What Is The Hidden Job Market?

Simply put, it is all those jobs (or potential jobs) that have yet to be advertised, such as:

  • Jobs that are still in the planning stages;
  • Jobs that will arise due to corporate reorganization or restructuring;
  • Jobs that will open up due to retirements, resignations, promotions, or transfers;
  • Jobs that arise because someone has been dismissed suddenly;
  • Jobs that will arise due to expansion plans or acquisitions;
  • Jobs that have been sent to a search firm but have yet to be advertised;
  • Jobs that are intended to be advertised in the future; and
  • Jobs that will never be advertised because the employer prefers to hire by word of mouth.

There is some debate about how large the hidden job market is. The truth is no one really knows because no one is keeping a list.

Regardless, I would say the number is large enough—some say it is between one-third and half of total job vacancies—to warrant your time and attention if you are in the job market.

The reason there is such a large hidden job market is that most employers, all things being equal, still prefer to hire someone who is known to them. If an employer is looking to hire someone and an employee, supplier, customer, or close friend recommends a candidate to them, the employer will see this as lower risk than hiring someone unknown to them.

And there’s another benefit to the employer: If they can successfully hire this way, they avoid the hassle of advertising the job, handling telephone inquiries, screening resumes, and interviewing dozens of candidates.

That is why you must access your connections to tap the hidden job market. The more people you connect with, the more career opportunities you will see. For that reason alone, you should do everything you can to build your personal connections and increase the number of people who might be willing to help you in your search efforts.

But remember: You still must be good at what you do.

That’s because if a personal connection—even your favourite cousin—is recommending you for a job, they are putting their own reputation at risk. By helping you and passing your name along to someone else, they are in fact saying you are a good person and capable of doing the job. If you get hired and somehow screw up down the road, they will look bad and their own reputation will be damaged.