How to Search for “Hidden Jobs”

By Erica (Wezner) Tew, CPRW

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Are you applying to jobs online without getting many results? Step up your job search and find hidden jobs with these steps.

First: what is a hidden job?

A hidden job is a job that is not publicly advertised. You won’t find the position on job boards or banks online. It won’t be on the company’s website. It’s not a “secret,” it’s just a matter of timing. The earlier you can get connected to a company, the better your chances are for obtaining a referral and increasing your chances for an interview or job offer.

There are two types of hidden jobs.

  1. Jobs that are not yet posted. The company is reviewing other options before publicly advertising. Some companies want internal referrals first, while others may be working out budget concerns before posting.
  2. Jobs that you create. This is less common due to budget constraints but this can happen after you network your way into a company. The employer may not have an opening, but you make a strong case as to how you can help and you sell your skills to get a job created for you.

How do you find these jobs?

Start with developing some habits that will help throughout your career:

  • Connect with your network. Tell your friends, family, social media connections, and former colleagues that you are looking for work.

When asked about what type of work you are seeking, be focused. Avoid saying, “anything,” because it provides no information.

Be polite, respectful, and appreciative to your network. Ask for referrals or introductions to build more contacts within your target industry. If you’re connecting online, be sure to personalize each message.

Arrange informational interviews over the phone or in person. Not everyone may be able to agree to this, but learn as much as you can about how someone got into their position. Maybe they had a strategy you currently aren’t using.

  • Determine your strengths and key selling points.

Write a list of what you consider to be your strongest skills. Review past performance appraisals or ask your network to get started. Take assessment tests to fill in areas you missed.

Write down ways you have used those skills in a successful way. Think of your professional accomplishments or important projects you completed. What role did you play in their success? When you determine what makes you stand out for the rest of your competition, you have determined your key selling points.

  • Develop your elevator pitch.

Uses the information gathered from your key selling points to draft a pitch that explains who you are and the benefit you provide to an employer. Use language that is comfortable and natural for you. For example:

“I design websites and marketing materials that generate interest and gain customers. I increased traffic 45% for my previous employer by advertising on social media, reformatting pages to increase loading speed, and optimizing pages for high rank in search engine results. I’d love to talk more about how my skills could help your company.”

  • Research employers to target.

?You may already know of a few employers in your area. Create a list of your top 5 to 10 employers in your search area to prioritize your efforts. Then, see what jobs they have available. Find out if any of your contacts know someone who works there to get an introduction in person or online. 

Pay close attention to business news. Which employers are expanding or coming to the area? You can find this information in business journals, labor departments, newspapers, or other online resources. This information will also give you insight when it comes to targeting a company. Are they doing well or are they facing a hard time? Weigh the information when you create your list.

  • Market yourself to build interest.

If you haven't already done so, develop your resume and post it online. Highlight the strengths and success stories you compiled to develop your elevator pitch. Reflect this information on your LinkedIn profile (without repeating information word for word) in case a recruiter is searching for someone with your experience.

Use your elevator pitch to contact employers. If you’ve arranged meetings through your network, explain your goal and deliver the key points of your elevator pitch to the employer. Explain how you could improve their business.

If you don’t have an arranged meeting, send a letter or email requesting one when the employer is available. Use points from your elevator pitch to immediately grab attention while speaking to their needs.

For comparison, think of a cover letter. How do you begin one? Most people might say, “I’m writing to inquire about any potential job openings.” Very boring, right? If you modify your elevator pitch, your cover letter will lead with much more impact. For example:

“Does XYZ Company want to increase its website traffic and expand their customer base? If so, I optimize websites and implement marketing initiatives that draw in customers from a variety of platforms. After analyzing issues and developing solutions for my last employer, I nearly doubled the daily number of unique visitors.”

This will benefit both types of hidden jobs: you may get a referral to an opening they currently have, or the employer may be willing to meet with you and discuss what options are available for someone with your skillset.

 

Overall, searching for hidden jobs means trying strategies outside of online applications. By meeting people, having confidence to market yourself, and knowing how to talk about your key selling points, your job search will improve.

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