Monday, June 5, 2017

Wait! There is a "Hidden Job Market"?

          In our last blog, we familiarized ourselves on the ways you can network, how you can prepare for it and even busted some myths surrounding it. The next step, as promised earlier, is to unveil the "Hidden Job Market" and find out how networking can help you tap into it successfully.

Did you know, over half the jobs out in the market are not advertised, included in placement drives or shown on company websites? They are opportunities that are virtually unknown, and subsequently, highly untapped and are part of what is known as "The Hidden Job Market".

The Hidden Job Market has existed for long and came into being quite by accident. Let me explain. Let's say I am a manager of a fast-growing online payments firm. One of my engineers, Aarti, walks into my office and quits her job. It might either be that she’s going to pursue her Masters, or is moving cities for personal reasons. Whatever the reason, I am obligated to wish her well and send her on her way. What awaits me? The immediate concern of needing to replace this person, right?

Now, what I and millions of other decision makers do to address this concern is see if we can either:
  • Manage without this headcount for a bit and temporarily shift some work to other engineers who are looking to do more. OR
  • If everyone is strapped on bandwidth, move or shuffle people from related departments and provide training to get them up to speed. See if we can make the most of Aarti’s remaining time (thanks to the required notice period) at the job and have her full support in transitioning to those replacing her.
Rather than take the tedious and many-a-times expensive route of creating a job description, posting the role on job boards and sifting through numerous resumes, managers literally ask colleagues and contacts around them “Do you know someone who can fill Aarti's position?”

What does this mean for you? There are several opportunities out there that might fit you well but are not part of the postings you see. Don’t stick to job boards alone, expand your horizons and explore the market. But how can you get to know about these opportunities? That’s where the now-familiar networking comes into play. 

Let's say some months ago you networked with a contact, sharing your interests (roles/industries/nature of position) and past skills gained. Turns out your interests and skills largely match Aarti’s role. Also turns out, your contact is part of my team!! Who do you think the contact will think of when the manager asks "Do you know someone who can fill this position?' – You’re in luck!

As you can see, making yourself visible to people through networking can help you land a job that you may have never known of otherwise, or even had a chance at. There are tons of people who move positions every day, and their roles are taken care of without even touching the open market. Managers and directors look to their staff to help fill these positions in many cases. And like it or not, it comes down to who knows who at the right place, at the right time. Companies prefer and even pay employees a referral bonus if their lead converts, to encourage referrals! There are several reasons companies opt for this method:
  • It is cheaper: It takes surprising amounts of resources and money to go through job boards, review, narrow down and select the right candidate.
  • It is quicker: Job boards require procedures and several rounds of interview to whet the person that’s not required when it’s a referral. Referrals are assumed to have a certain level of fit and competency thanks to the employee knowing the candidate.
  • It is less hassle i.e. you get a few good leads that are trusted vs. say 1000 applications which take time/effort to go through, it makes for a much simpler process.
  • The lead is trusted as it is a recommendation from an employee. Workplaces trust and believe employees know the company well enough to pre-asses a referral before recommending them for a position, effectively associating their own reputation with that of the candidate’s.

If I don’t get good recommendations from my colleague, I’d tap into the industry boards, councils, even friends & neighbors in search of a good candidate. And as you can see, if you and your work/career interests are known and like in these circles, you could be recommended by someone from the network of contacts and so it goes!

If nothing works & I still turn up empty, I’d consider putting out the word to websites/ recruitment agencies etc. This is not to say it's rare, in fact, more hiring managers and recruiters are using online boards and websites to look for talent, but referral and word of mouth it’s still largely considered the best and is the most prevalent method of finding the right, trusted candidate for roles in the “Hidden Job Market”.

Now that you know how things work within a company’s hiring process, you know better than to ignore networking.

Hope you enjoyed this read! In our next blog, we will look into how useful a tool LinkedIn can be! Stay tuned :)

“No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you've come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.” 
― Madonna

Manish N Gaba
(Pic Courtesy – Unsplash)

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