Discovering the Hidden Job Market

Published: March 25, 2014

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Sara Muriello, Cross Cultural and Communication Specialist, University of Rochester, New York

If you’ve said to yourself: “There’s just no more jobs out there!” Then you need to change your focus and discover the Hidden Job Market.

Certain companies post for specific positions, and it may seem that these have all been filled – but if you can network with the right individual, there always seems to be a spot that can open up for you where you might not have been looking.  If you haven’t yet found the right job for you, then start Networking Like A Rockstar!

There are two main strategies here: 

1)      Nurture the contacts you have created in your career search – send a direct message indicating (or reiterating) your enthusiasm for the company and your strong interest in working there.  This usually applies to tech companies and start-ups who usually have recruiting targets that fluctuate.  This does not mean going back to companies you have interviewed with and have not made you an offer and asking again… however you may still want to nurture these relationships in other ways for future benefit. 

2)      Develop new contacts ASAP – if the networking you’ve done so far hasn’t resulted in an offer you want to accept, then you need to get super-focused in your search and reach out to every contact possible at your ideal companies.  I recommend 3 strategies to find these contacts:

  1. Your alumni data base and Career Center – have you really reached out to all the possible contacts available to you?
  2. Finding whitepapers or articles written by individuals in the industry you’re interested in (or at your ideal companies!) and reaching out to the authors – this is a great technique that very few candidates use to build relationships… authors love talking about their work!
  3. Utilizing the advanced search feature in Linked In to find any connections to individuals who work for companies you are interested in (ex: an MBA student at Stern might do a broader search for NYU, or search for their undergraduate institution alumni)… or utilize Linked In to find specific individuals at these companies and join a group they are in so you can have direct access to messaging them – this is another technique that so few candidates utilize to find commonality with folks they want to network with!

So what to say in the emails you send?

A good topic of conversation for these notes is to introduce yourself and ask for 15-20 minutes to:

  • learn more about them and their career path – be complimentary!
  • discuss a current event dealing with the industry you’re both interested in – this one is a bit tougher to get a response for, but can work… especially if its somehow tied to a project you’re working on.
  • discuss a topic s/he is an expert in (especially in the case of 2b above) – this can really open up doors!
  • ask for advice on a certain aspect you know the individual can help you with – something besides “can I get a job?”

At the end of the call, thank them for their time and let them know that you are still seeking a position, and would appreciate any advice they might have on securing employment.

On the call you want to:

1)      Thank them for their time – and stay on time!

2)      Ask smart questions – prepare beforehand!

3)      Listen and ask follow-up questions – engage in authentic dialogue!

4)      Insert aspects of your own professional background into the dialogue – something like “oh that reminds me of when I was leading a project at XYZ company…”

5)      Build trust and get the other individual to like your enthusiasm – show them you know your stuff and are excited to learn and contribute to their team!

I’ve personally seen a few things happen when people network with the right individual that lead to them landing an internship or full-time position!  One candidate networked with an individual who knew a very influential partner at a consulting firm and got invited for a special interview.  Another candidate made the right connection and the company created a role for her (summer internship).

When it looks like there’s no jobs out there, it simply means you gotta go network even harder and unlock the potential of the hidden job market.  You just need to start networking like a rockstar!

Rock on!

Jaymin J. Patel is an author, speaker, and coach who is absolutely amazing at helping individuals build the confidence and communication skills needed to network like a Rockstar.  You can get a free copy of his book “The Rockstar Approach: A Beginner’s Guide” at his website: