Cracking the Hidden Job Market – How to Stand Out


Some ways to find an advantage when you’re competing against a crowd like this.

Whatever the state of the economy, it can always be tough for outsiders to crack the so-called. hidden job market.

But it DOES exist, and motivated job seekers can find ways to get on the inside track. Get these surefire strategies, from The Wall Street Journal.

4 Big Tips for LinkedIn Endorsements and Skills

In case you haven’t noticed, LinkedIn endorsements are here to stay. Why not make the most of this network feature on your profile?

Linkedin candyIn this fascinating piece from, here’s why: Using this section wisely is essential, because LinkedIn has now made it searchable by recruiters. So if you want to maximize your chances of attracting hiring managers’ attention, start doing these four things today.


What do you think of LinkedIn’s endorsements feature? Do you think endorsements are helpful? Let us know in the Comments.

Is Your Job Search Making You Look Out of Date? 5 New Rules You Need to Know

by Susan P. Joyce, career expert, Work Coach Cafe

I hear from many “older” job seekers these days who are frustrated with today’s job search process.  They are convinced that their “advanced age” (30, 40, 50, 60, or more) is causing them problems.  I think they could be right, but NOT, perhaps, for the reason they think…

Although I do not doubt that age discrimination exists, I know that other things could be negatively impacting these people.  It basically comes down to looking – and being – out of date, using old-fashioned job search techniques.

job hunt 685x1024 Top Job Hunting TipsIf you are over 40 or it has been more than 3 years since your last job hunt, you are probably unaware of how much recruiting and hiring practices have changed recentlly, particularly with the growth of social media and also with the tough job market we have been experiencing.

The 5 New Rules of Job Search

Regardless of age, being out-of-date is a very common problem and not, fortunately, an insurmountable one.  Here are some things you can do to address the issue, and become more up-to-date for your job search and your job.

1. Focus!

One of today’s “problems” is too many opportunities!  Studies have shown that we humans are almost paralyzed when we have too many choices – which TV show to watch (when you have hundreds of channels), which coffee to order (when it comes in dozens of variations), and on, and on, and on…

Going to a job board and entering only the location is asking for over-load.  Waaayyy too many choices!  I just typed “Chicago” into Indeed, and it showed me 57,000+ jobs!  Yikes!

To make your job search more effective, focus on 1 or 2 job titles you really want and the employers you would like to work for.

2. Bring Your “A” Game!

The way you handle this whole process of applying and interviewing for a job is viewed as an example of your work – which it is!

Use great care with all of your interactions with an employer or recruiter.  Take the time to craft your best response rather than hurriedly attaching your resume to a one-sentence email with a subject that simply (and very unhelpfully) says, “Resume Attached” or “Applying.”

Standing out from the crowd in a positive way is NOT optional.  Leverage the technology currently available, and you will also prove that you are not out-of-date.

  • Resumes
    Resumes have changed substantially with the availability of technology.  An old-fashioned resume stamps “OUT-OF-DATE” on your forehead! Most employers expect that you can use word processing software well enough to customize your resume and cover letter specifically for them.   Generic work-history resumes don’t often work well today.

  • Networking
    Studies show that the person who is referred by an employee is hired 5 times more often than the stranger who simply applies.  So, focus that networking on your target employers (or a class of employers).

    Find those former colleagues who you worked with well in the past.  Or that great boss you had 2 jobs ago.  Where are they working now?  Are they hiring?

  • Interviewing
    Be very well-prepared.  Expect to be asked, “So, what do you know about us?” and have a good answer ready based on your research on the employer’s website as well as what Google and LinkedIn show you.

  • Prepare positive answers to unusual interview questions, particularly for any “soft spots” you have, like gaps in your employment history, being fired, or anything questionable about your recent work history that could raise concern for an employer. Also, of course, have answers ready for the standard interview questions, like “Why do you want to work here?”  ”Why should we hire you?”

3. Be Visible!

Being invisible is like another OUT-OF-DATE stamp on your forehead!  Employers use search engines to research job applicants more than 80% of the time, according to recent studies.  They are looking for “social proof” that you are who you say you are, have done what you say you have done, would fit in well, and understand how to use the Internet for business.  If they don’t find that corroboration, they move on to the next candidate.

If you Google your name and find nothing about you on the first page or – at a minimum – the first 3 pages, this is a problem! Yes, it is better than having photos of you drunk at a party, but a lack of online visibility brands you as out-of-date (unless you are in some sort of super-secret profession, like spy).

It also makes you vulnerable to mistaken identity.  Oh, that person who has the same name you have and stole money from his or her last employer isn’t you?  An employer doing a quick Google search would not know it wasn’t you, and, most likely, they would not take the time to find out.

