The elusive hidden job market: chances are, you have heard their statistic that 80% of new hires occur outside of the HR procedures. While that seems intimidating, do keep in mind that employee referrals rank pretty high as the actual source. But what about the other mass of new hires? How did they even get considered if the job wasn’t formally posted anywhere?
This is the essence of the hidden job market: finding jobs that are not immediately apparent to the public eye. Opportunities are usually identified by a combination of research and trigger events. When you pay attention to what is happening at your target companies and within your target market, you can begin to anticipate their future needs.
What are trigger events?
A trigger event is any change or development within a business that opens the door to opportunity. They are usually news-worthy, so it is possible to find trigger events just by reading the business pages or setting up Google Alerts on your target employers. Some examples include:
- Landing a new, large contract
- Expanding or moving to a new location
- Merging with another company
- Receiving an award
- Releasing a new, innovative product
- Hiring a new CEO, VP or other top manager
- Being featured on a Top 100 Companies list
- Being interviewed by the media
- Making a large charity donation
Research – The Keys to Success
Just because a trigger event hits the news, that doesn’t mean you are ready to pitch your job yet. First, you need to hit specific research to understand how you can help their organization. While researching, continually ask yourself “how can I make their job easier? How can I help reduce cost or increase revenue? Is there some particular mix of personality that I bring which can enhance their team?”
While researching a company, be sure to track down:
- Company history, products and services
- Key managers/ players and support staff
- Their growth plans and challenges
- Their strengths and weaknesses
Websites and resources for trigger events and research:
- LinkedIn Company Pages
You should follow the company page for any of your main target employers. However, you want to do more than just look for current announcements or job postings. Pay attention to the Employees listed on LinkedIn, as this creates a pre-sorted Advanced Search for you that makes it easier to research key individuals in the organization.
- Local business magazines like the Denver Business Journal or the Colorado Business Magazine
While major newspapers still do have business sections, more and more of them are relying on national news feeds to generate their content. It is a sound investment to pay for a dedicated, local business publication that will focus on the actual community where you want to live and work.
- Labor Market Indicator Gateways
Like most states, Colorado publishes monthly reports concerning the state of the employment scene for the past month and year. I find the “top hiring companies” and “top industries” extremely helpful: https://www.colmigateway.com
One philosophy with hunting hidden jobs is to not just consider your passion, but also what the market is doing in your area. For example, the Oil & Gas industry in Colorado has suffered greatly in 2015 and 2016. If you are a geologist that specializes in this field, just realize that there are less positions available than there were two years ago. That means your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and networking efforts must be spot-on to gain an interview.
- Chambers of Commerce
If you are targeting a medium to small sized business, your local Chamber can be a great resource. All of them list their business members, which you can use as a list of local companies without having to wade through a morass of statistical data from other sources.
Manta.com is another site that provides a lot of contact information on companies. In Colorado alone, over 450,000 companies are listed; however, not all of them have filled out the profile yet. In addition to address and industry, Manta.com also lists annual revenues, top executives and staff size. The original listings probably come from government listings, as the industry is identified by SIC and NAICS codes. It has a lot of Google ads too, so be careful what you click on – some of the ads look like links to the company’s application, but it is not.
Originally started as a way for start-ups to find investors, Angellist (https://angel.co/) now features jobs for companies across the US, with new locations and employers being added every day.
If you believe in following your heart, a job at a non-profit just might fit the bill. Idealist ( http://www.idealist.org/) is used by over 100,000 organizations across the US. The site features volunteer positions as well, so if you are looking for something to help you gain more experience while you conduct your job search, volunteering can add valuable information on your resume.
- Google Alerts
Once you determine your target companies, you can set up some news alerts through Google to send you a notification when this person or company gains some news or press online. This free service allows you the flexibility of when and where you want to receive your notices: https://www.google.com/alerts
Ideal Companies and Industries
Whether a company is open to the idea of pitched jobs or not has a lot to do with the company culture. Typically speaking, large, slow-moving corporations are less likely to adopt a proposed job from the outside – unless you have a very good networking connection within the organization. Smaller businesses have more flexibility to jump on new ideas, however, you may need to get creative with the pay to fit into their budget. Entrepreneurial ventures have some of the best opportunities, as they can move quickly and tend to be more open to trying new ideas.
Most people believe that sales positions are the natural fit for a pitched job. After all, you will be generating the revenue to cover the cost of hiring you. However, when it is structured and researched correctly, practically any role – from administrative assistant to CFO – can be successful.