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How to Look for Work in the Hidden Job Market

Updated: May 8

The Hidden Job Market

Are you tired of applying for job after job without any luck? Have you ever heard of the hidden job market? It's estimated that 60% to 70% of jobs are found through this market, and it's time to tap into it. The hidden job market refers to jobs that are not advertised on job boards or company websites. Instead, these jobs are filled through referrals, networking, and word of mouth. Employers have many reasons to prefer this method, including saving on advertising costs, getting a more well-rounded view of the candidate, and speeding up the recruitment process. In this article, we'll explore some ways to uncover these hidden jobs and land your dream position.

There are several reasons why employers preferred it:

  • It is cheaper than listing an advertisement - as they don’t have to pay for a slot on a website or newspaper

  • It can be less risky, as the ‘applicant’ may have been recommended by a member of staff. This gives the employers a rounder or safer view of the ‘applicant’.

  • It speeds up the recruitment process

  • It keeps the recruitment process quiet and so they don’t have to deal with multitudes of other 'applicants'.

  • There is a higher chance of getting a motivated skilled employee who has a direct interest in working for the company/sector

The major areas where jobs in the hidden job market can be found:

  1. Self-Employment / growing small-to-medium businesses

  2. Recruitment Agencies

  3. Internal sourcing or promotions

  4. Word of Mouth (e.g. someone works at the company and tells you about an upcoming job or through an online discussion group)

  5. Networking (social media/conferences / informational interviewing/ trade shows/ job fairs /recommendation from another employer/employee)

  6. Volunteering / Internship / Placements

Below are different methods that can be used. These are not in any particular order.

  1. Join job groups on Facebook (an example of ones that I have joined):

  • jobs in Belfast

  • jobs in Belfast and Northern Ireland

  • job hunting DCS - the one I manage for people in Carrickfergus, Ballymena, Belfast and Bangor areas

  • Mums at Work networking group

  • Join groups of interest or industry-related – social media marketing, holistic, IT, HR etc.

2. Sign up to Linked In (this is used a lot by employers and recruitment agencies)

  • Your profile is basically an online CV - this makes you visible to other professionals and recruiters

  • Once you have signed up to LinkedIn – make your profile available to employers.

  • To enable the feature, simply turn sharing “On” and fill in some brief information about the types of roles you are interested in.

  • Use a catchy headline – “Independent admin contractor experienced in the charity sector with high-quality administrative work in fast-paced work environments.”

  • Join professional or industry-related groups

  • Follow companies and connect with the people that work in them

  • Connect with people with similar professional interests

  • Always way use a personal request when contacting someone new on LinkedIn - explain why you would like to add them to your network.

  • Build your network to the 1st degree. Your connections can exponentially increase your exposure and access to other connections.

  • LinkedIn makes it easy to connect with people you know by importing your contact lists from sites such as Gmail.

  • Get recommendations from people that have worked with you.

  • Recommendations are like a testimonial to your work and skills that everyone can see.

3. Join good quality recruitment agencies

  • Find out where they advertise then bookmark these on your browser toolbar (NI:, are used a lot by good quality recruitment agencies)

  • I have saved a list of different recruitment providers (Belfast Area) and the sectors that they specialise in the 'file section ' Facebook group - Career Support 360. If you are unable to access it - I can email this to you - contact me at

  • Go online and read reviews about different recruitment agencies

  • Consider jobs that may be slightly outside your skill set and apply for these as well - it is all about making contact with the recruitment consultant. Often Recruitment Consultants can tell you about other positions that they have but have not yet been advertised.

  • A lot of jobs that come through agencies tend to be temporary. They can potentially lead to other positions within the same company – or should the person who you are temping for not returning back - you could end up being kept on in their role.

  • Make sure that you use a tailored CV for the sector that you are applying for.

  • You need to get into a routine of calling recruitment agencies once a week. Build up a rapport with one of the consultants. Let them know that you can be flexible with certain job roles and they might see that you are determined to get a job.

4. Use Google Maps or

  • Type in your address and see what local companies are near you. List their names and address and then do a search for them online. A lot of companies have a recruitment section on their website. Check this out.

  • Type a professional area into – such as marketing, human resources, journalism, or warehousing. See how many organisations come up. Create a list of 20 companies to contact.

5. Go Direct to the Employer

  • Research the company and look at their website

  • Don't send speculative applications to the HR manager or recruitment manager as you are unlikely to get a response. Take some time to research the company using Google or LinkedIn and try to identify the person within that organisation who might have a suitable vacancy; then send a speculative application letter and your CV to them by name.

  • You can also contact the receptionist at the company and state that you need to send a letter to the head of a specific department (that you are interested in) - "Hello. Could you please tell me the name of the person who manages the marketing department?"

  • If you are sending a CV directly to an employer – send it as a letter and not as an email. Emails get overlooked and can be easily deleted. Letters tend to get read and any accompanying documents (with your letter) will probably be left somewhere. Always state in your letter, if it is possible for your CV to be held on file, should a vacancy arise in the future.

  • A good cover letter should outline your particular interest in this company, how your skills or strengths relate to the position and your career ambitions.

  • The cover letter should include 5 key bullet points of what you have to offer that can make a difference to the company. Use your research on the company to show your understanding of its market and state why you want to work for that particular company.

  • If going in person, take several copies of your CV with an accompanying cover letter, look smart, ask relevant questions, and be polite, as ‘about the recruitment process’ – rather than just asking if there are any jobs available.

  • By asking about the recruitment process, it allows you to gather more information on how they recruit, allowing you to adapt.

  • You could also ask if it would be possible to visit the company and maybe have a chat or an informational interview with one of the managers. Sometimes companies will permit this. This can should your interest in the company.

  • If you are contacting them over the phone – write down a series of short questions that you want to ask them, be polite, speak clearly, record notes, ask about the recruitment process and share some of your own knowledge in this sector.

  • If possible - you could ask about volunteering or placement at the company.

  • Subscribe to their company’s news alerts. Often this will tell if the company is growing in a certain area – which may lead to the potential recruitment drive.

6. Other Types of Networking

  • Talk to family and friends

  • Contact ex-employers or ex-employees that you know

  • Use connections through professional associations

  • Set up an information interview

  • Contact Personal Advisers at Jobcentres – often businesses that are expanding in the local community will contact the jobcentre before they officially advertise.

  • Find out if there are any job search groups in your local area – job centres and some church, community and charity groups may offer these.

  • Professional Associations



Paula Donnan

Career Coach for families

For assistance with any of the information above, please e-mail me at

Donnan Coaching Services Smart Page Bio Link


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