How Executives Can Approach the Hidden Job Market

JohnOConnorBlogging, Individual Services

The US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics in Oct 2010:

“Regional and state unemployment rates were little changed in October. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia recorded unemployment rate decreases, 14 states registered rate increases, and 17 states had no rate change, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia posted unemployment rate decreases from a year earlier, 16 states reported increases, and 5 states had no change. The national jobless rate was unchanged in October at 9.6 percent but was down from 10.1 percent a year earlier.”


Phil, one of our executive clients said this: “I am looking for a new position but there is no way I want my company knowing that I am looking.” It’s a refrain we hear a lot. It’s nice to have a good paying, executive level position as unemployment numbers barely edge forward but the fact is many people who have jobs and well-payed executives are looking.

Looking for a new position can be dicey and jeopardize your current employment. Like Phil, the majority of people looking to make a move don’t want to tip off their employer that they are looking: “There is no way I can freely network on Linked In and with industry recruiters very comfortably. But I want to make a change in the next six months to a year. What do I do?” 

So what do you do if you are looking now and you are running a confidential search? Here are three ideas to consider. A good way to run a confidential search is to start tapping into the job market and job search marketing techniques quietly, confidentially and with a little less exposure. So what might you consider doing now to start this process with a little less anxiety?



1. Develop a Quiet Linked In and Online Communications Strategy. Depending upon your industry you should not necessarily start showing high activity on Linked In and in your professional networks. Develop a clear cut plan to become more active by slowing adding contacts, joining groups and networking through associations. Integrate these habits into your weekly routine and try to tie it into your current position. But often clients like Phil need a networking plan and search strategy that’s more stealthy, carefully planned and, to some extent, quiet. Any “loud” moves or aggressive networking can tip off your network that something has changed. They may assume you are looking. 


2. Imagine the Job You Want with The Company You Want. If you would take a time to write a brief job advertisement or job description at one of your ideal target companies you have a strong start. Start to create a “fantasy” list of target companies. Why will this fantasy work possibly help you? Jobs open up like chapters of a book. In the first chapter, almost all employers look for top talent and have their eyes open for top talent. Next, employers often begin to formulate an idea of what they need to drive revenue or reduce costs. Usually that means the employer, internally, notices a need to look for talent. The employer will often try to fill the position internally. Lastly the key hiring managers and the employer will think about externally advertising for this position. As you quietly network your “ideal” job description can become a map to guide you through your quietly effective networking.


3. Carefully Research and Prepare. Start reading industry association e-lists, create a research portfolio and develop a sense of what kind of talent your target companies want. Begin to orient your potential Resume, Achievement Portfolio, Writing Samples, and References toward your target companies. Why should someone like Phil do this before a position is clearly defined? A job seeker like Phil should use his imagination to power his search. Look at the culture, attitude and “feel” that the new target companies seem to have. Find out the buzz from employees, former employees, industry writers and more. What is it really like to work for these companies or organizations? Does this fit with what Phil wants?

By preparing for the hidden job market in this way Phil holds a clear advantage over his competition. “Developing a plan,” says Phil today, “and finding out about the culture, attitude, buzz and insider information on target companies means more to me than anything right now. I have faith in my skill set but I want to quietly find a new position.” He realizes that this may give him a clear, early advantage over his competition. “I want to be known by my target companies before they know they need me. Then I will be ready to pounce.”