How to Crack the Hidden Job Market

13 Feb

I was talking to a candidate recently who was getting frustrated with his job search. He said:

"Half the jobs out there don't seem to be advertised, and the ones that are advertised always seem to be filled already!"

"Well, yes, obviously!" I thought but didn't say.

What my candidate said was entirely accurate.

There have been many research studies over the years that show that over half of all job vacancies never get advertised. Estimates range from 60% to as much as 85% of all vacancies go unadvertised. The variation is based around geographical location and industry. But all researchers agree that the advertised job market really is just the tip of the opportunity iceberg.

Why are so many Jobs Never Advertised?

1. It's Confidential - Part 1

When a key member of staff decides to move on this can destabilise a whole team. People start to worry about who their new boss or teammate might be. They begin to think maybe its time they had a change themselves. Or they might even think "Hey, that new place you're going to sounds great, do you think they would like to hire me too?"

So it's no surprise that when a key member of staff resigns, the employer might want to keep this under wraps for a while.

In this situation advertising the vacancy is the last thing an employer is going to do. And even asking around their own network could easily set the gossip mills turning.

Far more likely, they will instruct a recruiter to carry out a discreet search for someone to fill the role.

So the recruiter has the vacancy but is under strict instructions not to advertise it.

2. It's Complicated

It's quite often the case that an employer knows they need some extra help, but don't have a clear idea of the exact job role they want to fill.

This is quite common when a team is expanding. The employer can work around the skills of the existing team to fit in a new person.

So I quite often hear: "I need an extra person in the restaurant, could be Demi level, or up to Head Waiter. I can move things around to make it work for the right person."

Or: "I could use a chef de rang, or maybe a junior sommelier.".

These are absolutely real vacancies. They are never going to get advertised, but a good recruiter will know if you fit the bill for one of them as soon as they speak to you.

3. It's Confidential - Part 2

Where an employee is underperforming and going through the performance management process or disciplinary process. The employer may be pretty confident that they are about to have a vacancy but will not be able to advertise.

In this situation again, they will instruct their recruiter to conduct a confidential search, and the job is likely to be filled before they are ever free to advertise it.

An under-performing employee puts stress on the team and can compromise an employers ability to deliver an excellent service. So often, although these vacancies don't get advertised, the employer is keen to get them filled fast.

4. Right Time Right Place

Going through the process of recruiting a new staff member is time-consuming, expensive and painful. When they get an unwanted resignation, most hiring managers take a deep breath and take stock for a little while before they contact HR and get the recruitment process moving.

If your CV happens to land in the hiring managers inbox just at that perfect moment: you stand a good chance of getting the job before anyone else ever gets to hear about the vacancy or has the opportunity to apply for it.

5. The "Vacancy" Doesn't Exist.

Plenty of employers may be fully staffed, but will still "Make Room" for a great candidate who happens to come their way.

This happens for lots of reasons and in lots of different job roles.

In high staff turnover jobs for example, like junior chef roles or junior waiting roles, staff turnover is often so high that even if a team is at full strength right now, chances are someone will be moving on in the next few months. So it can often make sense for an employer to get ahead of the hiring game and spend a couple of months overstaffed, rather than struggling to find good people at busy times of the year.

If the right senior person comes along, it can often be the catalyst needed for a business to start a new project, diversify or expand.

In times of staff shortage and almost full employment, like now, this practice is getting more common all the time. Employers can't afford to let good candidates pass them by. Because there's just no knowing when another one might come their way.

6. It is advertised, just well hidden.

Advertising on the major job boards costs money, anything from tens to hundreds of pounds.

So many employers will choose to advertise a vacancy on their own website for a time before spending money on external adverting.

These adverts tend only to get seen by people who know exactly where to look - and have the determination to keep checking for updates.

If you've ever looked for the "Careers" section on a hotel website, you'll probably know what I mean. And these vacancies often don't show up in a google search.

So if you don't know exactly where to look these vacancies are never going to show up in your job search.

7. Recruiters Hate Writing Job Ads

And this goes double for restaurant managers, General Managers and even HR advisers.

Much as the boss might say that all jobs have to be advertised if a recruiter can find a way to fill a vacancy before having to go through the pain of sitting down and writing a brilliant job ad then she'll do just that.

And as most recruiters speak to dozens of job seekers in their field every week, it's pretty likely that when a new vacancy comes in the recruiter is going to know just the person for the job. And when that happens, the vacancy is never going to get as far as being advertised.

So there really is at least a 50/50 chance that you will never get to apply for your dream job. 

Working with a good recruiter, who is really well connected in your sector can open up a whole world of new opportunities for you.

So if you're still struggling to find your dream job, get in touch - I may just have exactly the role you're looking for.

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