They say that up to 80% of jobs are filled without being advertised. I think this is a bit of an excessive estimation, but even if the real truth was half of this, that’s still a LOT of jobs that you’re not getting access to through traditional methods.

In this episode I am sharing what the hidden job market is and how you can access it. I’ve got a few tips about how you can maximise your network to get connected to the people you want to be mixing with, and how you can find out about upcoming opportunities.

Links I mentioned in this episode:

18. The Hidden Job Market – Transcript

[00:00:00] Hi, there I’m Bec McFarland the host of the Pop Your Career Podcast. As a career coach, I’m most passionate about helping my clients to discover their own personal flavour of career fulfillment. In this podcast, we are going to be exploring ways that you too can feel more fulfilled by your work. So strap yourself in, get ready for the ride. The tips around here are fast and in abundance.

[00:00:29] Hello hello, it is Bec McFarland here helping you do better and be better in your career. And today I’m here to talk to you about the hidden job market. This is one of my favorite topics to talk about. I mean, I know I say that a lot. I say that about a lot of topics, but I really do love the hidden job market.

[00:00:55] And in fact, When I first went full time in Pop Your Career and gave my [00:01:00] day job the flick, and I started doing in person workshops, the hidden job market was actually the first in person workshop that I ran, and it was just so much fun.

[00:01:11] Uh, There were so many awkward things. I remember I booked this venue that, you know, when I arrived it was just a little bit dodgy and I remember a group of people coming along to the workshop and that, like some of the attendees knew each other from work and that happens all the time, right? Like I live in Canberra, in Australia. It’s like a big small town, like it’s the capital of Australia. But for those of you who know, like, you know that it’s got some real small town vibes, and like everyone knows everyone. So it always happens that, you know, people will rock up and then we’ll realize they’re connected and stuff.

[00:01:57] But at my first in person [00:02:00] workshop, I just remember thinking, Oh my God, like this is just so awkward, and how am I going to do this? But the workshop, I can tell you like it was a big success. Everyone loved it. Everyone loved the workbook that came along with it. And since then I’ve delivered that workshop in lots of different ways. I have incorporated the information into one to one coaching, and now here I am telling you about it today, which is very, very cool.

[00:02:28] So what do I mean when I talk about the hidden job market? Well, there are lots of claims about this on the internet, right? When we talk about the hidden job market, we’re talking about the way that jobs are filled without being advertised. So what this means is that some organizations will have a role available and they will manage to fill it just through their networks or through other means that don’t involve them [00:03:00] advertising it or opening it up to the public.

[00:03:02] Now, as I said, there are lots of claims out there on the internet, and some of them make me giggle, right? I have seen a couple of websites claim that up to 80% of jobs are filled without being advertised. Now, I think that 80% is probably a little bit excessive. Okay. That seems like an awful lot, but of course, because of the fact that these jobs aren’t advertised, there’s actually no way to measure this and to have a real result.

[00:03:35] So what I often say to clients is, ‘Yeah, look, I think 80% is probably a little bit of a stretch. I think somebody was telling a little bit of a porky pie when they came up with that figure’. But even if the actual result was like half of that, which might be conservative, that still 40% of jobs that could potentially be being filled [00:04:00] without popping up on one of those job platforms like Seek or Indeed or any of the others that are out there.

[00:04:07] That to me, is crazy and it really makes me think that if you are in the job market and you are looking for the next step in your career, relying on job boards and relying on job advertisements is really a very reactive way of doing it, and there are loads of things that you can do to be more proactive about accessing those jobs that are in the hidden job market.

[00:04:35] So one of the things is making sure that your personal brand is snatched. And of course I spoke about that in the last episode, so if you didn’t listen to that, I would love for you to go back, have a listen, check in with yourself about your own personal brand, and think about how you can be a little bit more intentional about that.

[00:04:55] So a lot of my clients, when they come to me, we establish [00:05:00] that their personal brand is just something that’s kind of happened to them, they haven’t necessarily taken the steps to really curate their personal brand or think about what kind of brand they’re actually communicating out there to the world and to potential employers.

[00:05:18] So it is definitely worthwhile. Jump back, have a listen to that episode, and then consider your personal brand when you are looking to access these unadvertised jobs.

[00:05:29] Next up, I always think about your resume, of course, and the way that you are actually selling yourself. Now, this is a little bit of an extension of your personal brand, but it’s really thinking about the story that goes along with the skills and the experience that you have. Now, you might be wondering what I mean about the story, but in reality, selling yourself into job opportunities is really an exercise in storytelling. We want to give the future [00:06:00] employer an understanding of what you’ve done in your career, of the skills that you have developed, of the experiences that you have obtained, of potentially the qualifications that you might have achieved, the wins that you’ve had along the way, and how all of those things would form a value proposition for a potential employer and what you are going to bring to the table.

