How do I find a new job? (4):


JobsThe importance of networking was the underlying message in my last article. However there are a number of different routes which potentially provide you with a path to your ideal job.

Job opportunities always exist but it is not always easy to find them. The job market can be complicated. You need to be aware that there is not only a ‘visible’ job market but also a ‘hidden’ market too.

In searching for the job you really want you will need to explore all routes to market.

So let’s shed some light on both the ‘visible’ and ‘hidden’ job markets

Tip 10: The visible job market

The visible job market is straightforward insofar as companies have jobs and they offer them openly to anyone who may be interested to apply.

Whilst there tends to be some integration nowadays between the different routes within the visible market for jobs; essentially there are three routes as follows:-

1.    Advertised vacancies: Historically this has been the established method of making opportunities visible to jobseekers. Vacancies are advertised in the print media such as newspapers and trade magazines, and candidates simply apply as required.

Within job vacancy advertisements, companies provide clear guidelines on the competencies they require. The list of competencies is often split into two categories; essential and desirable.

If an advertised vacancy catches your eye, read the detail carefully. Highlight the skills, qualifications, experience and personal qualities required. Then assess how well you can match the attributes specified and remember the 80/20 rule.

Also remember to read between the lines, as organisations are trying to sell themselves, as well as the jobs being advertised.

To have a real chance of success, you will need to have at least an 80% match with the essential competencies required by the employer.

In the highly competitive job market of today you will probably need most of the desirable competencies too.

2.    The Internet: This second route is similar to the previous example. In this case though, rather than the print media, jobs are advertised through bulletin boards and job websites.

Vacancies are also advertised on companies’ own websites, particularly with medium-sized and large companies.

As in the print media, jobs advertised via the Internet will clearly state the skills, qualifications, experience and personal qualities required.

Most readers will be familiar with job websites and they can be a powerful way of finding opportunities.

Simply register your details and upload your CV or résumé and these sites will even send you email updates of potential opportunities. That is often true of company websites too.

So visibility of advertised opportunities when they occur is easy.

3.    Recruitment consultants: Sometimes rather than advertise directly employers will use a third party as an intermediary in the recruitment process to find the right person.

At the most basic level this is simply an agency arrangement providing nothing more than an initial screening process for advertised vacancies.

Employers advise the recruitment consultant of a vacancy. The recruitment consultant advertises the opportunity on its website and in its job shop, if it has one. It also checks its database for any appropriate CVs or résumés it might have on file.

A sector specialist within the recruitment consultancy will go through all of the potentially suitable candidates and draw up a shortlist of candidates to be submitted to the hiring manager. As part of this process the recruitment consultancy might conduct screening interviews with potential candidates before any shortlist is finalised.

Essentially recruitment consultants are specialists paid by employers to identify suitable people for specific jobs. As they are paid by the employer, they are driven by the needs of the employer. They are not there to find you a job. They exist to find the right people for employers.

They do develop relationships with good candidates because it’s in their interests to do so. When an employer calls them with a resource requirement they want to ensure that they have visibility of plenty of good people. However they won’t be canvassing employers on your behalf.

There is a broad spectrum of consultants working in this specialised field with increasing degrees of sophistication. At one end there is the simple agency arrangement as described above. At the other of the spectrum there are executive search and selection firms. The latter really stepping over into the realms of the hidden job market and executive search firms tend to be tasked with filling the more senior roles.

The key message here is that you need to have visibility with whichever recruitment firms fit with the level of role you are seeking.

Building relationships with recruitments consultants is worthwhile. Not only because you might be a good fit with an active search they’re working on but also because you might be able to help them in their search for the right candidate. You might not be the right candidate but you might know someone who is. As always, helping someone now might pay dividends later.

The visible job market is straightforward. That’s not true of the hidden market.

Tip 11: The hidden job market

Companies do not always advertise jobs for all sorts of reasons. For a start hiring people is notoriously risky. Sometimes firms feel they can mitigate risk by keeping a job hidden until they spot the right person.

There are plenty of other reasons why jobs may never be advertised too.

For example the hiring manager might not yet have approval for recruiting someone but wants to ensure that they have identified the right person so that they can move quickly once approval has been given.

On the other hand a problem might exist but the need to recruit someone has not yet been formally identified. If the right person is already on the firm’s radar screen then they can proceed without the need to go through an expensive recruitment campaign.

In some cases the cost of advertising in the media would be regarded as just too expensive. This would probably be true for small to medium sized enterprises.

And recruitment can often be carried out quicker via the hidden market.

There are two main ways of exploring the hidden job market as follows:-

4.    Personal contacts: Essentially this was covered in Part 3 of this series and it is the front line in your networking activity.

