resume in advance.
Send your resume to each contact in advance of a scheduled meeting so they’ll have a chance to learn about your background. Don’t worry if your resume isn’t polished. You will want to update it, anyway, based on the feedback you receive during each meeting. Your resume will remain a work-in-progress until you accept a position.
Some people will read your resume before you meet with them and others won’t. Some will want to review your LinkedIn profile as well, so make sure your professional experience is up to date on your profile.
Be authentic and speak frankly when you meet.
Be authentic when you meet with each person. Remind them that you are not asking for a job, but rather that you need help determining what to do next and where to look.
Listen to the suggestions each person has to offer in terms of looking for work. Don’t hold back during the discussion because this is the reason you’ve asked to meet with them. Respond to their suggestions candidly. After all, this isn’t a job interview so there’s nothing to lose.
Ask if they can think of someone you should meet.
Based on the content of the conversation, ask each person if they can recommend someone that you should meet with next. Most people will offer you a name. Have courage and plan to meet this new person. They just may have a hidden job to discuss with you.
Offer to pay.
Thank everyone you meet with by offering to pay for coffee or lunch. It’s a small cost for the favour they have done you. Most people will not take you up on this offer.
Send a thank-you note.
This next step may surprise you but sending a thank you card is a nice touch that won’t go unnoticed. Avoid sending an email if possible because a handwritten note will stand out.
Call the next person and repeat the process.
Phone the new person whose name you received from your contact 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, through this process of expanding your network, that you may get several spontaneous job offers. Don’t jump at the first offer, however. Have the courage to remain unemployed until you discover a hidden job that excites you. You likely want to remain in your next job for five to 10 years, so make sure it’s a job that you want before you jump at it.
I also counsel my clients to read the book, What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles. The 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