Tapping the Hidden Job Market Through LinkedIn

By Don Goodman

     I think we've all heard it - 80% of all jobs are in the unadvertised "hidden job market". What exactly does that mean and how do you break through to find these job gems?

     The term hidden job market refers to jobs not advertised and they generally fall into three categories. The first are those that are known to a handful of people including executive search firms. These may be advertised in a very limited way, particularly on niche publications and small, highly targeted job boards, but they are very hard to find.

     The second are the jobs that are discussed internally but have not been posted. Internal discussions have taken place but no formal advertising has occurred. An example would be where the CEO tells the CFO that "Maybe we need to beef up our sales organization", but no firm decisions are made. Similarly, the third category is when there is a problem waiting for a solution but no position has been identified. In these last 2 categories, an employer will hire someone if they find them, but they are not actively searching.

     So how do you tap into this market? The answer of course is networking, but most people do not really know what that means. Networking is more than just asking your friends and colleagues, "Do you know anyone who is hiring?", and in this digital age, networking has become much easier and more effective. Here are some important steps for you to take.
     The first thing to do is to get a great resume that has a strong value proposition and distinguishes you from other potential candidates. Other key materials to develop include a 1-page synopsis (or mini-resume) and your 30-second pitch statement that communicates your brand or value.
Now you MUST also setup a profile on LinkedIn as that is where most internal and external recruiters will go to source talent. Make sure you have the right keywords throughout your profile so you can be found. You can test this by searching for people in LinkedIn and seeing where you appear. You should also spend some time getting recommendations to prove that you can deliver what you promise.

Once these are done, follow these steps. 

1. Join LinkedIn groups as it is a way to quickly add a LOT of people you can communicate with when asking for advice and assistance. Start answering questions and demonstrate your knowledge to support your value proposition.

2. Using LinkedIn's company search, identify 10-30 companies you would like to target. There are two ways to do this. First do a company search where you can specify size, location, type of company and so on. LinkedIn will present a list of companies to you.
Or you can search for people with similar skills in your area and see where they work. For example, search for IT project managers in San Jose and you will see a list of people and the companies where they work.
After doing the company search, identify the decision makers and key influencers. Your mission now is to learn as much as you can about the company and get in front of these people so you can tell them how you would assist in solving their problems. There are a few ways to do this:
- Start by seeing who you might know who knows someone who knows someone who can make an introduction.
- See what groups or connections you have in common.

3. After zoning in on who you want to contact, now build a relationship. Follow them on LinkedIn and Twitter. Follow the company too so you can stay abreast of any relevant activities. If they have posted questions or answers, then join the discussion and show off your talent. Find the same company leaders on Twitter and start engaging in value-adding conversations with them.

4. Create goals for yourself. People like job boards because they are simple and exciting. You see a job, you push a button and you have applied. The problem is that job boards have less than a 5% effectiveness rate. On the other hand, networking has over a 50% effectiveness rate. With job boards, you are at the mercy of what appears. With networking, you are proactively deciding where you want to work, so your future job satisfaction is also much greater.
To make networking be effective, you need to set goals, so establish a mini-project plan indicating your timeline for developing a resume, identifying companies, and how many contacts you will make in a week.
      Remember that 80% of companies recently surveyed are using social networking to find candidates this year. Follow these tips and your job search results will go up tremendously.

     Don Goodman, President of About Jobs ( www.GotTheJob.com ) is a nationally recognized Career Coach and Resume Writer. A graduate of the Wharton School of Business and Stanford University's Executive Program, Don has helped thousands of people secure their next job. Contact him at 800-909-0109 or by e-mail at dgoodman@GotTheJob.com.

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