Want to know a secret?

Mon, 30/04/2012 - 19:04 -- nick

Richmond Solutions' excellent article on the hidden jobs market tells you all you need to know about this difficult area. The only secret they see is that every jobseeker has to make themselves as visible as possible, through working online (such as LinkedIn profiles, facebook and others) and networking, to make sure that those who might have a job to offer can see you and contact you. It isn't entirely fair to dismiss the idea of the hidden jobs market totally; plenty of jobs are never advertised, and some people recruit friends rather than the best person for the job. However, the more contacts you have and the easier it is to get to information about you the more likely you are to be able to access as many jobs as possible

'Let's knock this one for dead right now.
I got rather upset a few weeks ago when a client offered me a lot of money to show her how to access "the hidden jobs market". I was upset for two reasons. Firstly, she clearly felt the reason for her continuing underemployment was the existence of some sort of conspiracy which she was not yet privy to. The second was that she felt that I knew all about it and wasn't telling her, and needed to be bought to do so.
Just because you can't see something it does not mean it is hidden. There is only one secret and I'll tell you it at the end of this article.
For starters, the basics: the overwhelming majority of jobs out there are filled in the following ways:
1)      Through internal promotion.
2)      After a campaign open to external candidates, in which they have at least some chance.
3)      Because someone has been "talent spotted" and an opening has been created for them in an organisation so they can work their magic.
4)      Cronyism. Appointing friends, relatives, lovers, campaign donors and so on for no better reason than they are friends, relatives, lovers, etc….
People who panic about the "hidden" nature of much of the jobs market are normally fixated by statistics claiming that a very high percentage of appointments are never advertised. This is true. They are not. But they are not hidden. Let me explain.
Jobs that are filled through internal promotion are barely part of the jobs market in any real sense. Moving someone up or even sideways in an organisation is a perfectly natural way of filling a vacancy and extremely common. I suspect that if any of these statistics about the "hidden" jobs market come from anywhere other than fiction they are reflecting this reality.
We'll skip lightly over cronyism. It only accounts for a small percentage of hires in most developed economies. If you've benefitted from it you probably think I'm being pejorative. You may not even recognise that you got a job through it. I've seen it in a few companies and it never ended well. Anyway, if you are currently benefitting from it you are probably not reading this article.
Roles created for someone who has a certain skill set are not particularly rare. I've benefitted from this twice in my career. They are not particularly "hidden" either. In my own case they came about because I was introduced to an organisation by a mutual contact who thought we would be good for each other. This was really just one part networking to one part luck. The bit you can control is the networking.
Then you have external competitions. Just because it is not advertised does not mean it is hidden. Organisations fill roles without advertising them all the time. Asking around, running an employee referral scheme, recruiting by direct approaches through LinkedIn, Executive Search (which I was in for a decade) and other methods all have their place.
Occasionally I am prone to utopian visions of a more rationally ordered society where such ways of recruitment are as old fashioned as a dial up telephone. It'll never happen. These unadvertised methods are often cheap, quick, hassle free and/or flattering to a certain kind of candidate. However, they are hardly hidden. In the great majority of these campaigns the prospective employer is looking for a great candidate and trying to find one. So why don't you get called?
And that's the only secret that needs to be shared. It's not the job that is hidden. It's you.
I hate to say it because I know so many of you don't want to hear it, but networking on and off line is a very important way of maximising your chances of being hired. A good LinkedIn profile is increasingly important. LinkedIn claims that 150 million people are now on their giant and very public database, for that is what LinkedIn is. I have no idea if that figure is accurate. But it is increasingly obvious that the vast bulk of the professional and managerial classes of the western world are putting themselves onto the system and competing professionally, locally and internationally for attention. It's increasingly important not to have a LinkedIn profile which stops you being found.If you want to know how good your Linkedin profile is, just ask me.
So there is no conspiracy, just a sometimes unwelcome lesson. Network. Sorry. There is no magic bullet here, no more than there is a universally successful CV format. 
David Welsh
Richmond Solutions