The ‘Hidden Job Market’

The ‘Hidden Job Market’

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

Having the right talent in the right roles is critical for an organisation’s ability to grow and succeed. It therefore comes as no surprise that despite current economic circumstances, over 70% of leaders in a recent executive survey cited ‘Availability of key talent/skills’ as one of their top concerns. As any senior leader who has had to make hiring decisions themselves will know, there are often challenges when finding and securing talent in key positions, and the process can be stressful and drawn out for the job seekers themselves.

Many executives will put most of their effort into traditional or outdated thinking when embarking on a career transition, which includes searching executive job boards, applying through company websites or contacting recruitment firms. Many roles, however, are filled and even created through a ‘hidden job market’, where opportunities are never publicly advertised. Pre-pandemic, it was highly publicised that 70% of all jobs are not published openly on jobs sites and as many as 80% of jobs are filled through personal and professional connections. We also know that there are plenty of job openings that pose challenges, resulting in these opportunities never being publicised for a variety of reasons such as:

  • Companies often have sensitive roles or succession plans that demand discretion. Therefore, they prefer to tap into their internal network or rely on trusted referrals.
  • Advertising jobs publicly can be expensive, and organisations may attempt to first map internal talent pools and external referrals.
  • Hiring through referrals and networking often results in higher-quality candidates, as these professionals come recommended by trusted sources.


The Power of the Hidden Market

While traditional hiring methods have their place, understanding and harnessing the hidden job market by growing and developing trusted networks can prove to be a game-changer for those looking for a career transition. Individuals who do not invest time and effort into tapping into this area risk missing valuable opportunities and limiting their chances of shaping and securing their next opportunity. Here are some of the reasons to embrace searching for a senior role by navigating the market in this way:

  • Network-endorsed career paths: Leadership positions come with high expectations and the inherent responsibility of delivering the organisation’s goals, which are often confidential in nature. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to have trustworthy, capable, and effective executives in these key positions. In pursuit of the right fit for these high-stake roles, we see trusted networks taking over the selection process. The emphasis shifts from the volume of applications to the quality of candidates. Businesses, cognisant of the pitfalls of sifting through an avalanche of ill-suited applications, are increasingly veering toward networks that come with built-in credentials. By capitalising on these webbed connections—composed of trusted industry peers, mentors, and confidants—businesses gain access to a pool of candidates whose capabilities are not just self-proclaimed but validated through real-world endorsements and recommendations.
  • Higher-quality roles: Making a career transition through the hidden market increases the likelihood of securing a role that aligns to your strengths, capabilities, and personal career goals and can also offer more substantial responsibility and rewards. Equally, if you are being referred for jobs by those who know you and your work well, they are more likely to put you forward for positions that you would excel in. A strong fit increases the probability of success in that role and helps to improve one’s own career satisfaction.
  • Minimised competition: Today’s jobs market is crowded. Gaining traction, increasing visibility, and securing valuable meetings is becoming more challenging. With businesses erring on the side of fiscal caution and scaling back their recruitment efforts, there have been fewer available desirable roles in the market and a high volume of qualified candidates vying for them. Because of its exclusivity, the hidden market is less competitive. Candidates are handpicked based on more holistic criteria rather than pulled from a pile of similarly-qualified CVs. Instead of seeking out roles and applying the traditional way, utilising the hidden market enables you to state your career and role objectives and attract opportunities to you instead of having it the other way around.

Remember, the information shared on job boards and career pages are only a fraction of the full picture. To maximise your chances of securing the best fit senior-level role, you are better served by leveraging your existing networks whilst also building extended networks designed to your future direction. Forging strong connections, making a name for yourself, and being more strategic will produce considerably superior discussions and opportunities than the simple act of application.

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