Advantage Career Solutions
Richard Phillips, Career Counselor and Coach

Finding The Real Job Market

Someone once asked me what I considered to be the number one myth that job hunters believe to be true, but isn’t. My reply was “They believe there is a job market.”


A market is a place where sellers and buyers can meet to exchange something of value for something else of value. As Richard Nelson Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute? pointed out over twenty years ago, the "job market" is largely an idea and not something that actually exists. Certainly, if other markets were organized (or disorganized) the way the job market is, none of us would be able to find food, clothing, or any of the other basics of life. If you consider work to be one of the basics of life, then it is no surprise that work can often be so hard to find.


There are approximately 15 million employers in the United States and in total, these organizations provide millions of jobs. Obviously, there is no place where all of the jobs available from these 15 million organizations are listed. And even if there was a job "market" available, employers might not use it unless compelled by government regulations. Even then, they would probably find a way around the regulations.


Why? Because when employers announce that they want to hire a worker, through a listing on a job board, for example, they risk being flooded with resumes, many of which, if not all, are from unqualified applicants. Sorting through this mass of resumes takes time away from other tasks which are probably in need of urgent attention because the enterprise is understaffed, hence the need to hire. It is a vicious circle and employers do what they can to avoid it, particularly during recessionary times when there are many people looking for work.


Estimates vary, but a safe guess is that only 20% of all available jobs are advertised visibly in some form such as online postings or classified print advertising. The career and job search literature often labels this 20% the "visible" job market. This leaves 80% of jobs that are not advertised or are advertised in limited ways that require special access. Examples of limited access include the company’s internal job postings, subscription job sites and professional association job boards. This 80% is often labeled the "hidden" job market. But the very fact that it is hidden makes it not function very effectively as a market.


Fortunately, it is possible to find and access that 80% of jobs that are hidden. Here’s how.


1.  Define your ideal role and setting

First, you need a clear definition of the work role and setting that meets your criteria for satisfaction and that utilizes your skills and experience. You may already be very clear about what you are looking for, or you may need to do some assessment and research to clarify your role and setting target.


2.  Focus on setting rather than role

Next, instead of concentrating your efforts on looking for a job role, focus on looking for an employment setting. For example, in identifying your ideal work role you decide that you want to use your in-depth knowledge of left-handed gizmo tooling in the role of Director of Gizmos. In defining your ideal work setting, you know that you want to remain in the San Francisco Bay Area. Further, you would prefer working for a mid-sized company with rapid growth prospects because you like being in that kind of dynamic environment.


3.  Create an employer “Short List”

Given these criteria, your job search just became much more focused. Your next move is to find all the mid-sized, rapidly growing left-handed gizmo manufacturers in the Bay Area. Finding these employers is an infinitely easier task than finding a job because while 80% of jobs are potentially hidden, close to 100% of viable employers are clearly visible to anyone with rudimentary internet search skills.


4.  Check for visible jobs

Once you have created your “short list” of potential employers, you then need to determine if any of them have posted a suitable job in the visible job market. Probably the easiest way to do this is to check the company website “Careers” section.   You may get lucky and find a listing you can apply to. If so, move as quickly as you can. Many jobs don’t get listed on company sites until late in the process because the hiring manager may have already looked for and be interviewing qualified candidates found using other methods.


5.  Access the hidden job market

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find a listing on the company site or a job board. Many hiring managers will first use other methods to try and find qualified candidates. These methods include:

      • Asking current employees and colleagues for recommendations.
      • Posting the job on the internal “employees only” website.
      • Posting the job on membership sites run by professional associations.
      • Hiring a search firm to find candidates.

Gaining access to these sources of job leads can be a challenge, of course.   However, some basic strategies will help, including:

      • Asking network contacts for introductions, advice and help.
      • Finding a current employee who will check the internal job listings for you.
      • Listing companies of interest on your LinkedIn profile.
      • Having a strong LinkedIn profile that will interest search firms.
      • Making “cold contacts” directly with your targeted companies.


By following this process, you will enhance your job search effectiveness enormously because you will be covering both the visible and hidden job “markets.” Hopefully, you will come close to covering 100% of the possible openings. And maybe, you will be the first to know about an opening that’s just right for you and so have the hiring manager’s attention all to yourself!

I offer a free 30 minute telephone session to help you get started toward solving your career challenges - such as getting what you really want. The session is an opportunity for you to talk with a professional counselor and coach about what you want from your career or job and to get some initial feedback on what some solutions might be. It is also gives you the chance to experience my counseling style to see if I'm someone you'd like to have help you.

Interested? Just click Getting Started to get some details of what to expect and how to prepare.