The Invisible Job Market

Are you having trouble finding a job that appeals to you? If you read the help wanted ads in the newspaper every day but can’t seem to find anything that appeals to you, don’t despair! Newspapers charge exorbitant amounts of money and rarely turn up very many leads, which is why you only see a fraction of the available jobs in them.  You need to look in the invisible job market for these unlisted jobs.

Most companies out there use the following strategy to find new hires

  1. Do nothing. That’s right, most companies don’t actively recruit for non-critical positions. It’s not uncommon for an “empty” position to go unfilled for many weeks or months.
    • This is especially true at larger companies where a few empty cubicles won’t adversely impact the company. As our economy continues to slump, we are going to see a lot of companies adopt this attitude to recruiting.
    • While some companies will simply stop hiring as they tighten their belts, others will take a receptive, but less proactive approach to finding new employees. That means that they probably won’t advertise heavily, but if the right person comes along they would be happy to take a look at what you have to offer.
  2. Recruit from within. A lot of positions are filled from within companies. It’s very typical for companies to post ads internally. While a lot of these will be filled by employees moving from one position to another, many of them will be filled by acquaintances of employees. This is where where networking comes in handy. You should let your friends and family know that you’re looking for a job, and ask them to keep an eye out for anything that you might be interested in. The focus of this article is not on networking; while it can be very effective, you shouldn’t depend on it so much as use it passively in your job hunt.
  3. Post a few job ads on the Internet. Small companies especially will start small in their forays into advertising their empty positions. It’s expensive! Putting an ad on most of the high traffic websites costs several hundred dollars for a single position. Since it typically takes weeks or even months for the right employee to come along, this can translate into several thousands of dollars just to fill one position. Newspaper advertisements are typically even more expensive.
  4. Hire somebody now. The previous steps can take days or months, but eventually they realize they’re not going to fill the position without making a serious effort; now they will step up their campaign. This may mean more spending on newspaper or online advertisements, or even hiring a recruiter. When they get to this point they’re typically very eager to fill the position. They’re either unwilling or unable to wait any longer to fill the position.

You may be asking, “If this is the way it works, why do employers waste so much time? Why not just accept that it’s going to cost a lot to find somebody, and fill the position immediately?”

As it turns out, this is the most cost-effective strategy. The reason is that a lot of jobs get filled without significant spending on advertising or recruiters, so it makes sense to wait a while before resorting to these methods. While networking is responsible for a lot of the filled positions in the “invisible job market,” a lot of the new hires are complete strangers. They literally walked in off the street and asked for a job.

The big misconception is that companies will let everybody know when they are hiring. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Most medium and large sized companies are always hiring. They may not be actively looking, but if the right candidate showed up at any time they would be very happy to make a job offer. Even with low turnover, companies with hundreds of employees almost always have one or two empty positions.

Don’t be timid. If you would love to work at a certain company, send them a cover letter and resume now. Even if they aren’t interested in hiring at this moment, they won’t just forget you. Human resources departments always like to keep a pool of potential candidates on hand in the event that the business decides it needs to fill a position quickly.

Taking advantage of the invisible job market has advantages over the traditional job market

  1. Less competition. If you apply months before they planned to advertise the position, you may get the job without having to compete against anybody else.
  2. More pay. By coming to the company before it spent a lot of money on advertising, they may be in a position to offer you more. Once they’ve spent several thousands of dollars and weeks of HR time cultivating and interviewing applicants, the company may feel like you’ve already cost them a bundle.

When it comes down to it, the fact is you need a job.  You need to put food on the table and a new 48″ plasma TV with hi-def and all kinds of other features you couldn’t possibly live without.  So instead of reading this website or casually browsing the help wanted ads on the ‘net and in the newspaper, you should be hitting the street and finding the job you deserve.  It’s already out there on the invisible job market; it’s yours for the taking… you just have to ask for it.

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