How to get a hidden job

I’m sure that if you’re anything like me you regularly receive those LinkedIn update emails which proclaim that yet another of your contacts has landed a great new job? A job that interested you, and would have applied for if only you'd known it existed?

It's not surprising that the jobs they are landing are those you didn't know about – “hidden” or unadvertised jobs are where you find the best opportunities. What exactly are “hidden” jobs? We see it several times a year. These “hidden” jobs are those that only come into being when the right candidate presents himself. 

From the outside that might seem like an odd method of recruiting. We all know how the recruitment process goes. Employee resigns, the hiring manager calls up the recruiter and then the job is posted internally and externally. The only problem with this is that you're competing with numerous other candidates for each one of these jobs. And furthermore, you're trying to change your CV to fit the specified qualifications, regardless of whether those qualities are what the company really needs.

When a company has an opportunity to restructure and can bring in people and or can promote or have a way to replace a resource, they are happy to hear about a candidate in advance. This might be because they’re from a competitor or they bring some specific industry skills with them. There can also be a situation when there is no vacancy now, but the MD knows there will be one in the future. The company might not have signed off an advertising budget or it might not be available for 6 months, or don't want a thousand applicants and prefer to find talent through referrals. These are the hidden jobs.

And it’s this that’s the difference between finding a job that you can do and landing a job that was made for you. Have you ever been on an interview where it was clear that they already had a candidate in mind and that candidate wasn't you? That's because the candidate was presented to the recruiting manager and the job description was written around this person's qualifications. It's a losing game for everyone else. (They interview you because the company has policies requiring it, even though it's a thoughtless waste of time for everyone involved.)

If you want to be in that market, then you have to get people to know you and know your expertise. This is why networking is so critical. It's not about just keeping up with old colleagues, it's about taking the time and making the effort to always be job hunting by making new targeted contacts. Who are these connections? Individuals who have the ability to recruit you, appreciate your expertise and importantly, will remember you, contact you and recommend you to their connections. It's not just what you know or even who you know, but who knows, likes, and trusts you and will share job leads with you.

If you are well-connected in business or on LinkedIn, your contacts are like your "career insurance." Instead of having to establish new connections, you will have a jump-start as a trusted contact and be among the first to learn about potential leads from insiders before you need or want a new job.

I’m sure that you’re making contacts at the office, at conferences, with customers and with suppliers, so there’s an opportunity for your name to come up when managers are still in the "thinking about making some changes" stage of the recruitment process.

You essentially have to market yourself to someone who has no vacancies with the knowledge that a vacancy can open in the future. If you wait until you're unemployed, contacts are harder to come by and don't stop seeking out those hidden jobs once you land one. Networking and building relationships take time. Years, even. You cannot expect a company to direct your career. Gone are the days where you could land a job at 22 and stay there until retirement.

The only person who is truly looking out for your career is you