The hidden job market: how to access it

Hidden jobIt sometimes seems that there are not many jobs around. You look at job sites and can’t see anything that fits what you’re looking for. Recruitment agencies sometimes have opportunities, sometimes not. 

But there are jobs out there and always many more than you can easily see.

Many employers, especially smaller companies, prefer not to advertise their jobs. Advertising is expensive and time consuming, and they don't look forward to sorting through hundreds of CVs.

No surprise then that..

  • A high proportion of jobs are never advertised – they’re filled by people who contact the employer directly
  • If you can access a job before it’s advertised, there will be less competition
  • Personal recommendation by a 'respected person' greatly increases your chances of receiving a job offer.

And all the above points matter even more when you’re looking for part time or flexible work. Partly because part time jobs are in shorter supply than full-time. And partly because employers are more likely to consider a flexible arrangement for someone who comes via a recommendation, or who can help them avoid the cost of advertising.

But how do you access this hidden job market? There’s only one way….


You are probably skilled in networking already without realising it. Have you ever found a plumber by asking around for a recommendation of someone reliable? Or found a babysitter through a friend of a friend? 

The term ‘networking’ can put people off, but it’s not rocket science. It really just means getting in touch with people, and it's a simple and very effective way to find out about:

  • Different roles or careers and what they involve
  • Advice about how to break into a particular role or business sector
  • Information about specific companies and what they’re like as employers
  • Referrals to people who can help you further
  • Job opportunities 


Get into the habit of talking to people about the job you’re looking for. Be clear about what you want and ask them to let you know if they hear of anything. Start with your friends and familiar contacts, to get comfortable with how best to get the conversation started. Then create a potential contact list of:

  • Colleagues from previous jobs (find them again, on LinkedIn or Facebook)
  • People you meet every day (at a book club, the gym, through your children’s school)
  • Friends of friends, when you know second-hand of people in the right job sector
  • In time, you can find new contacts, for example by joining and contributing to professional groups on LinkedIn.


  • Look out for people you click with – they’re more likely to make an effort for you.
  • Make space for people you really need to connect with, for example those who are close to an employer you want to work for.
  • Keep your key contacts in touch with your progress. Have a note in your diary to keep in touch and remind them of your existence (but don't overdo it).
  • Networking is reciprocal – always thank people, and try to return the favour.
  • Persevere! Networking takes time to bring results, but sooner or later you'll be surprised by a call or email to let you know of an opportunity. 

Good luck. And remember – networking can be fun!

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