By Janice Burch, Executive Resume Writer, Career Coach, Co-Owner at Pro Resume Center, LLC

So, you are ready to execute a job search. You've identified your target audience – the types of roles and industries to pursue – your materials are updated, your positioning and messaging is on target, ready to impress – and you are ready to launch a job search.

Like hundreds of thousands of other job seekers, you will likely use job board portals like Indeed, Google Jobs, Get Hired, LinkedIn and others to find and apply for roles – right? With this, you will spend hours in a laborious, time-consuming state – searching, sifting, and applying to executive-level roles, hoping to get through the filters and into the Yes pile of the HR Director or recruiter.

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Even with the most optimized resume built to navigate ATS filters, most candidates will still need to sparse, copy and paste for each online application. Though many companies may use similar platforms (PeopleSoft, Taleo, etc.), the application questions and organization can vary widely.

There is a better way – which is more strategic and with a greater ROI for your time and search efforts.


Don't just get in line, be the only one in line

Most jobs, especially at the executive level, are not publicly listed. For a few years now, recruiter and HR-based research has shown that 50% of roles are NOT publicly posted – including LinkedIn — but 60% of jobs are found through networking, not online job boards.

So, how do you find these roles? How do you get in the door of a company that does not have a listing that applies to your job search?

The hidden job market is all the referring and hiring that occurs far before or instead of companies placing job listings in public spaces, or with recruiters. Think about all the things happening before a company posts a job – it could be a pending reorganization or merger, some retirements in the next year or six months, or leaves of absence for critical employees, employees who have given a long-term notice they will be leaving in four months or maybe, a few people are going be relieved of their positions for performance issues. All of these scenarios occur behind closed doors, leading up to the company needing replacements or someone new who can bring a fresh perspective to an organization in need.

Years before the term “hidden job market” became commonplace and a hashtag on LinkedIn, we advised clients not to sit and wait for the role they wanted to open – but instead, think about where THEY wanted to land.

Are you ready to change your job search?

Let's get to work.

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Step 1: Define your target list

Getting inside an organization's door is not as tough as one might think.

We prompt clients to consider culture, types of clients served, company reputation, organizational structure and opportunity. Consider how the organization's mission aligns with your values and experience. Think carefully about the responsibilities you will own in a role for that company, and keep in mind your desired salary.

Step 2: Figure out who to contact

After determining your target companies, line those companies up against your network on LinkedIn. Do you know anyone who has worked there or knows someone there? Shared connections are easily spotted on LinkedIn, and you would be surprised how many people are willing to make introductions to shared connections if you just ask.

Assign connections and shared connections to companies you would like to interview and determine who might be the best person to contact based on their title, years in the industry, and your relationship with them.

Step 3: Develop your outreach messaging.

Your messaging will fall into a few categories:

  • Outreach to someone you know (or knew) who works at the company where you wish to work: Let them know you are confidentially looking for a new role, and ask if they have any guidance for you on the best tactics to get in front of the person who could be your Leader even though there are no listed openings
  • Outreach to someone who knows someone you want to meet – First, ask the common connection to see if you can drop their name in your outreach to their contact to be sure it would have some weight (because not everyone in our contact list represents someone we have an actual business relationship with then draft a concise and powerful message letting them know you are interested in their company, that you share a common connection and would they have any time to discuss opportunities with their company for remainder of 2023 or into 2024?

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What if you DO NOT have any connections or shared connections at companies where you wish to work? That's fine – you will take a more direct approach.

This is where most of my clients succeed in getting in the door, having conversations, and securing an interview. In this case, you will consider one of two types of messages:

  • Outreach to someone who would be a potential colleague at the company – and you simply wish to connect with them to begin building your internal network at the organization (this is a great long-term strategy, too, as you consider where you might want to work in a few years as you grow out of your current role)
  • Outreach to someone you would possibly report up to – these messages drive the fastest results. In this message, you need to tell them why you want to work for them and what you have to offer and try to get a phone call on the calendar

Tapping into the hidden job market is not difficult – it just takes research, strategic messaging, and outreach. Look into your network, be assertive in letting company leaders and owners know you want to work there – and tell them the value you have to offer toward their goals.

For more information on how we can help you prepare for and execute a job search and be ready for a career transition, visit HERE to see our services and processes.

You've got this — happy hunting!