Increasing Your Chances in the Hidden Job Market

Increasing Your Chances in the Hidden Job Market

Filter tag: Change Management and Executive Outplacement, Leadership Capability, Strategies for Growth

The value of searching for a senior-level role through the hidden job market could not possibly be overstated, but how do you get started?  Many senior executives will have built up their network through the years but may not be sure how to utilise their connections for this purpose. Others may not know how to structure their approach.

Having the right strategy can make or break a career transition aimed at securing a new, more enriching role. We’ve put together five practical tips to increase your chances of success in the hidden market:

  1. Build a strong digital personal brand: With so much of modern networking and today’s job search taking place through virtual touchpoints, you will want to ensure your social media profile stands out. Your contacts will reference your LinkedIn to get a clearer grasp on what it is that you do and have to offer, and this will likely be the first place they refer potential employers to visit to learn more about you. Ensure the information presented adequately represents how you want to be perceived and communicates what you can bring to the table. Anyone visiting your profile should be able to draw a conclusion about your ability to navigate potential market challenges and add value to an organisation. If you are trying to draw in opportunities from beyond your immediate network, you will need to ensure your profile contains appropriate keywords for your career transition objectives. Take the time to craft a strong headline, write a compelling About section, and update your experience section. For the latter, beyond just ensuring all your work experience is up to date, highlight your accomplishments and measurable impact and align these items to the opportunities you are seeking. Understand that in today’s market, your profile is often seen before your CV and it is therefore important you are making the strongest possible impression.
  2. Get others to be advocates for you: Of course, one of the key advantages of tapping into your network for support with your career transition is having designated advocates vouching for you in the marketplace. Be selective about who you turn to for this, and what the narrative they present on your behalf will be. Make sure the contacts you’re tapping for this understand what you can bring to others so they can accurately tell your story. By enlisting the support of trusted peers, you can reap the benefits of opportunities being created for you while you progress your other networking activities or continue to juggle ongoing work-related commitments. Your trustworthiness can also be further enhanced as recommendations from others can be better received than self-promotion. Your reputation is one of the most valuable assets you have and can bring stability during turbulent times. Nurture it with care.
  3. Build a strong and diverse network before you need to use it: Just like building friendships, establishing a strong network doesn’t happen overnight. Dedicate time to growing your network before you need it, as your network is an investment that pays compound interest over time. The longer people have a chance to know you, learn what you are about, and see what you are capable of, the more credible you become. Become an active presence in your industry. Keep up to date with industry trends and news through the national press, professional journals, and professional/trade association websites. Make time to attend relevant events, conferences, and seminars to establish meaningful connections. Engage with professionals and leaders from other industries and build relationships that can later yield valuable prospects beyond your immediate scope. We naturally gravitate toward people who are like us, yet this tendency can create tunnel vision and undermine the value of our network. Top-performing executives have diverse but very select networks of relationships from different spheres and across the corporate hierarchy. Having diversity in your network helps keep both your mind and your options open.
  4. Master the art of effective communication: Networking is not a transactional activity, nor should it be treated as such. If you want to gain from your network, you should be giving as well. You are looking for your network to provide valuable insights and referrals, but you should be willing to do the same. If you are treating your network as just a numbers game, expect your efforts not to be as fruitful. When it comes to building an effective and valuable network, it’s key to enjoy interacting with people and to have fun along the way. Offer help before you ask for it. Engage in meaningful conversations, share knowledge, and help others where possible. That way, you are forging more authentic connections. Personal recommendations and referrals from valued contacts can open doors to those hidden opportunities you are after.
  5. Target your outreach: This process is much more strategic than simply casting a net and hoping your contacts can help you reel in the right role. The key to succeeding in the hidden market is to have a compelling value proposition aimed at a clear set of targets and objectives that you are looking to meet. Identify a few organisations you know you can add value to and take a proactive approach to connect with key decision-makers within those companies. Research the company’s strategic goals, challenges, and leadership team. Reach out to senior executives directly through personalised messages, LinkedIn Groups, or at networking events. Demonstrating a genuine interest in their organisation and highlighting your unique value proposition can lead to discussions about unadvertised executive roles or opportunities that don’t yet exist. It’s a win for both parties, as you can secure the exact type of opportunity you desire while your potential employer may have just found the right talent without having to go through a long search campaign.

Accessing the hidden job market at the executive level requires a combination of strategic networking, professional branding, and targeted campaigning. Building and nurturing a strong network, utilising social media, seeking referrals, and engaging with relevant associations and companies are key actions that can help you uncover exclusive executive-level opportunities that you would have never known about otherwise. Embrace a proactive approach, stay persistent, and demonstrate your value as an executive leader.

People who know and trust you are vital to building your career, and power plays are a corporate reality, so take steps to actively build your network. Ensure the door swings both ways though, and that you are not taking advantage. Remember that people will remember how you made them feel, and how you showed up for them when they needed your support. Leave people with the right impression of you to ensure that when the time comes, they tell the right story on your behalf.

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