4.  Join LinkedIn!

LinkedIn is an excellent venue for managing professional/work visibility.  LinkedIn is usually # 1 – or very near # 1 – on any search of a person’s name on a search engine.  And, YOU control what it tells the world about you!  Your LinkedIn Profile needs to be 100% complete (LinkedIn guides you through that process), and then it will provide much of the “social proof” most employers are seeking.

LinkedIn will help you reconnect with those former colleagues, co-workers, and bosses, and give you opportunities, through Groups and Answers, to demonstrate what you know.

The Greater IBM Connection on LinkedIn

5.  Pay Attention!

Set up a Google Alert on your name.  Pay attention to what is visible about your name when someone does a search.  When something bad appears, you can bury it with other positive content, or you may be able to get it taken down.  If something can’t be removed, be prepared to address it in an interview or, even, in a cover letter or your resume, if appropriate.


Catch up with these New Rules so you don’t look out-of-date because looking out-of-date is probably hurting you more than your age.  The good news is that by becoming more up-to-date for your job search, you’ll be more up-to-date for your job!  So, you should be more successful once you land.  We’re never too old to learn something new – it keeps us young!


Greater IBMers, what would you add to this? Share your lessons learned in the Comments.

Job Hunters: Tips for Cracking into the Hidden Job Market

The hidden job market contains real positions – they’re not usually intentionally kept secret by employers, but circumstances can delay an announcement or obscure visibility to all but a few insiders. As a job seeker, you need to know how to access – and profit from – this underground job market.

by Debra Feldman,

If you have been job-searching during the past few years, you probably are aware that there is a hidden or unadvertised job market.Hiring guy - stick figure with sign

It’s likely that you have heard from friends and colleagues who found jobs through a networking contact or word of mouth and not by answering a classified advertisement, uploading a resume or completing an online application. Many such jobs are filled before they are announced to the public.

Post-recession, there are fewer outside recruiters filling fewer corporate positions; in general, the job market is less fluid because there are fewer jobs being created and less employee turnover. The modern employer’s job market (as opposed to candidate’s job market, where the candidates rule the roost) means that individual job-seekers must be more informed, more knowledgeable and be willing to work harder to find and land a job.

The hidden job market contains real positions. These roles are usually not intentionally kept secret by employers; when companies face a challenge, they rarely can keep this a total secret. However, circumstances may delay an announcement or obscure visibility to all but a few insiders. Every active and potential job-seeker should be aware of and know how to access the hidden job market.

Ignoring this huge proportion of the market essentially means reducing your chances for career success. The trick to accessing these unadvertised jobs is being connected to those who have authority to create a position or who know first about potential openings. Advertised positions produce a large volume of resumes and applicants, often more than the employer can effectively manage. Candidate able learn early about a prospective open position gain a competitive advantage.

It should be the goal of every serious candidate to access potential opportunities before they are public and to connect directly with hiring officials through a customized presentation, not a standard resume or just a LinkedIn profile. Such presentations should promote relevant abilities that exceed the employer’s basic requirements and make a favorable, memorable impression that will be top of mind for the hiring authority in the short-term and retained in the future.

Penetrating the hidden job market is no simple task. Strong networking, strategic target marketing, compelling skills presentation, unrelenting persistence and steady follow-up are among the best tactics. The unadvertised job market falls into three main sectors:

  1.  A position that is created just for a particular candidate. Such an opening is in response to the solution or candidate being available to the employer at the right time for both to reach an employment agreement. The job opening did not exist until that individual and the employer connected and identified a new role justifying a hire.
  1. A position whose incumbent will be eliminated when a replacement is found. There is no vacant position; the new person smoothly slips in allowing the old one to leave. Sometimes employers are too busy, do not want to make the required investment or have another business reason for keeping the status quo. But, if or when the right solution/candidate appears, then the company reorganizes, makes a hire and transfers or relieves the existing employee.
  1. A position that is approved, budgeted and vacant, but it is only known to insiders. It is not an official opening, is not publicly advertised and comes with a desire is to find the right candidate through a trustworthy referral. The employer is counting on its network to streamline the process, identify a credible, well-qualified prospect and avoid screening a lot of resume submissions.

To summarize, people land an unadvertised position in the hidden job market when:

  • a position gets created just for them (being at the right place at the right time);
  • an employer restructures to hire them; or
  • a candidate is known by the hiring authority or has a connection to a close trusted, confidante of the hiring authority, and the candidate provides solutions to the employer’s challenges.

The secret to penetrating the hidden job market today and getting a choice new position is having the right inside contacts before a job is officially announced or advertised and being the hiring decision maker’s top choice. The right inside connections are like “career insurance” — direct, early access to job leads, visibility to recruiters and personal networking contacts for plum roles.

Have any lessons you’d like to share? Post them for your fellow community members in our Comments below.

About the author:
Debra Feldman is the JobWhiz, a nationally recognized executive talent agent and job search expert. Contact her at