The secret jobs market

By: Shannon Houde | June 15, 2017

The new secret jobs market means new rules for job seekers.
The new secret jobs market means new rules for job seekers.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow for job seekers who spend their Sunday afternoons trawling the jobs boards and fine-tuning their CVs, but just as media has gone social, so too has recruitment. Easier, cheaper and faster than traditional hiring processes, networking is now the No. 1 way new positions are filled. And while it’s hard to get reliable figures, I hear time and time again from my corporate clients that these vacancies aren’t even necessarily being advertised. I call this the “secret jobs market,” and it has huge implications for your job search.

There are a number of reasons: Internal connections, online recommendations and a personal brand can tell employers much of what they want to know about a prospective employee long before a resume lands in their inbox. Given that hiring managers are under such pressure to find the best candidates and reduce the risk to the company of a subpar hire, it should be no surprise that they’re making use of less formal, more social channels.

The rules, revisited

The new secret jobs market means new rules for job seekers. My key takeaway? The 80/20 Rule, whereby 80 percent of your time should be spent on networking: 60 percent on real-life relationship building through conferences, events, coffees and cocktails; and 20 percent on online branding such as Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and websites. The remaining 20 percent should be spent on job postings.

Many people cringe at the thought of networking — it can feel uncomfortable and contrived — but it’s up to you to get the word out and sell yourself. In fact, it’s crucial. Building and reaching out to your network doesn’t have to be scary and sales-y. Think of it more as a professional friendship. To demystify the process, I’ve set out my top five tips for navigating the Secret Jobs Market.

Build your personal brand

Your personal brand is what sets you apart as a candidate. Don’t have one? I hate to break it to you, but whatever comes up on the first page of a Google search for your name, general location and broad career interests is your personal brand. Either you take control of it, or fate does.

Enhance your social media accounts with friendly photos, regular posts and keyword-heavy bios, and consider starting a blog to boost your profile.

Put relationships first

With more than 50 percent of jobs landed due to personal connections or referrals, it is crucial to leverage your network of contacts for your professional development. Shift your priorities away from CV perfection and towards human beings: take every opportunity to build professional friendships and enhance existing ones, make an effort to catch up with former colleagues and seek out a mentor who can help you grow.

Give to get

Networking should be a two-way street. When you reach out, always be sure to send your audience something that’s of interest to them or their business — competitor insight, sector white paper, article, news of a conference or legislation. You could even refer them to a lead that could help with new customers, funding or top talent. Or, simply offer a favor in exchange for their help. My Southern mother always taught me, “Never show up empty handed!” That way, when you need a personal recommendation or an internal referral, you’re more likely to get a positive response.

Do the hard work for them

If you are going to reach out to people you know for introductions, you need to make it as pain-free and as easy for them as possible. Start by identifying who you want them to introduce you to from their network — don’t put the onus on them to dig up names from their internal database of contacts. Then you need to write the script. Make it easy for your contact to literally cut and paste a blurb they can use to introduce you. My favorite approach is a one-page job proposal.

Send a bio, not a resume

Instead of sending a resume, try attaching a less-formal, 2,000-character bio. This should tell a strong story about why you have credibility in the market so that you look like a reputable contributor, not a desperate job seeker. Remember that you also can point them to your LinkedIn profile, which in essence is a public resume anyway. Frame it like an elevator pitch: concise; clear; confident; and skills-focused.

Shannon Houde is an ICF certified executive and career coach who founded, Walk of Life Consulting, the first international professional development advisory business focused solely on the social impact, environmental and sustainable business fields.

 

Comments

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To get a suitable job and to build a suitable career through the job is necessary for every student. Therefore after completing graduation, students are looking for better career growth. Here from this article, we learn about the job market and how students are able to take advantage of the current job market to grow their career as according to them. I completely appreciate the efforts of this post.
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Nicely expressed. Looking for more like this.

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Wow, they are very great steps to get a job. Thanks for the suggestions.

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Amazing! Check out this top list of online jobs for student in 2017.

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Completely true. Job seeking sites is now a last resort to companies looking to hire employees. I agree with the statement that hiring managers are overloaded with work and prefer to receive referrals from present company workers. I know this because I'm currently working in such company, and "friends and family" are always on top of the prospecting lists.

The most difficult part is starting your first serious job, excluding jobs students prefer in their college years to be able to pay their bills. In time you work your way through and start building authority, or as you say, to brand your name. I have several years of experience in commercial cleaning in London and I've got to the point where I got my own team of commercial cleaners that I manage, including hiring new staff.

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