More than 75% of jobs aren’t advertised. Yep, over three quarters of all jobs are never released to the public.

In the current economic climate, the hidden job market has become more prominent in matching people to jobs. The hidden job market is not some bric-a-brac stall in the corner of your local farmer’s market, selling second hand jobs to all and sundry. It is a valuable tool in searching for a new role and the best thing is, not everyone knows about it.

Why Does The Hidden Job Market Exist?

The reasons why are manifold.

Recruiters don’t have the time to sift through 100s of resumes from a job board in the hope of finding that ‘one’ person. In the current climate, many smaller organisations don’t have the funds to advertise. In competitive industries, such as journalism and media, there are so many applicants they don’t need to advertise. In addition, lots of hiring managers prefer to recruit people they already know, or those recommended by people they know.

What Does It Mean For Me?

The hidden job market provides an alternative pool of potential jobs. Being proactive in utilising it can lead to your ideal role. It also means that the jobs you apply to will have less competition.

Speculatively approaching an organisation can show enthusiasm and commitment to a particular company and give you a potential head start against more passive candidates.

How Do I Find These Hidden Jobs?

Be proactive. It’s that simple. There are a number of ways to get busy trying when it comes to the hidden job market. All of them require differing levels of effort, but all require you to make the first move.


That old adage, ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know,’ comes into play when looking for roles within the hidden job market. Not only is it who you know, but what they know about you and how your skills can help them or their organisation.

Networking is the easiest way to access those unadvertised jobs. The wider your network, the more likely you are to hear about jobs you didn’t know existed, so make it a habit and not a one off occasion. People in your network could also be useful in providing information about upcoming roles, arranging work experience or can sing your praises in front of decision makers.

  • Pop an email through to LinkedIn contacts, asking if they know of any positions that may be up for grabs;
  • Start keeping in touch with EVERYONE. Send a mail to the recruitment consultant who contacted you last year about an unsuitable role or zap a note to that ace resume writer who helped you create a new LinkedIn Profile;
  • Pay attention to friends and family. “John just left X Company to work for Y.” Is X Company looking for someone to replace John?
  • Contact old classmates through educational alumni groups;
  • Ask your existing network if they know anyone else you should be talking to;
  • Use websites such as to…well, you know.


Speculate To Accumulate.

Is your resume sitting on your hard drive somewhere, gathering dust? Only brought out to be emailed off when a role on a job-board takes your fancy?

Start making it count.

Send some speculative applications. Identify organisations you want to work for and whip up a bespoke covering letter, stating how interested you are in working for them. Add your resume and ask to be put on file for future opportunities.


Volunteering can be a really positive way of approaching the hidden job market, particularly in the public sector. Schools, hospitals, community centres and libraries often have voluntary positions available. Show them the goods in an unpaid position and you will jump to the head of the queue when a paid role becomes available.

Be strategic in who you target and what role you want. Whilst standing in shopping malls fundraising for a homeless shelter may make you feel good, it won’t especially help you in securing the e-commerce role you want. Stay focused and choose who you want to share your skills with wisely.

Seek And Ye Shall Find.

The easiest way to tap in to the hidden job market is by changing your approach. Instead of strictly following the path of full-time, permanent employment, seek alternative ways to get ‘your foot in the door.’

Keep up to date with news stories about business and identify what problems are facing them. Once you know what issues an organisation has, you can position yourself as a solution.

Is a local small business recruiting in the papers? Offer your services on a one off basis as a Recruitment Consultant. Your favourite coffee shop is being made over? Ask if they need someone to project manage so they can concentrate on the business as usual.

As organisations expand, you never know what roles could come up. Additionally, if you do a good job, you can be sure of positive endorsements and referrals in the future.

Reach Out.

This may be an uncomfortable one for some people, but sometimes, picking up the telephone and requesting an informational interview can be a huge step towards securing a new role.

Let’s face it, people like to be admired. Use this to your advantage by contacting people in your chosen industry directly and ask them for a short chat to discuss their career to help with your research.

Not only does this help you in identifying your own next steps in securing your dream role, but also adds another person to your networking group. Offer to buy them a coffee, have an informal conversation and remember to ask if there are any job openings coming up!

Make The Hidden Job Market Work For You.

Be clear about what you want and be reasonable about what may be available. Generally, senior director posts are often filled through word of mouth and recommendation, whilst entry-level jobs and middle management follow more traditional recruiting methods.

Junior roles at officer level are frequently filled by those known by those at manager level, with decision making responsibilities, so make sure you know who those managers are at the organisations you wish to work for.

Finally, make sure you continue to use traditional methods of job searching. You never know, when your resume shows up in the hundreds submitted for a job advertised in the newspaper, the recruiter may just remember your speculative application or the chat you had at a networking event and place yours at the top of the pile.

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