[00:06:26] When you get to that point where you’re ready to start applying for jobs or seeking jobs through other means, you want to make sure that your resume is up to date that it’s looking schmick and that it sells you in the way that you want to be perceived. So we did talk about this a little bit when we talked about the motivated skills or transferable skills in an earlier episode.

[00:06:49] Definitely encourage you to check that out as well because we want to make sure that you are selling the skills that you actually want to be using in your future roles. Now your resume is not the [00:07:00] only thing that you want to make sure is up to date. I would always recommend that LinkedIn is a great place for you to start building connections.

[00:07:09] And of course we’ve talked about this on an earlier episode too. So I will link that in the show notes for you so that you can go back and have a little bit of a listen.

[00:07:19] Now let’s talk about these strategies to access the hidden job market. We have had some discussions in earlier episodes about informational interviews, and I’ve shared with you that this is a really common thing to happen overseas, particularly in the United States, and it’s something that I don’t think happens enough here in Australia.

[00:07:38] But it does give you the opportunity to meet with different people in different organizations, to be able to ask pointed questions of the right people to make sure that you can find out what it is that you need to know. And of course, that could be questions that you’ve got about specific roles about specific teams, managers, the organization as a whole, their culture [00:08:00] values, so on and so forth. This also gives you a chance to ask about upcoming recruitment processes, trends, and even potentially asking for referrals or introductions.

[00:08:11] Now we’ve talked about LinkedIn networking and the way that you can build relationships online, but I am also a really huge advocate of joining local networking groups, particularly industry specific networking groups where you can get along and meet people who are influential within the industry that you work in.

[00:08:30] So I would check in and see like how often are you actually attending these networking events? Are you doing it at all? If you are, are you attending the right events? Are you following up with people after you attend those events to build the relationships, which can also really build your confidence, which of course is very helpful when you are looking for your next role.

[00:08:52] Online groups can be another way that you can go about doing some of this networking. This could be through Facebook groups or LinkedIn [00:09:00] groups or other groups that are out there on the internet that allow you to rub shoulders with people that are in the industry that you want to work in, that work in the types of roles that you are applying for, or who may be able to give you a leg up or introduction when it comes to meeting the right people.

[00:09:18] go out there and start sending teabags to people. I think that quite weird. I also think it’s weird to do the whole like clueless thing and spray your resume with your perfume. Don’t do that. That is, that is really, really strange. But introductory letters and emails can be a really great way to reach out to people and introduce yourself to them, noting that people are busy, they don’t have time to read, like really long emails and really long, so don’t write War and peace.

[00:09:51] But people are also much more likely to respond if you lead with value. So rather than writing to someone and asking them for something, [00:10:00] it is always worthwhile, you actually leading and perhaps offering something to them in return. And that could be an interesting article or an idea or something that you’ve come across in your travels that might be interesting to them, and it might just help to make them look upon your cold introduction a little bit more positively.

[00:10:20] Working with recruitment agencies is absolutely something that I want to talk about in a future episode in more detail. But I do think that aligning yourself with some really good recruitment agencies can definitely help you to get ahead and become aware of some of those jobs that aren’t being advertised.

[00:10:38] So check in and see if you are registered with any recruitment agencies, but remember that the focus is really on relationship building. So as someone who comes from a background in recruitment, what I can tell you is that look, recruiters don’t necessarily have the greatest reputation. You only have to type ‘recruiters [00:11:00] are…’ into Google, and you’ll see some really choice words that come up.

[00:11:05] Now, what I will tell you is that the recruitment industry, although it doesn’t have the greatest reputation there are a lot of really amazing recruitment consultants out there who are very, very genuine and who are looking at helping people to find their dream roles and their dream careers.

[00:11:26] What I will say though is that they are often very busy. They are often working towards very stringent key performance indicators and also targets, which really means that a lot of the time they are seeing dollar signs when they see an ideal candidate and they are more likely to help the candidates who have got a better chance of getting a role.

[00:11:50] Now, what I suggest to people is if you are going to go down the path of building relationships with recruitment agencies or with specific recruitment consultants, the best way to do that is by [00:12:00] making sure that all of the work is done in advance. So what I mean by that is making sure that your resume is looking really schmick, that you are ready to interview, that you know how to present yourself professionally.

[00:12:13] Because if you are relying on a recruiter to be able to give you feedback on those things and support you through that journey, then I’m afraid that most of the time you’re going to be disappointed. So this is a shout out for career coaches out there and also for resume writers. If you do need some support with that, then I would suggest approaching a career coach or a resume writer to support you would be a really great investment for you and a really great way of making sure that you do have all of your ducks in a row so that you are super appealing when it comes to those recruitment consultants.

