Accessing the Hidden Job Market

Your job search success will be greatly enhanced if you learn how to tap into the Hidden Job Market. The hidden job market refers to the 80-90% of jobs that are available on any given day but are not advertised. Clearly, you will be at an advantage if you are able to uncover job opportunities before they become public knowledge! The following steps, adapted from Tom Jackson's Guerrilla Tactics in the New Job Market, will help you to tap into and utilize the Hidden Job Market.

1. Identify Job Targets
2. Identify Employer Prospects
3. Contact prospects

Identify Job Targets
Job targeting is a process that involves identifying your personal work values, skills and goals and then choosing specific work areas that will satisfy them. By clearly identifying job targets, you will expand your ability to locate prospective employers make necessary contacts. In addition, job targets will give your job search the focus and sense of purpose necessary for sustained energy.

A thorough self-assessment is a crucial component of job targeting. Talk to a counselor to learn about self-assessment tools such as Strong Interest Inventory, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Additional resources include books in the CES Career Resources Library and Web sites such as Career Cruising.

Identify Employer Prospects
You can create a great advantage for yourself in your job target fields if you identify prospective employers not on the basis of employment ads, but by contacting enough of the right people in the right firms and uncovering opportunities.

An employer prospect is a person within an organization who, you suspect, normally has someone on staff doing the kind of work you are looking for as a job target.

This is where your research skills come in. You will find employers by identifying specific sources of information that are applicable to your job targets and pulling out names of potential employers. Below are some sources to use to locate employer prospects.

Research Sources

General Reading
Newspapers and magazines frequently publish articles related to a particular growing industry or business or an area of technological change. From these stories, make a list of names of people to contact in the future. The Puget Sound Business Journal is a local, weekly publication that highlights local business trends. The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are national in scope and particularly strong in career-related topics.

Trade Publications
Just about every profession, skill area, or occupation has a magazine or newsletter. These trade publications are a valuable source for finding out what's going on in a career field. From trade journals and other related publications, you will glean the names of more personal contacts in addition to learning about key organizations in the field, new products. Trade journals frequently also contain classified employment ads. The Chronicle of Higher Education and Washington CEO, are two examples of trade publications.

Membership Associations
As with trade publications, there are professional associations related to just about every interest area or career field. Those associations related to your job targets can be a major source of information and personal contacts. Associations usually publish membership directories, which contain names of people who may be helpful to you with your job search. In addition, attending an association meeting is a great opportunity to meet people in your field. (Collect phone numbers and ask people if could call them to schedule a 30 minute appointment.) Most associations offer discounted membership rates for students. Check the Encyclopedia of Associations for associations related to your job targets.

Directories are another good source for identifying potential employers. They usually contain the name and address of the business, a brief description of the business and the name of a contact person. Some helpful directories include Standard & Poor's Register of Corporations, Dun & Bradstreet Million Dollar Directory (available on-line in Collins reference library), Media Inc., and Puget Sound Business Journal Book of Lists.

When searching for employer prospects, don't forget about one very important source: your personal network. Your network includes all the people you know who might be able to help you to find out and locate job targets and make personal contacts with prospective employers. One excellent source for networking is the Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Network. ASK features Puget Sound alumni who have volunteered to serve as contacts for students and other alumni. For a more detailed discussion of this strategy, see Contacts and Networking.

Contact Employer Prospects
From all the research sources described above, you have gathered names of prospective employers in your job target fields. You are now ready to contact these prospects for an informational interview. You will want to set up your informational interviews with a person who has influence in hiring decisions. Often this is the manager or supervisor in charge of the function you wish to perform.

Your purpose in conducting the interviews is to gather information, make contacts and position yourself for future opportunities. You will also want to ask for the names of additional people who may be able to help you in your job search. For information on how to conduct informational interviews, see Contacts and Networking. However, please note that at this stage in your job search, you will want to ask more targeted and informed questions than the samples in that handout.

By following the steps above, you are on your way to uncovering hidden job opportunities. As your job search progresses and you identify job openings, you will want to prepare for the job interview.