The secret to getting your dream job isn’t submitting hundreds of applications to company websites — in fact, many great jobs aren’t posted online at all.
More and more people are finding and landing new opportunities through the “hidden job market”: vacancies that aren’t publicly listed or advertised through recruiters, but instead are filled by “internal candidates or referrals,” says Stacey Perkins, career and leadership coach at recruitment firm Korn Ferry , tells CNBC Make It.
“There are a lot of great positions — at least 60%, I’d say — that never make it to the public job boards, which really surprises a lot of people,” adds Perkins.
Here’s how you can unlock and use the hidden job market to find your next opportunity:
Start with a target list of companies and people
Less is more when it comes to the hidden job market.
Make a short list of companies you want to work for — no more than 10 — and let that list guide your search, recommends career coach Emily Liou.
Then find out who the decision makers in these companies are: the people who work on the teams you are interested in, who your potential boss would be, recruiters and hiring managers. LinkedIn and previous job descriptions on company websites are good places to start.
Focused search can help you form deeper, more personal connections, she adds, and those connections should bring job openings to your attention before they’re posted online.
That’s because companies want to hire people who have a strong, genuine interest in their business, Liou explains — and as a job seeker, it’s a lot easier to build relationships with those decision-makers if you’re thoughtful and deliberate in your search, rather than too copy and paste the same outreach message to 50 people.
“Even if they don’t have a vacancy right away, that doesn’t mean that in a few weeks or months someone will be promoted or fired and suddenly there’s an open position,” says Liou. “If you’re on their radar, you’re at the top of their hiring list.”
Take a personal approach to networking
Networking can be intimidating, but building relationships and connecting with new people is the only way to break into the hidden job market, Perkins explains.
For example: One of Perkins’ customers recently told his neighbor that he was looking for a new job, and that neighbor said he worked for a company in his area and would recommend him for a job. Now he’s applying for a job there.
“We tend to neglect our personal connections, but letting family members, friends, classmates, and neighbors know that we’re looking for new opportunities can open the door to a great position,” she says.
Most of your networking, however, should come from names on your target list of companies you want to work for: the recruiters, hiring managers, prospects, and supervisors you would work with.
Even if there aren’t any current job openings that match your experience and interests, or you don’t have anything in common with this person right off the bat, “it’s important to share why you’re reaching out…what exactly is compelling about their career or their company to you.” ?” says Perkins.
During your first contact, whether it’s via email, LinkedIn, or in person, you’ll also want to explain “what solutions you can bring to the table and how you can troubleshoot for them or strengthen existing processes,” says Liou.
Pick three specific skills, milestones, or experiences you want to highlight in your elevator pitch that would truly add value to the organization, advises Liou, then conclude with the following script:
“Although I don’t see a chance [insert dream job here] now I wanted to introduce myself and my specialization in case future opportunities arise. I’m always looking to connect with like-minded professionals in [insert field here]. If you are interested in connecting, you can reach me as follows!”
“Putting the time and effort to forge deep connections and approaching networking from the perspective of how you can contribute to and strengthen the organization will help you stand out in the search from all other applicants who are really “And if a position opens up in the future, you’ll be the first to know.”
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