Where is the Hidden Job Market?

February 22, 2022

Marni Gordon

Looking for a new job can feel overwhelming and frustrating.  With an abundance of online job boards and websites, you can easily spend your days applying to positions and getting nowhere fast.  While it may feel “easier” to hide behind your keyboard, most opportunities can be found through the hidden job market.

In Robin Ryan’s article How To Tap Into The Hidden Job Market, many unadvertised jobs can be found by reaching hiring managers early in the process before the job is posted or engaging with that employer as soon as the position is online.

The hidden job market is like an iceberg. As Hannah Morgan, Job Search Strategist says in Forbes, “On the surface, you see only the iceberg’s top. Equate that to the job market, and you only see a small portion of the jobs advertised. The massive amount of ice under the water is the entire word of mouth process companies and hiring managers go through to fill an opening.”

Reach the Bottom of the Iceberg Through Networking

Building and nurturing authentic relationships in your network is the way to find those hidden job opportunities.  I enjoy networking and think that it’s fun to connect with people you like and want to get to know better.  

Here are four ways to reach the bottom of the iceberg of hidden job opportunities through networking:

  • Create a list of 20-25 targeted companies.  As mentioned in Ryan’s article, put together a list of at least 20-25 companies that you want to work at.  Then search your connections on LinkedIn and Facebook to find people at those organizations to reach out to schedule informational interviews with.  Sending cold messages to people you’re not connected with also works.  When I researched coaching training programs, I sent direct messages to a few people I didn’t know on LinkedIn and was surprised how many of those people were willing to spend a half hour to talk to me.
  • Tap into your college alumni directory and alumni affinity groups. People are almost always willing to help someone they do not know if they attended the same university. I went to Binghamton University and highly recommend joining The Binghamton Marketing Collective (TBMC) if you are also a Binghamton University alumni in marketing.
  • Join trade associations and online networking groups.  This is another great way to meet people with something in common.  Join and take advantage of the benefits of your trade association or online networking groups by attending meetings and events, becoming involved in committees and forums and staying active in online discussions.  One group I recommend for marketers who want to network is Serial Marketers led by David Berkowitz.
  • Partner with a career coach. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.  Working with a career coach will guide you to uncover your own insights, action plan and accountability around finding those hidden job opportunities that lead to a career you love.   I’m launching a pilot group coaching program this spring for marketers over 40+ who want to navigate the next step in their career journey. The group will be small and there are limited spots available. If you'd like to find out more information, please reply to this e-mail (marni@careerchatwithmarni.com).

Leveraging some of these strategies is a great way to build and nurture your network to find hidden job opportunities.

Networking is Not Dirty, Salesy or Icky 

Many of my clients feel uncomfortable and awkward about networking for their own professional gain.  However, networking can be fun if you focus on getting to know the other person and building a relationship rather than putting your own needs first.  Whenever I schedule informational interviews, I find that the person I’m meeting with really enjoys taking the time to share more about their career journey and is interested in forming a new connection.

How to Feel Less Icky About Networking (Fast Company)

Ask Permission

When connecting others, make sure you apply the “double opt-in” rule and get permission on both sides.  If both people don’t agree to connect in advance, you might be putting one of them in an awkward position.  They might feel like they are caught off guard and now feel obligated to schedule a call.  Your connection also might be annoyed with you as you put them in this uncomfortable position.  I feel that it’s always important to take the extra step and ask permission from everyone before making a connection.

If Networking Makes You Feel Dirty, You’re Doing It Wrong (The Wall Street Journal)

Leveraging LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the top professional social network and it’s important to have a strong presence here.  I enjoy resharing job opportunities originally shared in my feed to try to help other marketers find careers they love.  As a result, I have been able to add more people to my network through second or third connections and some of them have become coaching clients.

How to Network Effectively (Inc. Magazine)

Career Chat with ..... Meital Salerno

Each week, I’m going to chat with someone in our marketing community to learn from their career journey.  This week I spoke with Meital Salerno, Member Development Executive from The Conference Board to learn more about her perspective on the importance of networking.

Q:  How did you start your career in marketing?

A:  I began my career working for a marketing trade association, so while I wasn't exactly doing marketing, I learned a ton by working with many different marketers from all industries. 

Q:  Why is networking important?

A:  Networking is everything as it allows you to access opportunities you may not have been able to find on your own. The right relationships can have a huge positive impact on your career. It can help your resume stand out from the countless resumes submitted through an online portal, it could help you learn from your peers to find shortcuts to challenges you're facing, it could help introduce you to potential buyers of your product/service, I could go on and on.. 

Q:  Please share any tips on how to build and maintain your network.

A:  Connect with everyone you have some sort of business relationship with on LinkedIn. Engage with these connections in meaningful ways whenever possible. Offer help to your connections when the opportunity arises, either by posting helpful content or by connecting with them one-on-one to learn how you could provide value to them. People are much more likely to help you when you've already helped them. You need to invest in your relationships before asking for any favors - you can't withdraw money from an account that you've never made deposits into.   

Q:  What are the top lessons learned that other marketers can take away from your career journey?

A:  The value and importance of LinkedIn for networking and building relationships should never be understated. Maintain a connection with anyone you've had a meaningful relationship with along your career journey. View every role you've held in your career, whether the experience was positive or negative, as an opportunity to build your network. 

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About Marni

Marni is an NYU certified executive coach and ICF member with over 25 years of leadership in the marketing, advertising, media, and events industries.

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