Not too long ago, the only way you could get a job was either through a want ad in the newspaper, through a friend or relative or walking right in the front door of a business and asking for an application. Today, there are myriad ways of locating a great opportunity; including online job boards, social networking sites and recruiters. But what about those great career moves that we don’t hear about? With an estimated 50% or more of these being hidden jobs, exactly who is privy to these opportunities?
There is a process. But you need to know how it works. Once a hiring manager determines that there is room to add staff, they typically won’t post the position publicly. Some companies have to internally post a job for x period of time to allow existing employees the first opportunity to be considered. While this is happening, there may be a few phone calls or emails to confidential contacts in putting ‘feelers’ out there to keep an eye open for anyone that might be a fit (in case the internal posting doesn’t work). The job search still is a ‘secret’ but the number of people knowing about the opportunity is increasing. And if you’re not connected with them, you’re not going to find out about it early in the process. The next step will either be a posting on their website or a job board site. The position is now considered ‘blasted’ and the chances of being amongst the first to find out just decreased dramatically.
Over the past few years, it has become more rampant for companies to not post their jobs on Monster, Ladders, etc. Instead, they will only post on their own company websites. Upfront, this saves money on job postings. But what it also does is alienate potential good talent out from ever finding out about the position (or company). This in essence requires a candidate to know exactly who they want to work for. And they need to constantly visit that company’s website for updates. Who has this much free time? The sheer number of potential employers in any industry is staggering and therefore this is an inefficient way of trying to get good people to find them. There aren’t many ‘winners’ with this tact.
For those positions that are ‘sensitive’ (e.g. replacing an existing employee, a confidential ramp-up hiring before the competition finds out, etc.) requires the enlistment of a recruiter. A good headhunter can conduct a search confidentially without bringing unwanted attention to the company or their employees. Many times a new hire will start work without virtually anyone in the organization knowing until after the fact.
The important part is that it comes down to one simple thing: networking. You have to be known in your profession, and that means being connected to key people. The ones that are ‘in the know’ are the ones who actively (and smartly) use sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, attend events (trade shows and industry meetings) and belong to industry organizations (NAED, NECA, NEMRA, etc.). It also doesn’t hurt to be in communication with recruiters specializing in your niche.
Look at the process like a game. Part of the game in identifying these hidden gigs is reaching the decisionmaker before anyone else knows about it. The longer you wait, the more visible it becomes, and the more the competition increases.
If you can come to terms with the fact that nearly half of all jobs will never be advertised, you may change your mind in your strategy for your next job search.
You have a voice and a choice in your career aspirations. Only you can decide if being proactive or being passive are the right paths. Those that are well-connected probably have the best chances of scoring that great gig. Of course, having a great reputation and being good at what you do certainly help! For those that wish to remain in the background, all is not lost. The good ones almost always get found and noticed; it just may take a little time.