Top 5 Ways to Accelerate Your Job Search: #5 – Conduct a Targeted Job Search to Tap the Hidden Job Market

Tapping the hidden job market (also known as a targeted search) is still one of the best ways to find a job. This is such an important concept to grasp that I developed an entire training session around the concept.

Here is what you need to know from a high level:

Roughly 80% of jobs are not advertised.

Read that sentence again – 80% of jobs are NOT ADVERTISED so you won’t find them on job boards like or THEREFORE, you’ll want to spent 85% of your time on a targeted search (locating the “hidden jobs”) and only 10% of your time doing a “traditional search” by applying to jobs on job boards.

You’re not likely to face much competition for these jobs found through a targeted search, either. How would you like to just compete with 1-2 others for the job (or maybe no one else) instead of thousands? Do you think that your odds for getting an offer will be better? Yes, your odds are absolutely better.

So, exactly what are these “hidden jobs”? They come about in a variety of ways. Before jobs are advertised, perhaps a need is there and the employer has not gotten around to posting it yet. Or, perhaps before advertising they are looking first for referrals. Or maybe there is not an opening at all, but the job seeker can convince the employer to create an opening. This is how many jobs come about before they get posted – we’re just referring to them as being “hidden” as this is the state they are in before they are posted online.

Here is how a targeted job search works, from a high level:

  1. In a targeted search, you’ll identify a list of 50-100 or more companies where you’d like to work. This can be done through a variety of methods. Perhaps you may have a list of companies you personally find interesting. Or, you have a local list of the fastest-growing companies or the best companies to work for. I also regularly create lists of target companies for my clients, based on things like geography, size of company and industry type (NAICS code or SIC code). I use a database that I subscribe to so I can generate lists of companies. I can easily create lists of the top 100 or more employers in a major city; or the top 100 or more consumer food companies in the United States. Or, lists can be created for mid-sized manufacturers within a 50 mile radius of your house. We create these starter lists of companies for our clients on a regular basis.
  2. Access is made by contacting hiring managers. I can help to identify hiring managers, and their contact information (email and phone number) as I subscribe to databases that have this information. I provide a script for what you’ll talk about with them. And no, you are not going to ask them if they are hiring or if they have an open job. It’s more of an informational networking interview. However, if they have a job or know of a job they will tell you about it. You’ll also connect with people they know. It’s essential to contact them in the proper way, and to have the right things to talk about. I have scripts for both. Most of the time these brief networking meetings will take place on the phone, and be brief. If the person is local and they are willing to meet in person, that is also an option.
  3. Read up on the company and industry before the meeting. This way you’ll come across as a knowledgeable person wishing to engage in an industry networking discussion. When you have your discussion, you should have done enough research to ensure you are also contributing to the conversation. You’re not going in there to be a sponge and just take. You’re going in there to have an intelligent conversation that you add something to.   There is a big difference. Through research, you can also learn about what challenges the company is facing before the informational interview. You can share thoughts on they might overcome their challenges, and even how you might be able to help overcome them.
  4. Be honest. Yes, you can let them know you’re currently researching new opportunities in the field (that you desire a job overall). But no, the focus of the meeting won’t be on you finding a job, it will be a discussion on trends and asking for advice and showing interest in the other person.

You’ll connect with far more hiring manager this way than if you just applied for openings seen on job boards like Indeed or LinkedIn.

Again, be strategic with your time. Spend most of your time on a targeted job search. This is a good breakdown as to how to spend your time hunting for a new job:

  • 85% – targeted job search
  • 10% – Online Postings* ( and such – applying to jobs and posting resumes)
  • Recruiters** – 2%
  • Job Fairs – 3%

*If you’re in an in-demand field, posting your resume on the site is also effective. However, if you are still working or need to launch a confidential job search, you’ll have to take extra steps to ensure you can’t personally be identified on the posted resume.  Executive recruiters often don’t post jobs – yet they can find you with an optimized LinkedIn profile and in other ways.

**IT / Tech job seekers should spend more time with recruiters than other types of job seekers.

You’ll want to ensure you have a well thought out email script for when you contact hiring managers.  They will be likely to chat with you if you approach them in the correct way.

You also need to have a well thought out script for when you actually engage with hiring managers. The intent of the meeting is to learn about them, their company and the industry, and ask for advice on the job search. If you say the wrong things, it can be easy to turn off a hiring manager.

If you tap the hidden job market, and spend your job search time in the percentages listed above, I guarantee you will have a much more effective search than if you just spend all of your time applying to posted positions.

Best of luck to you in your job search. If I can be of assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

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