Statistics show that the hidden job market is where the majority of vacancies are. Research indicates that between 50% and 75% of jobs are never advertised. Instead, these vacancies are filled by people who build up a network of contacts or approach companies directly. Accessing the unadvertised jobs market is, therefore, a vital part of your personal marketing programme.
Accessing the unadvertised jobs market is about creating your own opportunities. It is a much more proactive approach than responding to advertised vacancies – although you should not neglect that element in your job search either. There are two main channels into the unadvertised jobs market:
- Speculative applications to potential employers
Surveys have shown that, on average, the chances of getting a job through an advertisement are below 7%. Getting a job through networking – focusing on your expertise, targeting an employer who will value your expertise, and arranging to see the person to hire these skills through your network contacts can, if properly conducted, achieve success rates of up to 86%. So networking can be 12 times more effective than answering an advertisement.
Networking is the process of developing personal and business contacts who can help you with information to identify job vacancies that have not yet been advertised on the open market or through recruiters, or who can refer you to someone else who can.
Although the main aim of networking is to get a new job, that is the one thing you do not ask your network contact for directly. Rather, look upon networking as a way of exchanging advice and information. There are a number of topics you can realistically cover which will lead you to your objective; these include:
- Advice on the career options open to you
- Ideas about what new directions you could take
- General advice on your CV
- Information about job opportunities
- Referrals to other people who can do any of the above
The first thing you must do is develop a network list. As a starting point, make a list of anyone you can think of who might be able to help you in your job search. Remember that although your best contacts may be at the management level which could employ you, valuable information and further contacts – and jobs – can result from contacts at all levels, in any role, in any organisation or sector.
Grasp every chance to broaden your networking opportunities. Attend exhibitions, conferences or trade fairs relevant to your target field. This gives you the chance to meet / renew contacts (and provides common ground valuable in telemarketing). To get a full list of the many events on offer, refer to the “Exhibition Bulletin”, available in most reference libraries.
If you are not already a member of a trade association or professional institute – join now. Most hold regular local meetings giving you an opportunity to meet contacts who could be useful to you and provide a way of keeping up-to-date on what is happening in your sector. The “Directory of Business Clubs, Groups & Associations” (available in reference libraries) is a good place to start finding out what organisations exist.
Speculative applications to potential employers
As between 50% and 75% of jobs are never advertised, speculative letters are likely to form a large part of your personal marketing campaign. Before putting pen to paper, consider exactly what company you are targeting and why.
You can approach companies directly at any time, but you are more likely to get a positive response if you can present yourself as a solution to a new challenge or problem faced by that company or organisation.
Research shows that a ’round-robin’ letter of the “I am writing to introduce myself and to discuss any opportunities you may be able to offer…” type stands a chance of about 1 in 1200 of getting a positive response.
However, a well-researched, carefully targeted letter can increase your chances of a response to about 1 in 30.
To a large extent, a successful direct mailing campaign is a numbers game. When marketers tell you that a well-crafted and targeted direct mail campaign can be expected to generate at best a 2%-3% response rate, that will give you some idea of just how many approaches you need to make. That is not to say that you can rely on volume to get results. Quite the opposite. An effective campaign is one that is extremely well targeted and researched.