This is a common question and the answer can vary greatly, depending on where you are as well as what skills and experience you possess. A common mistake job seekers make is to assume that the jobs listed in the local help-wanted ads and on Internet job boards are the only ones available. The fact is, these advertised opportunities probably represent just a fraction of the actual job openings; maybe as little as 20 percent.
You may be thinking, ” That doesn’t seem possible. How will companies fill a position if they don’t advertise?” They will fill the opening easily, particularly in this economy. Consider this scenario: an administrative assistant retires. The employer could place an ad in the local paper or online, either of which is likely to result in a flood of resumes. Now, someone has to take the time and effort to sort through the resumes, conduct interviews and make a hiring decision. Alternatively, the hiring manager could walk down the hall, ask five people if they know anyone who might be interested in the position. In this economy, there is a good chance they will. So, the hiring manager brings in a few people and makes a decision without ever placing an ad.
So, how do you find one of these jobs if they are not advertised? It definitely takes a lot more work than simply visiting online job boards. One of the keys to uncovering the hidden job market is networking. Building an expansive network greatly increases the odds that you will hear about job opportunities that fly under the radar. Start with friends and family. Branch out to former work colleagues, supervisors and classmates. Let everyone know that you are looking for employment. Touch base with your network often. You don’t want to be a pest, but you don’t want mention your job search once and never follow up. Beyond networking, there are other steps you can take to uncover the hidden job market. Use online maps to identify companies within a 20 mile radius of your home (or whatever distance you choose). Unless you live in a rural area, you are likely to be surprised by how many businesses exist in your target zone. Some may not be a good fit for the skills you offer, but many will. Do you know anyone who works at these companies? If not, you will you have to simply cold-call these companies. You could actually make phone calls, but it is a lot easier for the person on the other end of the line to dismiss you. You would be better served by walking into these establishments with a resume in hand. Even if the company does not have any openings at the moment, you have the opportunity to make a connection with someone, leave your resume and put them on notice that you are available. You never know — the company’s workforce needs could change a week after your visit, at which point, you will already be on their radar.
Another way to identify potential employers is to read the local newspaper and any local business publications. After you peruse the classified ads, read the business pages. There might be a story about a new business or an existing business that had a great year or just landed a new contract. These types of stories can provide excellent clues as to which companies could be expanding now or in the near future.
Lastly, do not hesitate to revisit employers with whom you interviewed but did not get the job. Maybe the person the company hired didn’t work out. Maybe it is adding some more people. Don’t assume that someone will call you in these situations. You have to be the aggressor and fight for employment. There is nothing wrong with calling or emailing the person with whom you interviewed to ask if other opportunities might have opened since you met.
All of this — asking friends and family members for job leads, cold calling employers, going back to employers that didn’t hire you — is definitely out of the comfort zone for most people. However, it is critical to put yourself out there and open yourself to rejection in order to find employment in this market. You cannot hide behind the computer screen, posting your resume and answering online ads and expect to find a position. This approach basically depends on blind luck that a hiring manager will spot your resume in a sea of resumes and significantly reduces the number of potential openings to the 20 percent that advertise. Remember, finding a job is your full-time job. So, be aggressive and go get it, because chances it’s not going to come find you.