Hidden in Plain Sight

person behind a mask for the hidden job marketThere is no such thing as a hidden job market. There, I said it.

I’m subscribed to an email newsletter, and the last one I got had two articles that caught my eye. One promised to ‘dispel modern job search myths’. Another offered the chance to learn how to ‘hack the hidden job market’.

Oh … the irony. The hidden job market is a myth.

What is the hidden job market?

I get where the term is coming from. Jobs that are posted publicly aren’t hidden. They’re out there, for all to see.

Jobs that aren’t advertised, where hires are made through connections and networks, are ‘hidden’.

But they’re really not. They’re just as available as any other job, and just as visible.

Think of it this way. If you usually put your keys in one place on the kitchen counter, and today you put them in a different place on the counter, are they hidden? Of course not. You just need to turn your head and look at that different place. The job market is the same. Knowing where to look, and how.

Definitions aside, what’s my point? Why does the term ‘hidden job market’ get me fired up? Because I think it hurts job seekers.

Why we need to leave the term behind

If you’re on the market for a job, the term ‘hidden job market’ is demotivating. It leaves you feeling like there’s a bunch of jobs out there that you’ll never be able to get. That other people have a leg up on you, because they have access – like a secret handshake or something – that you don’t have.

None of that is true.

The other reason I don’t like it is because it can prevent job seekers from doing the things they need to do to find and compete for these jobs. In other words, if a job market is truly ‘hidden’, there’s no point in even trying to find it. So you don’t take action.

And that’s a shame, because the actions aren’t really all that difficult.

How do you tap into the (NOT hidden) job market?

It’s not rocket science. It just means going beyond the postings on various job boards. Possibly stepping out of your comfort zone a bit. Here are just a few of the things that just might be the ‘secret handshake’ you’ve been looking for.

  • Find a few recruiters that work in your field. Call and introduce yourself. Get an interview, if you can.
  • Search LinkedIn for people who work in companies that might hire you. Ideally, people who would be either peers or supervisors to you. Connect with them. Ask if they’re willing to have an informational interview.
  • Email a few former managers or colleagues. Let them know you’re on the lookout for something new. Invite them to a coffee, if there are potential opportunities they know about.
  • Find networking events and attend a few. If your field has an industry association, that’s gold. If not, look up your local Chamber of Commerce. The crowd is more varied, but you never know who you might run into.

Yes, it’s true that some jobs aren’t advertised. But that doesn’t mean that they’re hidden from you. It just means you need to look in a different place than you might be used to, and in a different way.


Photo by Crazy Cake on Unsplash