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Hidden Job Market Logo

The best jobs are never advertised.

Find out why and what to do about it.
How to network, research employers and create your own Hidden Job Market plan.

Step-by-Step Plan for Using the Internet to Go "Beyond the Want Ads"

  1. Focus on your selling points.
  2. Focus on one position and one target industry.
  3. Develop a custom list of targeted employers.
  4. Use your network.
  5. Make contact with the employer.
  6. Get help.

1. Focus on your selling points.

Why should an employer hire you? Be specific. And creative. The key is to know (or be able to imagine) what the employer needs. Your experience, research and networking will help you do this!

You'll need to know as much as you can about the tasks, skills, and experiences your new employer is looking for. You'll learn more about that in Steps 2-4. For now, focus on what YOU have to offer. As you learn more about employer needs, you will pick up the best ways to present your selling points.

Your selling points are based on your performance (proven track record), experience, and training as well as on your own preferences--What do you LIKE to do? What do you do WELL? What do you want to LEARN and keep on learning?

Make sure your resume spells out your selling points so the employer doesn't have to "read between the lines" or guess. [See JobStar's Resume Section to learn more about writing a good resume for your situation.]


2. Focus on one position and one target industry.

You're going to be tracking down employers who are the best match for your selling points. You MUST limit your search to develop a list of target employers.

As you work through Steps 3 and 4, you'll begin to see more possibilities. But don't get side-tracked. Make notes of other positions and target industries that interest you--you can begin the process again using THAT focus if you later decide to re-direct your search.

You must have a focus and stick to it to even begin a Hidden Job Market search.

Examples of POSITION and target industry focus.

These statements are related to the selling points in Step 1.

  • EVENTS COORDINATOR for a chamber of commerce in Los Angeles.

  • MECHANICAL ENGINEER at scientific instrumentation company specializing in mass-spectrometry or gas chromatography. Will consider smaller companies or start-ups. Relocation possible.

  • ONLINE RESEARCHER for law firm specializing in patents and trademarks.

  • RECEPTIONIST for insurance agency in Encino area. Some word processing (WordPerfect, Word for Windows), heavy phones okay. Part-time, no benefits required.

  • AUDITOR for health-related nonprofit organization in Marin County.

  • Lead breakfast COOK for high-volume restaurant in the Napa Valley.


3. Develop a Custom List of Targeted Employers

Begin by listing the employers you already know who match your focus: name, location, any other information. If your target statement matches a previous employer, add that firm's competitors to the list.

A. Develop a list of keywords describing the target industry:

  • Restaurants
  • Diners
  • Family Dining Establishments
  • Resorts
  • Retail Food Service
  • Truck Stops

B. Search for companies that match your focus.

Grow your list by learning more about your target industry

You may discover that your industry definition still needs more work or that you need to broaden your geographic requirements to produce a larger list of employers. No matter how long you have worked in a field, there will be new employer names to discover: start-ups, suppliers, allied businesses. Let's say our breakfast cook is stuck. He may want to investigate:
  • Airline food service production
  • Corporate food services
  • Hotel food services
  • College and university food services
  • Large catering companies
  • And the whole world of commercial baking, if he has interest/skills in that area.
To repeat: it is essential to "chase" one industry at a time so you can learn as much as you can and find smaller companies or companies that are not especially well-known. As you move from one related target industry to another, you may also find that employers are looking for different skills or selling points. Our cook's duties may vary with the setting: purchasing, supervising other operations, keeping accounts or assisting with presentations to potential clients may be required in one setting and not in another.

C. Select several companies to investigate in depth using JobStar's Company Research

You'll need to know as much as you can about the company, products, services, customers, competitors, technologies used and the challenges the company faces. Try to read between the lines to get a sense of the company's "style" or approach to its market. You'll be trying to answer two questions: Is this company a good fit for you? AND What are the employer's needs and how can I present myself to meet those needs?


4. Use Your Network.

5. Make contact with the employer.

Now that you've identified the employers who need YOU to solve their problems, get ready to make your first contact.

6. Get Help.

Using the Hidden Job Market is a LOT of work--and often requires skills that aren't part of your regular job (sales & marketing, research, public relations, project management.)

Job search support groups and Career Centers can help you work your plan with other motivated job seekers. Classes and workshops will help you get "grounded" and solve problems along the way.

To get personal help with your Hidden Job Market Search

Visit JobStar's Career Centers and make plans to attend a workshop or see a counselor.