We’ve all seen the same statistic that approximately 80% of jobs are unadvertised. Some refer to this as the hidden job market.  Alternatively, we’ve also seen the statistic that approximately 80% of employers advertise job opportunities online either through their own website, a mainstream job board or a niche industry site. So, while those two statistics refer to separate measurements, they are somewhat intertwined and intriguing.


I frequently encounter content directed at the job seeking population. Which of course we all know is full of an endless supply of meaningless drivel and inaccurate depictions of how hiring typically works. One of common themes I’ve noticed is the recommendation for job seekers to pursue the hidden job market. As if navigating the non-hidden job market isn’t complicated enough, savvy job seekers are expected to play hide and seek or peek-a-boo-I-see-you to get a job instead!


With very few exceptions, practically all open positions at any of the places I’ve worked were posted online (or before that functionality existed, in print) in some way shape or form. Obviously, there were cases of discreet direct sourcing due to necessity for confidentiality in complex or sensitive cases, but those instances tended to be few and far between. Even if an external third party was engaged to fill an opening, it wasn’t necessarily kept a secret unless it pertained to that type of issue.  That’s one of the reasons these statistics amuse me…


There are abundant articles in industry publications describing all of the various methods, tools, techniques, applications and technology that several companies are using to do the exact opposite of hiding their jobs. In fact, rather than rely solely on their hiring managers, HR or recruiters to find prospects, they are experimenting with ways to incentivize existing employees to spread the word about their employment opportunities.  


Meanwhile, I’ve seen advice targeting job seekers suggesting they should ditch their traditional resume, spend minimal, if any, time reviewing online job ads, and simply focus on finagling their way into those 80% of hidden jobs. The belief seems to be that recruiters will block and ignore and HR will go out of its way to avoid hiring qualified candidates. So the only logical option is to circumvent established protocol, disregard available information and seek out something either non-existent or invisible to the naked eye. The concept makes me imagine phrase “fish where the fish are” being replaced with “fish where you don’t see any fish or any fishermen, but think your bait is good enough to catch something.” 

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Comment by Mitch Sullivan on June 3, 2013 at 5:35am

I understand and agree with you Kelly, to a point.

I think part of the problem may be that a lot of these jobs are advertised multiple times over by recruitment agencies with little knowledge of the job and even less commitment from the hiring companies to consider anything other than the mythical "ideal candidate" from them.

It's possible that what this job-seeking advice is trying to do, is encourage candidates to bypass the sometimes numerous agencies all trying to represent the same company by engaging with the hiring manager, if only to save that hiring manager a fee.


Comment by Amy Ala Miller on June 3, 2013 at 3:48pm

“fish where the fish are” being replaced with “fish where you don’t see any fish or any fishermen, but think your bait is good enough to catch something.” <---- THIS!

That says it all KB. They think their bait is so stinking special that they'll create opportunities out of thin air. I've been on the corporate side for a while now and I promise you if we are hiring for a position, it is posted.

Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on June 4, 2013 at 7:02pm

Thanks for the comments, Mitch and Amy. 

I remembered seeing the following article recently. It provides examples of how certain companies are going beyond posting online to expand visibility of their job opportunities in other ways including this excerpt: 

"Each week, Ms. Boulanger hosts Talent Tuesday, in which Opower employees bring their laptops and, fueled by free pizza and blaring iTunes, comb through their personal LinkedIn networks for friends and former colleagues matching Opower openings. If a referral ends up being hired, the referring employee receives $1,000. Of the 165 jobs the company listed last year, only one was filled using an outside recruiting firm — and that was an executive level search."


~KB @TalentTalks 


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