By Kevin Brennfleck and Kay Marie Brennfleck
National Certified Career Counselors and Life Calling CoachesSM
Are you searching online for your dream job? Has looking at job boards become a full-time hobby as you hope and pray you’ll find a job that will be rewarding, fulfilling and meaningful? It seems promising; after all, there are thousands and thousands of jobs posted on websites. The truth, however, is that many of the best jobs—the type of jobs that people would call "dream jobs"—are never advertised online.
So, if you’re in search of a job that’s a great fit for you, you may need to use some new strategies in your job hunting. Many great jobs are in what is called the “hidden” or unadvertised job market. Studies show that at least 50% (some say as high as 85%) of available jobs are not advertised online. Instead, they are filled through internal referrals, networking (including the use of LinkedIn.com) and through candidates who happen to contact companies when they have openings.
Why would employers not advertise their job openings online? Many find they spend a significant amount of time and money to post openings, review resumes and interview candidates, and still don’t end up with the right person for the job. Employers know how easy it is to apply for jobs online (sometimes with a single click) and this results in many unqualified applicants submitting resumes. In contrast, employers who use networking and other methods can reduce their investment and increase the chances of finding the right people to fill their open positions. Therefore, many employers will choose to not advertise their jobs.
Career experts agree that one of the primary ways to find jobs in the “hidden” job market is to network with personal contacts. Just knowing that networking is important, however, is not enough. You need to develop specific skills to enlarge and utilize your network effectively.
Here are five skills that will help you to successfully tap into the “hidden” job market:
1. Create your "30-second commercial." When you are job hunting, you are the "product." In today's fast-paced business environment, you need to be prepared to communicate quickly what you have to offer an employer. The first step in creating your sales pitch is to identify your job target. A job target is a job title such as "meeting planner," not a general career wish such as "doing something that uses my people skills and organizational abilities." You cannot get into the hidden job market without being focused.
Then, for each job target, identify the key information about your transferable skills, experience, knowledge areas, and personal skills (that is, personality traits) that relate to the job and showcase what you can do for the employer. Write out the information in paragraph form, and then work with your sentences until they sound conversational. (For more information, see our article, 30 Seconds to a Better Job.
2. Develop your contact network. Begin by making a list of people you know who might be helpful in your job search. (Think about current co-workers, former co-workers, friends, family members, church contacts, networking/job fair contacts, professional contacts, parents of your children's friends, current/former classmates, teachers, and social/community organization contacts.)
Enlarge your personal contact network by using strategies such as soliciting referrals from your initial list of contacts, attending professional association meetings for the field of work you are targeting, and using social media such as LinkedIn. (See our articles How Personal Contacts Can Get You into the "Hidden Job Market" and Use Social Networking to Find Your Next Job for more suggestions on developing your network.)
3. Use the power of LinkedIn. Andrew Hickey says, "The single, simplest thing you can do to get more out of your LinkedIn account is increase your participation. Spend at least 10 minutes a day adding to your network, participating in appropriate discussion boards and reaching out to those who could help you in your job search. Here are steps for creating a strong LinkedIn profile, creating a network and engaging your network.
4. Learn how to approach people in your network. First, be aware of your mindset about networking. Many people avoid networking because they believe they will be "using" people for their own gain. This is a legitimate concern, because people who approach networking thinking only about their own needs run the risk of alienating their friends and professional colleagues.
Networking, however, can be a mutually beneficial process. Yes, you will be asking for something you need, but you can also be on the lookout for ways you might be of service to the other person. From this perspective, networking can be "win-win." Be alert for contacts, information, articles or other resources you have that could be of assistance to the other person, and readily offer to share them.
Second, think through what you will say ahead of time so that you communicate clearly and effectively. For more specific guidance, see our article, Contacting Personal Contacts to Get into the "Hidden" Job Market.
4. Be intentional about developing and/or honing your networking skills. Most people do not network effectively because they haven't forced themselves out of their comfort zone to learn or refine the necessary skills.
Job hunting is stressful, and in times of stress we revert to old habits. If you find that instead of sharing your "30-second commercial" (which communicates specifically what type of work you want and why you would be a good fit), you are saying things like, "I'm looking for a job. Let me know if you hear of anything, OK?" ask yourself how effective this has been for you. If you want success in your job search, commit yourself to learning and practicing the skills that will lead to getting the job you want.
5. Do it! Information about networking is not enough. Practicing networking skills is not enough. Ultimately, you have to usethe skills you have learned and practiced. For many people, soliciting information, referrals and leads does not come easily. But the good news is that the more you do it, the easier it will become. Learn, practice, pray, and then "move your mouth" in situations in which you find yourself with other people. You never know what will come of a "chance encounter" with the parent you are sitting next to at your child's ball game or the person you meet at a friend's barbecue. Your next job may be just a conversation away!
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You don't have to "go it alone" in your job search. We are here to help you better understand your God-given design, identify the right job targets, and use the best job search skills to find work that fits your design. We invite you to check into our career testing and professional career counseling services.
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