Back To Career News

How to Land a Job on the Hidden Job Market

Topics: Career Advice
hidden job market
sturti/Getty Images

Online job hunting is mentally exhausting and only made harder by good advice. You can mindlessly spam dozens of jobs with “Easy Apply” on LinkedIn, but tailoring your resume for each job, crafting thoughtful cover letters and battling finicky applicant tracking systems will wear anyone down.

Job seekers dream of bypassing today’s job application process, which is why the call of the “hidden job market” is so alluring.

What Is the Hidden Job Market?

The hidden job market is made up of all the job openings that aren’t publicized online.

It’s unclear how many jobs make up the hidden job market. The claim that 80 percent of all available jobs are unadvertised keeps making the rounds, but has been debunked. Regardless, there are still thousands of people landing new jobs without submitting a formal application.

Why Does the Hidden Job Market exist?

There are a number of reasons that a company might not have published their job opening online, among them:

  • No one has written the job posting yet.
  • There’s a backlog of applicants from previous job postings.
  • The company sources their own candidates or relies on outside recruiters.
  • The company prefers hiring via employee referrals or promoting from within.
  • LinkedIn, Indeed and other job sites are expensive and charge the company per click. A company might have exhausted their budget and pulled their ad before committing to a new hire.

It’s possible for an agile job seeker to put themselves into consideration in any of these scenarios.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

How to Find a Job on the Hidden Job Market

Let your friends, family and followers find you a job

Most of us want to help the ones we love and respect. Let anyone that cares about your well-being know you’re serious about getting a new job. Tell them exactly what you’re looking for. Your biggest boosters will surprise you with the leads they generate.

Do you know anyone that strikes up conversations with strangers everywhere they go? Make sure they know what you’re looking for. Your name will travel.

Network, network, network

There is no better way to crack the hidden job market than good ol’ fashioned networking. This means following conventional advice of meeting up with alumni groups, attending formal networking functions, and making the rounds at relevant trade shows.

This also means beefing up your social calendar in general. Catch up with old friends and attend social events where you’re likely to meet new people — dinner parties, baby showers, trivia night. Let people know what you do and where you’re at in your career. Share your phone number or connect with new contacts on Facebook or LinkedIn so they can get in touch when something comes up.

Networking offline can reveal exclusive opportunities, but there is also work to be done on the web. Connect with more people on LinkedIn and engage industry peers on Twitter or forums like Stack Overflow or Quora. Develop your professional brand by creating and sharing thoughtful content related to your industry or working on side projects that utilize your professional skillset.

Make sure recruiters can find you

Every job seeker should be working to get the attention of recruiters in their industry. A good corporate recruiter can be your fairy godmother of jobs. A bad corporate recruiter might struggle to understand what you do and what types of opportunities you’re actually seeking, but your patience can result in new opportunities.

The first step is to post a master resume on all the job sites you’re already using. Ensure that your resume features exact keywords and terminology used in your industry for maximum searchability. Uploading a searchable resume on Indeed, Monster and other sites puts you in the way of recruiters’ initial sourcing efforts.

Putting some work into your LinkedIn profile is crucial to attracting recruiters in 2017. Eighty-seven percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to source or vet job candidates. Complete as many profile sections as possible, be thorough and to the point, and include your accomplishments and measurable results. Your headline should include your current job title as well as the title you’re pursuing. Recruiters use complicated Boolean searches to surface candidates with specific combinations of skills, so sprinkle your headline, summary, and work experience with skills and keywords specific to your qualifications and industry.

You shouldn’t give up on conventional job applications, but positioning yourself for success in the hidden job market could reveal opportunities that don’t exist on any job board.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever landed a job that wasn’t advertised? Tell us how you did it in the comments, or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jon Shields
Read more from Jon

Leave a Reply

3 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
4 Comment authors
Jen Hubley LuckwaldtTerri BAnonymous RecruiterScott Bennett Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Terri B
Terri B

I am in a great job that I know very well. I am good at my job, but I am at a dead end. So many responsibilities have been taken from me, as the department progresses and changes. I am in fear of being eliminated, so I am trying to find something I know I can do well, but will challenge me. My job no longer gives me joy, as it did for 21 years. I feel useless and I… Read more »

Anonymous Recruiter
Anonymous Recruiter

As a long time recruiter and recruiter manager I know that a large percentage (probably 80%) ARE the hidden job market. This is what i personally do, day in and day out, working with Silicon Valley technology companies – fill these hidden jobs. These execs and HR tell me the jobs LONG before there is ever a written job description or posting of any kind. I already have people interviewing and having the first chance well before anything is ever… Read more »

Scott Bennett
Scott Bennett

In keeping with this post, learn about what I call the unsung hero of the job search, that is, the inquiry letter, in The Elements of Resume Style. Links to paperback, audiobook, and e-book at

What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.