Leverage Your Networking to Access the Hidden Job Market

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find a job on the hidden job network by networking better

The HR world has a new buzzword, and there's a good chance you haven't heard it yet. Everyone from hiring managers to recruiters to young professionals with their fingers on the pulse are talking about the "hidden job market." Just what is this market? It's the jobs, some experts predict an equal amount to those posted, that never appear on websites or the "employment opportunities" pages of company websites.

Some experts believe this hidden job market accounts for 70-80% of jobs, but it's highly debated. What does matter, is that the hidden job market exists and it can be accessed and capitalized upon.

Today, we're looking at just what this market is, and how to leverage your existing network to access it to find your next job.

Understanding the Hidden Job Market

access the hidden job market by presenting yourself as a viable candidate anytime you network

The hidden job market draws attention to the fact that there are far more opportunities for hiring than those formally listed and acknowledged. It includes positions that are not publicly advertised and are instead filled through networking, personal contacts, and employee referrals. It also refers to jobs that don't currently exist.

How is this possible? Hiring, and work itself, has changed drastically in the last decade. Between advances in technology and the pandemic, work looks different. And so does the process for filling positions.

Traditionally, employers had a set number of positions, each with a title and job description and pay grade. Things are defined differently, and often, more loosely.

Employers Have a Shifting Mindset When it Comes to One-Size-Fits-All Positions

The advancement of technology, and especially knowledge of social media and marketing, along with Gen Z hitting the workplace has significantly altered the traditional post and fill a position method.

Rather than siloing employees so that some are "doing" and others are "marketing" while still others are "selling," professionals who have multiple skills are hired and can be more elastic in their work.

Additionally, companies seek to be more efficient. Streamlining operations allows them to save money on salaries.

This allows employers to create positions based on internal candidates who are good fits. It also means that when there are needs in the workplace, they can think about ideal outsiders who would be able to take on what's missing.

What Does This Look Like?

A company has three staff in its design department. When one leaves the other two designers realize they can manage a 75% of the of the department's work.

Employers know that experienced workers are less-inclined to take a part-time position. They investigate where there are other gaps that need to be filled. They discover that finance and sales have more work than they can handle and wish to offload administrative work.

In this case, a graphic designer who has administrative experience and can manage a diverse workload is the best fit.

This is the type of position that gets created and filled when the right person comes along. In fact, employers may not even realize this is the solution until someone mentions they know someone who can fill both gaps.

This is a powerful part of the hidden job market and one job seekers who are thinking differently can access.

Accessing the Hidden Job Market

Finding the hidden job market comes down to relationship building. The jobs in this more fluid space require marketing oneself in a new way. For example, a portfolio of one's expertise, while great, doesn't communicate other skills they have. After all, most people are not one-trick ponies.

network better to access the hidden job market

The first step to accessing this market is having a clear understanding of what you bring to the table. While a traditional resume may work for a traditional job posting, the hidden job market is far more nuanced.

When sharing this information, it’s important to follow the “elevator pitch” model.

Princeton University describes elevator pitches as, “a brief (think 30 seconds!) way of introducing yourself, getting across a key point or two, and making a connection with someone.” Essentially you want to provide someone with a brief interest to you and make a connection so that they remember you once you part ways. 

The key components of this 30-second intro are:

  • Who you are: This is a professional intro so stick to the basics. You want to provide your name, what type of work you do (or are looking for) and anything you do that’s related to your field, like being a member of a professional organization or volunteer work connected to your field. For example, if you’re an attorney, mention any pro-bono work you do for charitable organizations.
  • What you do: Focus on 1 or 2 skills or experiences you have. We recommend having plenty in your back pocket that you’re versed in saying so that you can cater your pitch to the person you’re meeting. 
  • Your values and passions: Be sure to end by connecting what you’re passionate about and value and how it connects to your work. This is a great opportunity to connect on a personal level.
  • Practice Makes Perfect

    Elevator pitches aren’t natural, so be sure to practice.


    Yes, pratice!


    First, write a list of the things you could put in each category. Then, pick a few and try talking about them. 


    Watch yourself in a mirror and take note of when you naturally smile and appear relaxed. These are the things that resonate with you and should be included. 


    Once you’ve picked your pitch, be sure to practice it, with a timer running. You want to be able to speak at a regular pace and include the three points without feeling rushed.

    The second step is letting people in your network know your full set of skills. Doing this strategically is key.

    Falling into the cliche of "I'm a team player, quick learner and can fit in and do anything," doesn't give people much to go on. Instead, having a clear understanding of skills, experience and proof of performance matter. But how does one communicate this without simply listing them?

    Tools like a website and digital business card give job seekers an advantage. These tools are easy to change on the fly giving candidates the ability to curate exactly what is needed to be the prime candidate for the position.

    Imagine the power of being able to instantly connect digitally and provide links to those skills, experience and proof of performance. Suddenly, you've gone from wasting words to providing a laser-focused view of who you are, what you know, and what you've done. More than this, the other person can pull up your information as soon as they engage with others about hiring needs.

    Digital Business Cards + Your Network = Finding That Job!

    When meeting people face-to-face, a simple tap of your phone or scanning of your QR code gives contacts old and new a fresh, organized view of you as a professional. But it's not just a great in-person tool.

    In today's age of hybrid and remote work, digital business cards are the epitome of hybrid networking. They allow you to include a link or QR code everywhere you appear online.

    The addition of a virtual background for online networking really kicks things up a notch.

    Best of all, digital business cards make followup intuitive.

    Using a digital business card while you’re at networking events, conferences, or simply while you’re chatting with someone in line at a coffee shop is the best possible way to turn brief encounters into job offers on the hidden job market.

    Like any tool, though, you have to know how to use it. 

    Freshen up Your LinkedIn Profile

    Once you've engaged an existing member of your network, or added someone new, you want to make sure when they follow the links on your digital business card it brings them to a well-designed, professional LinkedIn profile.

    Take time to review yours and make sure it:

    Showcases your professional skills, experience, and achievements.

    Your LinkedIn should reflect how you're marketing yourself when talking to contacts.

    Includes that you're open to new opportunities.

    This one may sound obvious but it's important to let people know you're open. Often, if you're posting about your current work recruiters will assume you're not interested in leaving.

    Has up-to-date contact information for you.

    Check your contact info to make sure people can easily get a hold of you. While you're checking your contact info, also click any links that shoud send an email, text or call you to make sure they're still working.

    Shows your personality.

    A dash of personality can go a long way. Include mention of a hobby, or share an article about it once in a while. You never know who's looking and shares the same interest. You don't need to include much, but having a quick reference to a niche hobby is a great way to draw people in. "If you can't find me, I'm sewing hats for newborns at our local hospital," is far more interesting than "Sewing, cooking, reading, reality tv." Be sure you keep it short, sweet, and specific.

    Includes your digital business card.

    Include a link or your QR code so that people who find you on LinkedIn can dig deeper into your curated digital cv.

    And, of course, make sure your picture is up-to-date and professional! Profiles with photos are 14x more likely to be viewed

    Making Your Way Into the Hidden Job Market

    When connecting – personally, professionally, or in any other capacity – make sure that you're sharing who you are, what you do and highlight achievements. You never know who you might meet standing in line for coffee whose company needs someone with the exact skills you have to offer.

    Keep your LinkedIn, website and digital business card up to date so that you can confidently share your Popl contact card and know you'll be top of mind.

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