You have probably heard the expressions “hidden jobs,” or “hidden job market” or “unadvertised jobs.”

And I bet you are thinking? Why would a company “hide” or not advertise a job? And why should I care? And if I care, then how do I tap these roles?

Well the reality is these unpublished roles are THE key to landing fast, especially if you are an executive. After all, who sees job openings on Linkedin for a CEO?

Another little secret: even entry level and mid tier job candidates should know how to tap these opportunities to diversify their job search tactics.

Why don’t companies post roles? A firm may not want investors or competitors to know about a potential change, growth mode or instability. They might not publicize an opening because they plan to replace someone but this employee doesn’t know they will be replaced/fired.

Or a hiring manager decides to rely on his/her network for referrals, as this is a great way to pre-screen candidates and to avoid the flood of unqualified resumes and the work associated with reviewing applications.

The Stats Don’t Lie

A recent SilkRoad Recruiting survey (2017) had some impressive stats to report. Here are 3 that  we think you will find eye opening:

  1. Almost 80% of the firms interviewed (400+ total) cite employee referrals as the best way to recruit for roles.
  2. If a company is going to post a role, it will post first on its website, before it goes live on Indeed or Linkedin.
  3. For executives, the least successful to way to find a job is by looking online. Only 5.5% of the firms found executive candidates this way.

How do hidden jobs emerge?

When an executive leaves a role by either promotion or attrition, a company suddenly faces a crucial vacancy. For example, when a VP of Sales at a high-tech firm gets promoted to COO, this leaves an opening for the VP of Sales role. How does the company typically respond?

Before a job description gets posted, the new COO infiltrates the “hidden job market” by soliciting referrals from others in the firm, outside the firm, and in the industry. He/she might even consider internal candidates as part of the mix.

If none of the above tactics pan out, the COO may also meet with the company’s internal recruiter to see if they have any resumes in their database of suitable candidates.  

If the newly minted COO can find a candidate using the above approaches, the game’s over! (and, the job is never publicly posted).

However, sometimes the perfect VP of Sales is unavailable in the hidden job market, and the company is forced to become a bit more assertive and post the job publicly to find their perfect candidate.

The Public Job Market Emerges:

The job posting, once approved and budgeted, will typically be posted through these avenues:

  • The company’s firm’s website
  • A professional association website (such as the Association of Technology Sales and Marketing professionals). This is not completely a “public” job posting, as the posting can only be seen by members of the association
  • Indeed.com or LinkedIn. The downside to posting on these websites, however, is that potentially hundreds (250-400) people will apply. The competition is fierce, so how can you get your resume to the top of the pile?

Since the COO is seeking an executive candidate, he/she might choose to engage an executive search firm, such as Heidrick & Struggles or Spencer Stuart, to help them source a viable candidate. The advantage to using an executive search firm is the firm will screen candidates extensively, including probing candidates for a cultural fit at the client company.

For more information on the hidden job market, read Aspire!’s articles on “Seeking out the Science on Search Firms” part I and part II.

Also, don’t miss last month’s interview with Gina Riley, Executive Search Consultant at The Talence Group.

In the next article, we will provide some tips on how to effectively prepare yourself as a candidate to tap the HJM. Stay tuned!