How To Access The Hidden Job Market In 2020

What’s a hidden job market, and can it be a successful strategy that you can use in your job search? There is no question that in any economic climate, there are plenty of jobs that are not advertised. But this doesn’t mean that it is not possible for you to find out about them.

Follow our guide below to understand how to access the hidden job market and make it work for you.

What is the hidden job market?

Simply put, the hidden job market refers to jobs that are “hidden.” They are not publicly advertised or posted online. You will not find them through job search engines or on any job boards.

Many employers do not advertise the available roles as a way of saving money, reducing the time it takes to fill in the position or to encourage employee referrals.

Tapping into the hidden job market should be one of the key strategies that every job seeker uses to land the job they want.

Why do some employers use the hidden job market?

There are several factors that can influence prospective employers not to advertise jobs online. Below are some of the most common ones:

  • The online application process can be lengthy and expensive. Once a company posted jobs online, they need to go through a process of sifting through hundreds of job applications. It is not an effective process if they need to fill in the role urgently.
  • Some companies prefer to save costs on advertising, which can quickly add up, especially if they have multiple vacancies.
  • Some prefer to get quality candidates through employee referrals. These companies often provide incentives to their employees to refer people they know. This way, a company saves money on advertising. They also avoid paying fees to recruiters.
  • Existing employees who participate in the employee referrals program typically need to wait until the new hire passes the probation period. This provides an added incentive to employees to refer only the highest quality job candidates who are likely to stay and succeed.
  • Some employers might advertise the role internally to target potential career changers (i.e., people who want to consider different career paths and move within internal departments) or employees looking for career advancement.
  • Finally, some companies might opt to hire a search firm to conduct a confidential search.

What percentage of the job market is hidden?

It is hard to estimate the exact number of roles that are not advertised. In the past, some career experts and career coaches referred to it as a “hidden job market myth,” questioning the percentage of roles that are “hidden.”

However, these days, most experts agree that the available data supports the claim that the hidden job market does indeed exist.

Jobvite’s 2019 Job Seeker Nation Survey investigated this issue further. The survey found that the majority of job seekers look for new opportunities and apply through a job board or a company website. However, they also found that:

  • 35% of survey respondents reported finding out about job openings on social media. Unsurprisingly, 41% of job seekers who were likely to search for jobs on social media were younger workers.
  • Nearly 50% heard about jobs by word of mouth via friends.
  • 37% said they learned about job openings through professional networks

Other sources estimate that as much as 80% of open positions are filled through networking.

Regardless of the exact number, it is clear that your ability to crack the hidden job market can significantly improve your chances of finding a job.

How do I get into the hidden job market?

There are several effective ways job seekers can tap into this hidden job market. Some take effort. Most are surprisingly accessible. One of the most effective strategies is to access your network. Using your network can be a far more effective approach than sifting through countless job postings online where you are competing with hundreds of other job applicants. Besides, a well-developed network is something you can use for the rest of your life.

Below we will break down some of the most effective tactics to leverage your network and how to use it to access the hidden job market.

1. Develop professional networks off-line as well as online

Your first step to access the hidden job market is by proactively building your professional network. Take time to get clear on your networking objectives. To find new contacts look for any relevant professional networking functions in your area. These can include business luncheons, trade shows, career fairs, chamber of commerce events, and professional conferences.

You can also use a similar approach online. Join groups and forums, especially on LinkedIn. Become an active participant, contribute, and build sustainable relationships. Update your LinkedIn profile to show that you are open to new opportunities. This will make it easier for recruiters and hiring managers to know they can contact you regarding new job openings.

2. Leverage your existing network

Reach out to your contacts and try to set up informational interviews. These can be quick coffee catch-ups where you try to collect more information about the industry itself, a specific company, or a job. It’s also an effective way of getting additional job search tips.

Your friends and family can also introduce you to new people in the industry in which you are interested. Some may even know hiring managers or recruiters that could potentially assist you. Ask your acquaintances to tell you about any new job openings.

Don’t be afraid to ask people: “Who else should I be talking to?” This can be one of the quickest ways to get new introductions.

3. Join alumni associations

Your existing network can be one of your most valuable resources. To leverage it effectively, start by joining alumni associations. Some colleges and universities have existing alumni groups and events. Many large companies also run alumni communities. In addition, you can use LinkedIn and social media to find people who might be of value to you.

4. Use other social opportunities

Not all professionals attend formal networking events. Consider attending some of the more traditional networking opportunities. These less formal events will help you broaden your social networks. This could include your friend’s house-warming or a birthday party. The key is to be social and use this opportunity to get to know more people.

5. Nurture your relationship

Proper relationship development takes time. You shouldn’t expect your new contacts to immediately give you career advice or send you a job description for your ideal position. Take time to get to know them. Talk about what you can do for others. Help them and be sincere.

Take the necessary time and care while building your professional network. With time, you will not only see the results, but you will also have a network that can support you for a lifetime. Eventually, networking should become a lifelong habit.

6. Subscribe to news alerts and follow the companies on social media

Subscribing to news alerts allows you to be one of the first to find out about any new changes linked to potential job opportunities. For instance, they can include information on company expansion or a new office. To avoid overwhelm, do this only for the selected few companies you are most interested in.

Some companies use social media for the same purpose, especially Instagram and Twitter. Follow them to get the most up to date information about their activities.

7. Be intentional about your conversations

Once you reach out to your network, be certain that you can articulate what you are looking for. Be clear on what you can offer potential employers in exchange. Start by polishing your elevator pitch.

Keep in mind that your elevator pitch should sound natural and be engaging. You don’t want to sound like you are reciting your cover letter.

8. Define and deliberately build your personal brand

Check that your social networks reflect what you are trying to achieve. For instance, make sure that you optimize your LinkedIn profile and ensure it is up to date.

9. Make sure you are ready when the opportunity arises

It goes without saying that you want to make sure that you have the latest version of your cover letter and a resume that you can quickly update and tailor for the new opportunity.


Relying purely on an online job search is no longer enough. It’s also not the most effective way of finding a new role for many job applicants. A successful job hunt requires applying multiple techniques for the best results. Whether you are changing career or looking for your first role, your ability to access the hidden job market, especially through networking, can greatly improve your results.

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