What Is the Hidden Job Market?

Have you ever heard of someone who found a job without searching the internet? They likely found that job through what is called the hidden job market. This term is used to describe jobs that are not posted on typical channels such as on online platforms, but rather shared through word of mouth.

Why Is the Hidden Job Market Important for Employers?

There are many useful purposes of the hidden job market for employers, including its low cost, the quality of applicants it provides, and the discretion it enables.

  • Costs less. Advertising for a job can be costly, whereas utilizing the hidden job market has little to no cost. Although sometimes the hidden job market involves engaging with pricey career fairs or fees associated with certain networking groups, for the most part it is a low-cost candidate-sourcing option.
  • Higher quality candidates. The hidden job market utilizes referrals and recommendations to get candidates through the doors of companies. This happens in two ways.
    • Many employers offer bonuses for employees who refer people they know to work for their company. Employees are encouraged to be selective because the bonus is only paid if both employees are still employed after six months. This often results in quality candidates that stick around longer.
    • Recruiters and organizational leaders make recommendations for individuals they think will do well in a new role through the hidden job market.
  • Low profile. Employers sometimes desire discretion in their hiring process. They may not want the public to know that they are opening a new branch or looking to move in another direction with leadership, so they look to the hidden job market to source candidates without making a splash either inside or outside their organization.

How Job Seekers Access the Hidden Job Market

It is estimated that over 85% of jobs are found through networking and hidden sources, and 70% are never published publicly. It takes effort and ingenuity to access, but the hidden job market is a worthwhile tool for finding a job. For your own recruiting efforts, it’s helpful to understand how job seekers break into the hidden job market.

Utilize Connections

Networking is the name of the game when it comes to accessing the hidden job market. The most common way job seekers start is by utilizing their own connections. They ask those they know if anyone is hiring, attend social events to spark professional conversations, and extend everyday conversations beyond the typical “How have you been?”

Expand Networks and Get Out There

Networking is not just about utilizing pre-existing connections. When job seekers expand their network, it increases their chances of finding a job through the hidden job market. Here are a few methods for how this is accomplished:

  • Sending out LinkedIn connections to those who one has something in common with.
  • Asking friends and acquaintances for referrals.
  • Scheduling informational interviews with individuals in one’s chosen field.

Utilize Social Media

Social media can be an incredibly useful tool when looking for a job. Before reaching out to people on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or other sources, job seekers should consider taking a look at their profile. What needs to be updated? Having an up-to-date profile helps people stand out from others in the competitive job market.

How Employers Access the Hidden Job Market

Just like for job applicants, it can be challenging for employers to access the hidden job market. It takes effort and creativity to open new doors of opportunity when it comes to sourcing candidates for a job. Here are a few tips for accessing the hidden job market:

Tip 1: Join Networking Groups

Many employers use this method when trying to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion in their workplace. Jobs can be shared with groups that are centered around women, people of color, or networking groups, including professional associations, mentorship groups, and alumni associations.

Tip 2: Trust Your People

Far too often, recruiters struggle to find the right people for the jobs they are hiring for. More often than not, the individuals who know what type of people are best for the job are those who currently do the work. Trusting your employees can help bring in new talent through the hidden job market. Encourage employees to tell their friends and families about job openings, and consider offering a referral bonus.

Tip 3: Offer Volunteer Opportunities

Trial periods are becoming increasingly common for consumers looking to purchase a service or try something new, and you can utilize this approach too. Volunteer opportunities serve as a form of trial period for those who are not sure they are interested in the type of work at an organization or for companies wanting to see if they found the right person for the job. Offering volunteer opportunities can give your organization access to the hidden job market by encouraging potential candidates to come see if your organization is right for them.