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The “Hidden” Job Market

The “Hidden” Job Market

By Matt Lowney


For years I’ve seen advertisements by companies offering to help jobseekers tap into the hidden job market. I’ve seen estimates that anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of jobs are never advertised.  So, what is this hidden job market and how do you find these unadvertised jobs?

While I think these estimates are a bit over inflated, many jobs aren’t advertised through traditional means like online job boards and newspaper classifieds. So why then would a company not advertise an opening? There are a few reasons. Mainly, they already have someone in mind for the position. Why go through the expense and time of interviewing other candidates? Another reason is that a company may not have an opening at all. However if they find out about a great candidate on the market, they will create a position for her. For example, a company may not have a need for a new salesperson, but if they find a competitors top salesperson is in interested in a change of employers, they’ll create a position for this person. To get these types of positions you need to network and be well known and respected in your industry. Senior level openings are often filled this way.


For most positions I prefer the term “less advertised” openings instead of “hidden”. Many smaller companies simply cannot afford to advertise their openings in traditional media like newspaper classifieds. As a result they will advertise their openings on their own websites, in less circulated print, or on local job boards. For entry-level positions these recruiting resources typically produce enough quality candidates. From an employer’s perspective, why spend extra money to recruit candidates when they don’t need to? If you are really looking to crank up your job search, you need to look on these local job boards as well as the big national job boards. How do you find out about small local companies that may be hiring? Your best bet is to contact your local Chamber of Commerce. Often they have a list of their membership online.


So if you are looking to find “hidden” jobs for entry to mid-level positions, there really aren’t that many. Companies have no reason not to advertise these positions to as many candidates as possible. This way they can be selective in the candidates they interview. As a candidate you need to cast your net out to as many targeted employers as possible and to network. You probably hear a lot about networking to find your next job and this advice definitely holds true.  You should make a point to attend formalized networking events, local trade groups, and make as many contacts as possible, even if they aren’t in your industry. You never know when your next contact will be the one that helps land you a great job.


Lastly, you should work with select staffing agencies. Often employers will utilize the services of a staffing agency to help facilitate the hiring process, especially in high volume hiring situations or times when they get an overwhelming number of applicants for a position. Most industries also have recruiters that work specifically in their industry. If you are a mid- to senior-level candidate, knowing an established industry specific recruiter can be very valuable. They are often aware that a position is opening up before internal employees.


Matt Lowney is a Nashville, Tenn based recruiter, career consultant, and co-host of Career Talk, a weekly one hour career advice radio talk show that airs from 5 to 6 pm each Friday on WAKM 950.  For more information he can be reached at