Can you land a job in the hidden market?

You might have heard about the hidden market, where more than 80 percent of the jobs are filled through recommendations. These references are from people who 'know' the incumbents through different channels.

How to find the hidden market?

Everybody who works/ worked in a company/organization is aware that when a position falls vacant the job is first discussed internally to see who 'could do fit in the position'. Things start moving from here and people tend to send recommendations regarding people who might be 'just right' for the job internally and externally. This is depending on your network; you might get the hint to apply for so-and-so job, since it has fallen vacant. Your candidature would again be seen in context with the reference you receive, i.e. Does the person (who recommended you) know you well professionally?, Did he/ she work with you before?, Did he/she appraise your work capacity?

From the above, you will notice that the most important thing is to be sufficiently networked so your name would be the choice of recommendation for as many vacancies as possible. Hence, in order to be part of the hidden market, you ought to be on that deserving candidate list.

How to gain entry on the recommendation list?

Logically speaking, you are a commodity in the market of jobs. Your employability will depend on:

  1. Advertisement - how well you 'advertise' yourself in the market will be critical to your figuring on that list. People should know about you, about your whereabouts, about your latest achievements and expertise. You would need to have the information circulated as often as possible, so those who know you should immediately think of you when the opportunity shows itself in the form of a job.
  2. Brand - the strength of your professional branding is yet another critical aspect towards this goal. You need to be known in your circles as THE professional in your field. Hence, you brand image should be strong and clear. People who hear your name should simultaneously think of your professional prowess.
  3. Professional repute - your reputation with your past employers and colleagues is very important. People from the same profession tend to exchange notes all the time. Therefore, if you were known as a rebel or as an undependable person, be sure that the word would be out. You need to have and maintain an impeccable professional reputation if you are to gain entry on the 'recommendations' list.
  4. Networking ? networking is the greatest and most efficient tool you can have at your disposal to use as entry into the hidden market. There is nothing more powerful than having an excellent network. You should cultivate a peer group network as well as one with senior and juniors. Your availability, your professional strengths and your choices of work should be well aired on these networks. Whenever a vacancy will fall free, any of these people would be able to recommend your name.
  5. Grape vine ? you are aware how powerful this informal system can be in carrying and propagating information. You should make it a point to use this system to your advantage. Always feed the grape vine with positive feedback. At the same time, ensure that it is known that you are looking for a career move if the right opportunity presents itself. You will be surprised how efficient the grape vine can be when used well. Remember, you could cultivate the grape vine in more organizations other than your own, with the help of your network. Here, the motto, 'Any publicity is great publicity' seems to work well.