Hidden job market holds the mother lode of job opportunities.
In addition to the hidden job market, consider this: Did you know that Baby boomers are getting jobs with better pay, status, and working conditions than prior generations of older workers?
According to the Wall Street Journal – “Five Myths About Landing a Good Job Later in Life (30 November 2016) – recent studies are demolishing many of the negative stereotypes about workers over 50, for example:
- The 55-and-older crowd is now the only age group with a rising labor-force participation rate, despite age discrimination, which remains a problem.
- About 40% of people who retire take a break and then return to work, typically within two years.
- Since 1995, the number of people age 65 or older working full time has more than tripled.
This WSJ article – chock full of statistics and research – should, at the very least, conjure a smile from anybody approaching 50. We’re not doomed after all!
Question: How do these older codgers connect with jobs? Hidden Job Market!
Unfortunately, the WSJ article does not address this question, namely, “How do you find work after age 50?”
- Job boards?No! Hardly anybody in the 50+ group will find a job via job boards such as Monster, Indeed, or LinkedIn. Nada. Zilch. Highly unlikely.
- Recruiters?Maybe, maybe not. This strategy, used alone, robs you of any control of your job search. Recruiters do not work for you; they work for the companies that hire them.
- Personal connections?Yes! Personal connections are your best bet, especially if you’ve built a robust, long-term network in a silo such as banking or healthcare.
- Hidden job market?Yes! Even without a strong network, you can achieve success in the “hidden” job market, which holds the mother lode of career opportunities.
What is the hidden job market (HJM)?
The hidden job market consists of (1) all jobs that change hands without being advertised and (2) jobs that are advertised but given to insiders. In a minute, In a minute, I will show you an 8-step process that will transform you into an insider.
- Good news: In the HJM – unlike job boards such as LinkedIn and Monster – you need not be a perfect match to win the job. Age and college degree are negotiable.
- Great advice: Lou Adler, author of several books on HJM and related topics, says “job seekers should spend 80% of their time looking for keys that open the back doors of target companies.”
- More great advice: Don Asher, another well-known expert in HJM, says, “You get a job by talking to people. You get a job because you got in front of somebody, and that person decided to put you on the payroll.”
- Mix and match: You can cherry-pick elements of HJM and combine those elements with other search strategies, for example: HJM (70%), job boards (10%), and calls to recruiters (70%).
- Consulting option: Consulting follows the same process as an HJM search. If you’ve been unemployed for a long time, your best option might be to “hang your shingle” and find consulting gigs.
Introduction to the hidden-market job search
Since 2007, I’ve helped over 1500 people with all the various aspects of hidden-market searches, resumes, personal branding, search plans, goal setting, interview coaching – you name it. After 1500 projects, I’ve seen what works and what does not.
- You can do this: Do not be intimidated by the nine steps. You can do this if you are highly motivated and possess a marketable skill.
- Don’t give up: An HJM search requires extra time, patience, and effort, but don’t give up, because HJM holds the mother lode of opportunities. The worst alternative is long-term unemployment, which surely happens when you waste too much time with job boards (for example, uploading your resume to black holes).
Don’t be intimidated by the nine steps – hire a coach if you get stuck!
If you’re not sure about any or the nine steps, hire a hire a coach to walk you through. After the coach guides you through one or two searches, you’ll be confident enough to go solo, initiate your own searches, and take charge of your career.
My nine-step checklist for searching the hidden job market
|1||Marketing brand||What problem can you solve exceptionally well? What are you known for? People hire specialists, not “jacks of all trades,” so you must build your reputation around one talent.
Maybe you can do many things well but – for purposes of an HJM search – you must present yourself as a specialist.
|2||Job target (“FIT”)||You must decide your function, industry, and title (FIT), for example: your function and industry might be “IT project management in healthcare sector” and your target title might be “Project Manager” or “PMO Director.”
Do not confuse “job openings” – listings that appear on job boards – with “FIT,” which describes a type of job.
|Do Step 1 and Step two seem a little bit simplistic? Pay close attention to them!
In my experience, most people cannot nail down their marketing brand and FIT – they “think” they know, but they answer my brand-and-fit questions by babbling.
If you cannot figure your marketing brand and career goal, just hire a coach and let an outsider objectively assess your situation.
|3||Search plan||Define your geographic boundary, for example, city or state. Even if you do all your work online, start your search as close to home as possible, because meeting people face-to-face will be easier.|
|4||Company research||Define your basic criteria: company size, revenue, product, and number of employees.
Use an online directory – such as D&B or Hoovers – to compile a list of target companies within your geographic boundary.
Next, start your detective work: Google your target companies to discover news, competitors, problems, and opportunities – you’ll weave this info into an email (Step 7).
|5||People research||Here’s where you become your own recruiter. Build a list names, emails, and phone numbers of your target companies.
Search Google and LinkedIn for basic contact info and – if those don’t work – try one of the online, fee-based resources. Ideally, build and maintain a steady reservoir of 100 contacts.
|As a “rule of thumb,” search for company managers who are two levels above your job target (FIT).
Resource: “www.data.com” provides hard-to-find names, titles, emails, and phone numbers.
|6||Draft a butt-kicking resume||This is your “personal advertisement” – several notches more intense than an ordinary, corporate-drone resume.
For a hidden-market search, your resume must work much harder than – you must make an immediate and positive impact.
|Example: Here is a resume headline for a sales executive who specializes in affiliate sales for software companies
“How to double your sales and pay your sales force for free.” How can any hiring manager not want to interview this person? If you don’t know how to write that type of resume, hire a coach to help you.
|7||Draft a “sales-letter”||Based on your company research (Step 4), show why your target company should hire you. Show how you will boost sales, save time, save money, beat a competitor, or accelerate a process.||If you don’t know how to write a “sales letter” email, then hire a coach (or a commercial writer) to help you.|
|8||Contact your prospects||At this point you possess a contact list, a high-impact resume, and a sales-letter (email). Now you are ready to engage your first contact, so send an email and follow-up with a phone call.
In Step 8, we enter the sales domain. You can do it! Are you willing to contact strangers and pitch yourself? Just focus on the upside. If you’ve worked as a salesperson or a consultant, this step will come naturally.
|If you’ve never had to sell anything, then hire somebody to coach you.|
|9||Voicemail scripts||Busy people don’t want to be bothered by you, but they do listen to their voicemail.
In Step 5, you obtained your contact’s phone number so – after you send the sales email – start leaving voicemail messages.
Persist without being obnoxious. Follow a schedule and vary the content of your messages.
|Eventually, I promise, you will break through. So be ready when the prospect eventually answers the phone.
One time – after several voicemails – my prospect surprised me by answering his phone! I was so shocked, I bungled the call – mentally, I had planned to leave another voicemail.
Additional benefits of searching the hidden job market
Jump in the HJM pool and test the waters, which might feel chilly at first, but you will adjust. When I visited my distant relatives in Ireland, they told me, “there are no strangers – only friends we haven’t met yet.”
After completing an HJM search, you will acquire basic survival skills for the modern economy. I predict you’ll experience surging pride, confidence, and personal liberation.
You will never fear unemployment again, because now you know how to take charge of your career and act as your own recruiter. Meanwhile, I wish you the very best of good luck in your career and your search!