Most people have heard of the hidden job market, and unfortunately I still find that not enough of those people have actually taken the advice about tapping into it for their job search. If you are one of those, it is time to jump on board. If you have not heard the term, the hidden job market is the word used to describe the unadvertised jobs that companies do not openly post or publicly advertise. They are the jobs that can be secured only through networking, recruiters, or the company creating a position for a specific employee for example. The kicker is that most jobs are landed through the hidden job market; up to 80%, according to some statistics.
Networking is a critical piece to your job search if you are in transition. What many people do not realize is that it is important to leverage the same tools you would use to tap into the hidden job market when you are defining your career path as well. Here is some advice on how to begin to utilize both of these in your search for your dream job.
1. Find people, not jobs. This goes for both job searching and defining your ideal career path. Turn your search on its head and focus on finding people to network with, not job openings. The more you do that, the better connections you will make, the more people you will meet, and the broader and more solid your network will become, enhancing your chances of landing a job (and the right job).
For defining your direction, the more people you can speak to in order to learn about the industries you are considering, the better. You will gain firsthand insight into what a typical day is like, what skills are required, and how to gain entree in the field from people who have been there and done that. Conduct as many informational interviews as possible to find out if your choices are the right ones before you make the leap.
2. Ask the right questions. When you are networking and conducting informational interviews, ask people about two critical pieces (at a minimum) to a fulfilling career direction. One is the tangible element of talents and skills. Make sure you are qualified for the career path you are considering. Will it make use of your talents and skills? Will you be good at the job? It has to be realistic for it to be a fit, especially because studies have shown that if people are not using their natural talents at a job, they will be unfulfilled.
A second important factor to consider is your values and the values of the organization. Do they fit and mesh well together? The intangible elements of a career path are just as important to consider as the tangible. Will you be happy in this industry? Will it fit with your personality type? Find out if this is the case by learning more about the industry through informational interviews.
3. Be prepared. Even if you are conducting informational interviews for the purpose of learning more as opposed to landing a job, you need to be prepared. Have your resume updated. Prepare an elevator speech so you can introduce yourself confidently, explaining your background and what you bring to the table along with the fact that you are researching job ideas to learn more. Be honest about the position you are in; that you are investigating ideas and not necessarily applying for jobs yet. People will understand and the better prepared you are to tell them what you need, the more they can help you.
The bottom line is you need to keep in mind that leveraging your network and the hidden job market is still the best way to not only land a new job, but to further clarify your career direction. People in the industry will know more than anyone else what it is really like to work in that field. So use that resource as much as possible. And remember, the more specific you are with your career search, the more successful you will be.