[00:12:49] This episode is brought to you by the Career Clarity Quest, my absolutely free, seven day program, which is designed to support you in getting [00:13:00] so much clearer about your next steps. Find it at

[00:13:09] Another way of accessing the hidden job market is through general employment registers, and there are so many myths about this getting around. I encounter it all the time. I’m always saying to people like, Have you registered for any of the Australian Public Service general employment registers? And people always say to me, ‘Oh, my friend said that, that’s rubbish. And my friend said that they don’t ever get used.’

[00:13:34] Now, you may know I was in the Australian Public Service for a while and I used those general employment registers all the time to fill vacancies within my team and also to support hiring managers across the whole organization. Now, sure, there are some agencies that definitely use them more than others, and applying for a general employment register never guarantees you of receiving any kind of call back.[00:14:00]

[00:14:00] But you know what will guarantee you to not receive a call? Not applying for the damn register, right? When you are looking for opportunities and when you are interested in opportunities within the Australian public service or the public service within your country, particularly if you’re interested in roles within specific agencies in the public service, then you are far better throwing your hat in the ring, making sure that your details are everywhere that they need to be in order to be seen by hiring managers, rather than sitting around telling yourself these stories like it’s a waste of time and it’s never going to work.

[00:14:35] Honestly, most of these general employment registers don’t require you to do a selection criteria response or anything like that. Usually it’s a pretty quick form and a resume upload, and your resume will already be up to date, right? Because you’ve already taken the time and made the investment to do that, so you might as well spend the extra 10 or 15 minutes, complete the form, upload your resume [00:15:00] and make sure that your information is on those registers, just in case future opportunities become available.

[00:15:09] Social media is another thing. I’ve already mentioned LinkedIn, but it’s amazing how many people I see who are getting roles through like Facebook community groups and stuff like that. Of course, these could be like local groups here in Canberra. We’ve got like the Canberra Notice board group and things like that, and I have seen many times, people putting posts in there saying like, ‘I’m looking for a role and I’m having trouble. These are my skills. Does anyone know of anything available?’ And so frequently people are jumping in and tagging companies that they know that are recruiting or giving them information about leads for roles or arranging times to catch up on the phone. All of these things.

[00:15:51] But I’ve also seen it work really well within industry specific groups. So I’m a member of a group run by the [00:16:00] Digital Picnic, which is an online marketing agency, and they have a group for all of the alumni of all of their online education programs that they’ve run over the years.

[00:16:11] And as a member of that group, we can put posts into the Facebook group, you know, communicate with each other, collaborate and I have seen lots of people advertise jobs in that group and other groups like that, and then find their ideal employees. To be honest, I have actually personally hired people for my own business that way as well.

[00:16:34] So it is always worthwhile just keeping an ear to the ground and potentially looking at some of those groups and how you might be able to get your name out there.

[00:16:45] Now, of course I could go on all day in providing you with loads of different ideas about how you can access the hidden job market, but we don’t have all day. So some other ideas that I want to give you are, focusing [00:17:00] on the way that you share your expertise. So developing yourself as a thought leader in your industry, and then seeing what opportunities come through that.

[00:17:08] So this could include maybe writing articles, responding to Source Bottle requests, building a personal website or other ways of sharing your expertise so that you are seen as an expert in your field, which could make you more employable and get you noticed by the people that count.

[00:17:26] Other things like setting news online alerts. So you can set Google alerts for the names of organizations that you are particularly interested in, and this will help you to stay on top of the news. It’ll give you ideas if they have won work or they get investors or there are things that are going on that might lead to them recruiting gives you a little bit of a heads up about what’s going on.

[00:17:50] Professional associations always great as well because they do connect you with other industry professionals and help you to not only connect with [00:18:00] people who are in the circles that you want to be in, but they also usually offer other benefits as well, which could be things like professional development, which again, help you to learn and to embed yourself as a member of that industry and get noticed by the people in power.

[00:18:16] So I hope that the tips that I’ve shared with you in today’s episode are helpful and that it’s given you a little bit of an idea, a little bit of food for thought about how you might like to put together an action plan to access the hidden job market. I would love to hear from you about which of these tips resonated, which things you are going to give a try, so make sure that you hit me up over on social media and let me know. And of course, if you have any success stories with the tips that I’ve provided, I definitely want to hear all about it. Have an amazing week, and I’ll see you next week here on the podcast.

[00:18:50] Thanks so much for listening to the Pop Your Career podcast. I hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s tips and that you found value in what [00:19:00] I’ve shared with you. If you like your career advice quick and entertaining, I would love for you to subscribe. Also leave me a rating and a review. If you want to continue the conversation, come and join me over on social media. You can find me everywhere at Pop Your Career. I’ll see you soon.


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About the author 


Bec McFarland is an experienced HR practitioner, manager, career coach and the creator of Pop Your Career. She delights in sharing practical, straight to the point career advice, spending time with her family and eating Mexican food.