The Secret Job Market

Just what is the secret job market?  No it isn’t some underground website or exclusive membership to a secretive recruiting service, it is the market where there are jobs that aren’t posted. Yes, there are positions that are available that aren’t posted on any website.  This occurs because:

  • someone hasn’t been told they are going to be fired
  • these are the roles that haven’t completely been approved yet by someone’s boss but will be shortly
  • these are the roles that were closed not because the company didn’t need someone, but because they could never find the right person.
  • there are roles that haven’t been externally posted yet (many companies post internally first)

It is the pent up demand for workers.  The higher you are in a company the more important it is that you are fishing in this pond for your next career move.


So how do you find out about them?  I recommend starting with people you know first.  Who do you know that:

  • you have helped in the past
  • works in the type of industry or company you want to work for
  • knows first hand your talents/strengths and work ethic
  • would get value from what you do
  • knows people in the industry or company you want to work for/with
  • has a job similar to the one you would like to have

Write ALL the names down (don’t cross ANY out).  Then review the list and prioritize them how many of the above characteristics they have – the more they have , then they would be prioritized higher.  You should have at least 10 people (better would be 20-25) that meet at least 2 of the above criteria.  If you don’t – please check out this article on building your network.

Once you have them prioritized, there maybe some people on there that you would be concerned about contacting.  Maybe they are a co-worker or your current boss.  So let’s point out the people that if they knew you were looking MAY jeopardize your current role and put them to the side (don’t cross them out yet).

Now lets look at the top 3-5 people on the list.  These are your first and best chances of getting the right opportunity.  The next step is personally speaking to them to assist you.  Here are a couple of tips:

  1.  Be transparent – don’t call and ask about their kids out of the blue and then drop the job issue on them.  It may sound something like this “I was thinking about you today because I am in the market for a new position.  Since you have worked with me in the past and know what I can do in marketing I thought you could know of a position or someone that would know of a marketing analytics position that would be a good fit.  Anything come to mind?”  You can also use this tactic “I am calling today because you know so many people in the organization and I am thinking about making a move into a larger role.  When I thought of who might know of some openings in the other departments, you came to mind.”
  2. Be specific but not overly picky.  Be sure to tell them the 2-3 things that are really important in your next role (not pay).  Something like this: “I am seeking a role where I am responsible for the marketing analytics and would be able to have input on decisions around future marketing strategies.  Working in a marketing agency or a team lead in a marketing department of a large company would be ideal.”  This allows your person to be able to communicate to their contacts what you would be good at and what types of opportunities would be a good fit.
  3. Do not talk about pay.  To most people pay is important – some ways to make sure that the opportunities people are recommending you for meet your income requirements is to specify level, title, or span of control.  If you tell people you want to be a senior software engineering job – you will get different opportunities then if you specify you want a programming job. You may also want to specify whether you want to lead a team, the volume of revenue you want to be responsible for, or maybe the area coverage.  These could sound like this “In the past I have been managing a sales team that produces $100M a year in revenues; I would like to be managing a sales organization around that size or larger”  It could also sound like this: “I am looking for a national level role where I would be responsible for a function across the country”.

If this uncomfortable for you to do; you aren’t alone.

Once you have called the top 3-5 people on your list and had this conversation, then you need to look at the remaining people on your list.  These are the individuals that I would move to in the next wave (10-15 days after your initial networking) especially if you are concerned with people finding out you are looking for a job.  If you aren’t – go ahead and contact them all personally.

If this is uncomfortable for you to do – you aren’t alone.  This isn’t something that comes naturally to many people or you may feel like you are asking too much from others.  If you need some individual coaching around this – feel free to reach out to me for a session!

-Stephanie Simmons A.C.C, Career Coach