Debra Feldman

Be the Employer’s First Choice for Your Ideal Position

Here's how.

March 17, 2011
by Debra Feldman

Personal connections account for about 80 percent of new hires. In other words, employers seeking qualified personnel that match specific position requirements fill only one in five (20%) of jobs through advertising. Unfortunately, answering ads and submitting résumés are the most common job-search methods that result in disappointed applicants. Instead focus on unadvertised jobs accessed via networking purposefully can help avoid unproductive job-hunting and is a sure-fire way to gain an edge over your competition.

The unadvertised job market is by far the largest portion of today’s job market. This includes openings that bypass internal HR, external recruiters and do not appear on online job boards, classifieds, job fairs, trade-association listings or any other job posting platforms including corporate websites, industry forums, group discussions, social networking platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), e-lists, among others.

Where Are the Hidden Jobs? How Do You Find Them?

How can a hidden market even be a market, not to mention the most popular one? One-to-one private communication, old fashioned word-of-mouth, drive the hidden job market are methods used to connect employers with prospective employees. Only individuals with the right insider contacts have access to unadvertised job leads. This is a very competitive advantage over those who devote their job-search efforts completing applications or sharing their résumés in response to news of openings including those identified through a job listing or social-networking message.

The hidden job market consists of three sectors:

  • An existing open position that the employer has chosen not to — or has neglected to — announce publically. However, the situation is often known to company insiders such as employees, vendors, consultants, customers, advisors, consultants, past employees, as well as the hiring manager.
  • A position that is currently filled, but the incumbent plans to leave (leave of absence, relocation, retirement, resignation, etc.) or will be leaving to assume different responsibilities, at a specific date or when their replacement is identified. Timing is critically important here because the new hire must be known to the hiring authority and be available at the right time.
  • Jobs that are created just to facilitate hiring an individual. For example, firms sometimes create positions that don’t exist until a hiring manager connects with a new person who they feel would be a good fit for their department.

Why Is Focusing on the Hidden Job Market the Best Job Search Method?

Posted job descriptions outline job requirements from the employer’s perspective and represent their ideal candidate. However, the “perfect employee” may differ from this original candidate-concept. Only the hiring manager has the budgetary authority and can determine whether a particular individual is the right fit. For this reason, job seekers must connect directly with and present their interest and qualifications to the decision-maker. When the hiring authority appreciates and trusts you before they evaluate other candidates, you clearly have a competitive advantage. To access a job in the hidden job market impress the hiring decision-maker before they have formulated the job description so that you can help define and tailor a job based on your unique qualifications.

It is extremely rare for any single person to match every requirement listed for the desired candidate. What the employer wants is a new team member who will have a very short learning curve, is low-risk (meaning that they are unlikely to fail at the assigned tasks), fits into the corporate culture, comes highly recommended and has demonstrated the necessary skill and knowledge to perform the work. Employers look for new hires who are promotable, reliable and priced right.


In today’s job market, the available talent outnumbers open positions. Submitting a résumé or application for an open position usually results in a strict comparison between the résumé or application content and position requirements specified by the employer. Almost all prospects will be eliminated. The best solution is to pass this strict screening is to establishing a trusting relationship with hiring decision-makers and demonstrate that you can do the job with little downside risk to the employer. A one-on-one dialogue with the hiring authority is absolute necessity to get any offer.

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Debra Feldman is the JobWhiz™, a nationally-recognized expert who designs and personally implements swift, strategic and customized senior level executive job search campaigns, banishing barriers that prevent immediate success. Her gift for Networking Purposefully™ and expediting stalled job searches connects candidates directly to decision makers, not HR. Learn more about her groundbreaking techniques that compress job searches from months into weeks leveraging online visibility and maximizing traditional techniques.

All Rights Reserved Debra Feldman, 2011