Estimated reading time: 6 mins
There is a way to find a job – a great job – without ever reading a job ad or talking to a job agency.
The ‘Hidden Job Market’ – jobs that aren’t publicly advertised, but created for individuals – has existed for generations, but social media has taken it to new heights in recent years. This is where we use our connections and contacts to root out jobs that probably don’t even exist yet – they’re vacancies that are created for us.
Or, they’re vacancies that potential employers haven’t identified yet because they don’t know that recruiting you is a solution to their problem.
By ‘nurturing’ potential employers, or influencers of potential employers, we can find jobs that nobody else will ever know about it. Two gigs from my last four were found this way. I am going to show you what you need to know to do this yourself.
How we get access to potential employers with hidden jobs
This is why blogging and social media has opened up the Hidden Job Market, because we are now able to reach hundreds or thousands of potential employers, and with enough time, patience and grit, we will eventually get a bite. Thing is, it’s all about numbers. The greater number of connections we have (and the greater number of our connections connections) the wider the audience we can reach.
Being well connected is an obvious advantage, but this just gives us a head start. Everyone can use this approach. We need a plan.
Create a Contact Plan
Obviously, the more people we reach, the more chance we have of hitting the potential employer. So we have to contact as many people as possible using appropriate channels.
Thing is, we must address our contacts in different ways, depending on our degree of familiarity. We wouldn’t send our best friend a ‘Dear Sir’ email, nor would we send a loose contact an invite to our family BBQ.
It will be helpful to segment your contacts into 3 tiers:
- Tier 1: For some people – perhaps only a handful – you will have the most impact if you take the old-fashioned approach by picking up the phone and talking to them. These people are likely to be your closest allies, or long term friends. And for some people, this is the only way of reaching them.
- Tier 2: These are the folks you are less close to, but you know their names and have had personal contact with. For these people, personal emails are best. If you have a large contact list, you could even use a mail-merge, although personalization is less flexible this way
- Tier 3: For the rest – using a broadcast channel such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc will maximize your reach
We’ve got to press the buttons of potential employers. And there is no better way than to address a pain point…
- IT Managers are worried that ‘Cloud’ has caused data security hole. They could lose their job if they get it wrong, but they also don’t want to admit that don’t know how to solve the problem. If you’re a Cloud Security Expert, then you’ll want to be writing about this…
- Marketers have got to keep up to date with new technologies to put their clients brand before consumers’ eyes over existing and emerging channels. Many don’t really know how to keep up (but won’t admit this to clients). If you’re a Social Media Guru, then you’ll want to be writing about this…
- Customer Services Managers are constantly recruiting new staff due to high attrition, and need to find new ways to retain staff to avoid costly training expenses. If you’re a Staff Retention Expert, then you’ll want to be writing about this…
Get the picture? Agitate the problem, then present how and why you are the solution…
This is what great sales people do.
You need to know your stuff. You can’t wing this as you’ll soon be exposed. Leverage your strengths and your knowledge. You know what pains previous employers have suffered from… if you don’t then research it. Find the angle!
Create a Story
Your ‘story’ is your pitch. Start with a question (a rhetorical question) regarding your pain point, have some facts and stats about it (to back up your point), and a message about how you have solved that problem (oh, and it just so happens that you’re available for work right now.)
Your story should aim to achieve four things:
- Key message: to agitate a pain point or stimulate an opportunity
- To inform your contact that you are available for work
- To present a call to action – i.e. to contact you
- To encourage our audience to share our story with their own connections
Keep it light-hearted, personal and use your own words. Share your personality as much as you’re sharing a story.
You’ll need a different story for each tier from above:
- For Tier 1 contacts, you’ll be using a highly personalized story based on what you know about these people. Create an individual story for these people, and be prepared to listen as much or more than you talk yourself. And don’t be subtle about looking for work – be direct about this with this community of people
- For Tier 2 contacts, you’ll use a story that has a common basis but perhaps with a bit of tweaking to the individual (based on their industry, location, etc). You might use a a different story for each ‘segment’ of your contacts. Again don’t be subtle about looking for work.
- For Tier 3 contacts, you’ll use the same story (although I recommend you ‘split-test’ a couple and measure engagement to discover which worked best.) Be more subtle about looking for work, but only to ensure that the key message of your story comes through clearly. Your story is not to ‘sell’ you – but start a conversation and make it go viral.
This is the most important thing of all. Your follow-up has to be well executed:
- For Tier 1 contacts, follow up again in person. Referrals from these people should be followed up immediately and with the same level of attention and enthusiasm
- For Tier 2 contacts, send one or two follow-up emails. When you receive a response, respond immediately, be appreciative and take action, such as send over your resume
- For Tier 3 contacts, respond to comments or any other engagement as soon as you can, and invite respondents to engage further by visiting your LinkedIn profile, for example, or connecting with you
Your follow-up is your nurturing. You’re starting, or developing, a relationship based on a context (your story). It may take several touch-points to assess if their is a genuine employment opportunity, so don’t give up.
Every contact is a potential employer, or an influencer of a potential employer, so the more you invest in developing relationships, the greater the chance that you’ll be at the right place at the right time to be offered a great employment opportunity.
Eventually, somebody will discover you as the person they are looking for, because you understand their pain and know how to take it away.