Where’s the Shovel, Where’s the Job
January 15, 2011 1 Comment
As I often think of things career-related, I thought about the Hidden Job Market (HJM) when my wife and I were shoveling our walkway. The problem I had was trying to locate another shovel whose location was only known by my wife. It’s under the snow pile, she told me.
Where exactly, I replied.
Under that huge pile, she pointed to a mountainous heap.
I first became interest in the HJM after reading Unlock the Hidden Job Market by Duncan Mathison. I speak often of the HJM when I lead workshops like Career Networking, LinkedIn, Job Search Letters, and whenever the urge hits me. The topic is appropriate in almost every workshop.
Similar to a jobseeker who wants to know where the jobs are, I want to know where the shovel is. My wife represents an employer—she’d love to hear this—or a knowledgeable contact, and knows exactly where the shovel is, or close to it. Fortunately I simply had to ask where the shovel was. In many cases the hunt for a job is not that easy for the typical jobseeker.
Let’s review the HJM. Most people know that 75-80% of the good jobs are hidden. (Some argue against this because they don’t believe in what they can’t see.) This means that 25-20% are advertised. One advertised job is often the one for which hundreds of jobseekers will apply, creating incredible competition and very little chance for success. Not to mention that some of these advertised jobs are “ghost jobs”; jobs that don’t exist or are filled internally before they appear on the Internet. However, for those who penetrate the HJM, there is no competition, save for employees who work at a company where the job exist. These folks have an advantage because most employers want to hire from within. This fact should not deter jobseekers, as sometimes there isn’t a fit between an employee and the employer for a particular position.
What is the solution to getting known by the employer? I see two obvious solutions to penetrating the HJM. The first one is good ole personal networking. Networking is another topic in itself. But the steps to take for jobseekers are:
1. Develop a list of companies for which they’d like to work.
2. Make contact with the appropriate person at these companies and send him/her an approach letter, or better yet put in a call, asking for an informational meeting.
3. Impress the contact so much that he/she is willing to recommend a jobseeker to a hiring manager. Duncan writes about how to impress a contact in one of his blogs.
The second way to penetrate the HJM is to let employers do the walking. Make your LinkedIn involvement as fruitful as possible by developing a kickass profile. (In fact, a weak profile will hurt your chances of being found out by employers who are looking for great talent.) The idea here is to prompt employers to contact you after they’ve read your profile.
There are two major benefits derived by the smart employer who is looking for awesome talent via LinkedIn.
1. They save the cost of a traditional hiring process; which can run into the thousands, including advertising on the job boards, potentially hiring a search agency to locate and filter candidates, the peoplepower it takes to review résumés and then interviewing candidates.
2. The second benefit is precluding the need to interview complete strangers. Instead an employer can initiate contact via phone or e-mail and engage a discussion with jobseekers. Jobseekers essentially become a known commodity before the employer decides to invite them in for an interview. Many of my customers who have interviewed strangers off the street say it’s a very stressful situation, namely because they have no idea what to expect.
The obvious benefit for jobseekers is that they become a known commodity and are in the loop. Jobseekers have more opportunity to speak with an employer than other jobseekers who engage in the rat race by applying for advertised positions.
My wife, mostly I, finished shoveling the walkway because she knew where the second shovel was. Had she not known, I would have had to shovel the walkway on my own. I suppose I could have found the shovel if I dug through a ton of snow, but I probably would have given up the search. I suppose that like a smart jobseeker (shovel-seeker in this case) I was wise to ask the one person who would know.