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Find out what is the hidden job market and how to access it

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Author: Roland Coombes

Roland Coombes is a veteran recruitment consultant, highly accomplished careers expert, and master resume writer with over 25 years of industry experience.

When asked, “What is meant by the hidden job market?” the simple answer is that the hidden job market refers to all of the job openings that aren’t advertised via traditional means. These jobs are being filled through internal movement, word-of-mouth, networking, and job seekers applying directly to a company.


In the dynamic landscape of job hunting, where traditional approaches might not be enough, the “hidden job market” can be an absolute gem. Learning how to reach out to new contacts, networking, and identifying job opportunities before they are advertised can open a whole new avenue that can propel a career. 

The Hidden Job Market - Example

What is the size of the hidden job market?

It is estimated that upwards of 60–80% of vacancies are never advertised publicly and form part of the hidden job market, making this a huge source of opportunity. The sheer number of jobs not being advertised highlights the importance of understanding and locating this invisible network to uncover opportunities.

60-80% of jobs filled are never advertised - The Hidden Job Market

A huge source of untapped opportunity

By understanding some of the strategies used to access the hidden job market, you can give yourself a much better chance to find your dream job and adjust your resume accordingly. In fact, clients that I see who are fiercely proactive in the market i.e. not just relying on jobs and active networking through friends and associates, talking to companies directly, building relationships with recruiters, etc., often land their dream roles, achieve salary pay rises, and are leap-frogging any competition.

Piggy backing from internal movements within a company

By listening out and tracking movements and developments with a company, you can quickly discover potential opportunities. For example, if there is an announcement on LinkedIn (or you hear through the grapevine) that Joe Blogs has achieved promotion and/or has moved to another company, there is likely to need to backfill this position. Therefore, there is a real chance for you to research and identify who their manager is (usually by LinkedIn) and approach this contact directly.   

Word-of-Mouth Jobs:

The power of word-of-mouth is undeniable. In the same way that you may ask friends or colleagues for a recommendation if you need a plumber, employers often look to their trusted circle before advertising jobs publicly. That means employers are asking internally if they know of anyone who may be suitable to fill a specific position.  The huge benefit of word-of-mouth jobs is that you can often bypass the entire recruitment process. It would be common to still attend an interview or meeting with a prospective employer, but personal recommendations are often trusted more than anything else, meaning you may not need to follow a conventional application process.

So how do you promote yourself through word-of-mouth?

You need to get over the stigma of letting friends and colleagues know you’re looking for work and instead be pro-active. You can do this in person or online. LinkedIn is a great place to advertise your availability by reaching out to connects and dropping a subtle hint, for example, “Hi ####, I hope all is going well. I see you are working at ABC Company. Interestingly, I’m on the lookout for a new role. If anything pops up at your company or in your network, please keep me in mind.

Next, make sure you tell friends, family and associates that you are looking for new opportunities. Clearly, you don’t want to sound desperate, but a few subtle hints go a long way. And the old saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, can be particularly relevant in this scenario.

Word of mouth for Job Seeking

Tapping into new contacts:

Keep on expanding your network through social channels (on and offline). The great thing about building your network is that you can target the industries you are keen on explore and explore opportunities with the people you’d like to work with. Building a network is a form of self-promotion, and you’re in the driver’s seat. Consider mutually beneficial relationships. Networking isn’t just about finding people who can do something for you, but rather finding mutually beneficial connections.  

Leverage existing contacts:

We’ve already touched on the importance of staying in touch with your existing network. You already know these people, so that’s half the battle already won. Start by initiating meaningful conversations with former colleagues, mentors, and acquaintances with personalised messages.


Even just reaching out to say hello is an excellent move. You don’t want to come across as desperate, nor should the conversation be all about you. Ask how their career is going, and keep any references to job hunting quite subtle. Just let them know you’re eager to explore opportunities without being too demanding or urgent.

Approach companies directly

In recruitment, we use the term cold calling loosely, but it refers to contacting a business directly to discuss any current or future job opportunities. It’s a strategy that recruiters use every day. And it’s also one that I would recommend you get comfortable with.