Your personal contacts are the people who can help you get the information you need to find the ‘hidden’ vacancies.

 Through people you know, potentially you can gain access to people that would be useful for you to know.

It’s all about talking to people and finding out what is going on in your sector and where any ‘pain points’ are now or might possibly be in the future.

The main aim when networking with personal contacts is to obtain information and advice about:-

  • Your present and future plans;
  • The direction you might take;
  • Positions and opportunities;
  • Appropriate organisations; and
  • Possible further contacts

Remember; you are after advice that could eventually lead to a job; you are not asking for a job. Think of your networking meetings as business meetings.

When seeking a meeting with a personal contact; make it clear that you are not asking for a job nor do you expect them to know where you might find one.

Also remember that you should never approach too many personal contacts at once.

In talking to people you are seeking referrals. Ideally two names per contact. So if those contacts give you names you will need to follow these up quickly, i.e. within a week or so. Therefore in working your network you need to keep everything manageable.

5.    Direct approaches: This is the creative end of the job search process. It can be as simple as identifying companies for which you think you’d like to work and submitting a speculative letter with your CV. Not a particularly efficient approach but it can work.

A better way is to identify an issue or a problem faced by your target organisation where your particular blend of experience, skills and expertise is likely to be at a premium. Then you might have the chance to present yourself as a solution to a problem.

This could be as simple as hearing that someone has resigned and you move quickly to present yourself as someone who has what it takes to fill the role, therefore saving them from an expensive recruitment campaign.

Alternatively it could be that you’ve read an article in the press about a proposed expansion or the company winning a major project.

When a company has challenges, potentially there are opportunities. The extra demands the firm would have due to an expansion or a major new project, means they are likely to have resource problems, which could mean a chance for you.

So once you have identified a target organisation in this situation, it is important to find out everything you can about them. Look at the problems, the changes and the challenges. Find out about the people too. Who is responsible for what and who might be a hiring manager?

Always aim to approach the person who will be making the selection decision. Don’t just send a letter to the HR department. They may not even be aware of the opportunity and there’s a good chance your letter will get stuck in the ‘not sure what to do with this’ tray.

It’s better if you can identify the person responsible for the new project and approach him or her directly. If you can get a meeting with this person through your network then that would be ideal. Otherwise write a letter to than person making your case strongly and including a copy of your CV or résumé.

As a hiring manager, when I get speculative letters the only ones I will take seriously are those which firstly acknowledge a need which I may have and then go on to suggest how the author of the letter believes he or she might be able to make my life easier as a solution to whatever problem I have at the time.

See the world through my eyes and understand my pain points and I’m willing to listen to you. If I listen to you then it is likely that I will also be prepared to give you five minutes of my time. That is then your opportunity to sell yourself to me.

If you’ve done your research properly, and targeted the company carefully, then getting a foot in the door in this way is a real opportunity. Even if I won’t be hiring immediately, if you’ve made an impression, then you’ll hear from me as soon as I am ready to hire.

So there are five routes to the job market. However it’s important you understand the difference between the visible and hidden markets. And achieving balance in your approach is also very important.

Tip 12: Balance your campaign

The problem with the visible job market is that when a role is advertised competition for that job is very high, unless it requires highly specialised skills which are in short supply.

 A recent survey conducted in the UK provides an illustration as to just how tough conditions are in the job market. Apparently every graduate level role now typically attracts 85 applicants. In fact some skilled roles advertised in national newspapers in UK can attract literally hundreds of applicants. And the situation in most countries is quite similar.

In such a competitive environment winning a job offer is not easy, unless you really are absolutely the right solution to a problem.

Vacancies advertised on company websites present additional problems. For instance they often use computer-driven screening software as the first filter. Fail to mention the right keywords and your application can fall at the first hurdle without ever being seen by a human being, never mind the hiring manager.

Jobs do get advertised and people do get hired through this process. So it is possible to secure a job in this way. However it’s not easy.

You may favour one or two of the routes to market over the others, but you do need to spend time on all five routes to achieve a balanced campaign.

The proportion of time spent on each route should reflect the proportion of opportunities each route yields. Work out for yourself how much of your time should be spent exploring each route.

Far too many people fail to take the hidden job market seriously but this is a mistake. You can give yourself a much better chance of success with the right approach in this area.

It’s also worth noting that older applicants can find the visible routes can discriminate against them. Use of the hidden market means that experience, maturity and skill levels are more likely to be recognised and valued.

More in the next article to help you in winning that job offer.

So if you could have any job, what would it be?

© Roy Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2013. All Rights Reserved

Related articles:-

How do I find a new job? (1)

How do I find a new job? (2)

How do I find a new job? (3)

What job can I do?


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