To tap into the hidden job market, move beyond the traditional methods of job searching and incorporate new strategies. While these require more effort, hidden job search strategies can have very successful outcomes.
Informational interviewing involves directly contacting a professional in a field of interest or desired company and requesting time to ask questions regarding the industry or position. Gathering information through a personal contact is a highly effective means of gaining knowledge, becoming connected in your field, and developing confidence in approaching others.
When you arrange an informational interview, indicate a certain amount of time you wish to speak with the contact (30 minutes) and be mindful of their schedule and demands. Have a calendar ready to make suggestions of meeting times and always send confirmation of the appointment.
What to Ask
Ask questions you are genuinely curious about. This is your chance to get insight from an insider’s perspective. Your questions will drive the conversation so prepare as many as you can think of, but let the conversation flow naturally. It’s appropriate to take a few notes and to bring your resume for feedback.
Be sure to follow-up your conversation with a thank you note or email message. If the person volunteered to do something or make an introduction, you may gently remind them of their offer to help.
Networking is simply connecting with others on a professional, personal, or social level. This method can help you obtain advice about industries, how to find positions within your area of interest, and gain knowledge about particular employers. A majority of vacant positions are filled without employer advertising. Networking puts you into contact with people who can help you pursue job leads while improving your communication skills. If you have difficulty identifying possible contacts, seek help from a Career Specialist or Career Counselor at the MU Career Center.
You may develop leads from:
- Professional Organizations
- Alumni Chapters/Groups
- Past Employers Community Organizations
- Family/Friends Professors and Advisor
Pros & Cons
This is undoubtedly the most effective job-hunting strategy. In fact, most people use this method without even knowing it. It is how promotions and job changes happen within organizations and most people report that they hear about jobs or get referrals from friends and family.
It takes more time and energy to build and maintain your network of contacts. And sometimes your communication attempts go unanswered. If you have difficulty identifying possible contacts, seek help from a Career Specialist at the MU Career Center.
What to Say
Develop a brief introduction of who you are, your career interests, and how the contact can help you. This communication should be polite, concise, and appreciative. In addition, you should have some questions prepared to ask a contact if you meet them at an event or at an informational interview.
“Virtual” Networking is connecting electronically with others using social and career networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, as well as other tools such as online professional associations, alumni organizations, message boards, and blogs, (see Your Online Image).
When you are only networking virtually, it can be hard to convey tone in email so remember to keep correspondence professional, not casual. And be sure that your social media profiles are inviting and professional.
Directly Contacting Employers
This is a far more personalized version of sending your application to employers. This strategy entails you calling, emailing, or visiting employers in-person. One way of doing this would be using the yellow pages (or other directories) to find organizations that interest you and contacting those places regardless of whether or not you know they have an opening. Again, this is taking advantage of the fact that most jobs go unadvertised.
Examples of Direct Contact
- Log in on HireMizzouTigers.com, powered by Handshake, to search for companies
- Go to the career page or member directory of a Chamber of Commerce to browse a list of companies that are hiring
- Research well-regarded firms with the Better Business Bureau
This can be surprisingly effective because it is a proactive job search strategy. By taking initiative, you appear assertive and committed to the job search. Because this method is infrequently used by the average job seeker, you will likely stand out.