With LinkedIn, it’s easy. Simply identify your target contact list (employers and businesses), research a contact, and make a connection. You can then use tools such as LinkedIn’s InMail to initiate the approach. This can be as easy as “Hi there, I’m ####. I am reaching out to explore any potential opportunities you may have or might know  of.” Notice how we mentioned “might know of,” which is a perfect strategy to ask, “If not you, anyone else?”.

However, you don’t even need to ask new connections about employment right away, but it’s good to show interest in the company or the person’s work. From there, build a rapport, and it’s likely that the conversation will turn to your current employment status at some point without you pushing it. Don’t use copy-and-pasted introduction messages. Make your first message genuine, and take things from there.

Tip: You can use LinkedIn’s advanced search filters to find people in the right industry with shared connections, similar interests, and even particular job titles. Make your first message genuine, and take things from there.

The Hidden Job Market - Fig 1

Cold Calling

For the braver, you can use an old phone call. Again, you’ll need to identify the contact (otherwise reception will likely block the call) and then reach out by phone. Be prepared for plenty of knockbacks, but it’s worth it. If you don’t get through during the first call, then try again (call back). When you do get through, have a script prepared. There’s nothing worse than speaking to a contact and making a short talk (no one has time for that).

 Tip: You can use LinkedIn’s advanced search filters to find people in the right industry with shared connections, similar interests, and even particular job titles. Make your first message genuine, and take things from the

Explore the hidden job market with LinkedIn

Get noticed by recruiters:

Recruitment agencies in Australia also play a role in the hidden job market. They regularly reach out to businesses if they have exceptional candidates they want to market. Therefore, it will pay dividends to network with recruiters. Follow your recruitment contacts online, comment on their posts, and generally maintain a strong relationship that keeps you in the forefront of their minds when opportunities come up.

Get found by head-hunters (passive candidates):

Being head-hunted is not something reserved for just the elite. If you build your online profiles to position yourself as an industry expert or thought leader, you may just find that some great job opportunities come your way without looking too hard. Follow the people you’d like to work for, share and comment on their posts, and build connections. Share your own industry insights and news. It’s all about appearing valuable to employers, and it’s amazing how you can do this on LinkedIn. You can even ensure your profile has the ‘Open to Opportunities’ marker checked, which exposes you to more potential vacancies.

Connect with recruiters

Final thoughts…

Tapping into the hidden market takes time and effort, but it’s well worth it. Once you build your networking skills and learn how to “reach out” to others, you will be well on your way to uncovering a whole new land of opportunities.  Don’t forget to keep your resume up to date, as more likely than not, you’ll need to send your resume at short notice. If so, our Resume Writers are industry leaders.


Quick Tips For Hidden Job Market

Frequent Asked Questions

What is the hidden job market

When we talk about the hidden job market, we are refering to a network of unadvertised job openings within companies and industries, often not publicly listed on job boards, presenting unique opportunities for job seekers.

What percentage of the job market is hidden?

The hidden job market can comprise up to 60-80% of job opportunities never being advertised on mainstream job boards. This stat emphasises the importance of understanding and exploring this network.

How do I leverage my existing network?

Actively rebuild professional relationships by initiating meaningful connections with former colleagues, mentors, and acquaintances. We also recommend using automated tools such as LinkedIn connection builder.

How can I build an effective professional network?

You can expand your network through both online and offline channels by targeting relevant industries, engaging in industry-related discussions, and connecting with professionals. Networking takes dedication, not desperation.

Why are referrals crucial in the hidden job market?

Referrals are extreemly beneficial as they serve as a key entry point to the hidden job market. By asking friends or associates to keep an eye out for potential openings, you create new opportunities through existing connections.

How effective is cold calling in job search

Cold calling is all about reaching out directly to businesses or contacts. It remains a strategy for those willing to invest time. It also takes a bit of extra confidence 

How can I be found by headhunters as a passive candidate?

To be found by headhunters, I'd suggest you optimise your profiles with targeted information and industry-specific keywords. Actively engage in relevant forums, update your profiles regularly, and utilise LinkedIn's "Open to Opportunities" feature to signal your interest.