Where Is The "Hidden" Job Market?

Whether you’re out of a job or looking to advance your career, you might be tempted to start the search on big career search sites like or

But studies have shown that the published market (including the internet) contains only about 20% to 25% of open jobs. But why?

When a new position opens up, most employers undoubtedly look internally to see if there’s someone they trust to fill the position. If not, hiring managers and their teams look to people they know and trust outside of the organization to get the job done. They often do this before posting the position externally, so individuals who have connections get a head start. Sometimes there’s no competition at all because the “connected” candidate interview goes so well.

It’s then fair to assume that many advertised jobs are ones nobody really wants. And yet people continue to rely on the published market, sometimes exclusively, to find jobs.

The Hidden Job Market

The alternative is to look to the hidden job market – those positions that are never advertised, but are filled internally or through networking relationships. How do these jobs arise? The answer is in the following three problems, which hiring managers are almost constantly grappling with:

1) The underachiever. You know the type: bad attitude, comes in late, does shoddy work and people wonder how he keeps his job. Managers are well aware this person isn’t pulling their weight, but it’s not appropriate to fire him immediately. Often, the boss wants to line up a replacement before showing the underachiever the door.

2) The overachiever. This person’s great attitude, superior work and team player attitude doesn’t seem like a problem. But managers often lay awake at night worrying about overachievers. Why? Because they are too good for their current job. If the manager doesn’t promote the overachiever, they’ll go somewhere else. But the manager can’t promote the overachiever until they find a replacement – and they’ll look internally and to their network first.

3) New needs. Companies bring in new clients and projects all the time and often aren’t prepared to handle the demand upon winning the business. They need someone who can take charge and ramp up production – and they don’t have time to waste on an advertised job search.


How do you get into the hidden job market? How can you find out the needs or problems organizations are trying to solve today? And how will you position yourself as the solution? The answer is networking. All hiring managers are looking for good people, even if a position doesn’t exist. How will they know to call you first if you have never met?

As for the best way to network, that’s an article for another day. Until then, here are some links to blog posts I’ve written about networking that will get you started.

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