Cracking the 'hidden job market'


July 01, 1991|By Joyce Lain Kennedy

Dear Joyce: After 17 years at the same job, my husband will work his last day next week. I want to help him look for a new job. Can you explain what is meant by the "hidden job market?" -- H.T.

Dear H.T.: It's commonly believed that 80 percent of jobs are filled without coming to public attention through advertising or employment services. True or not, a vast number of jobs never make it into the public spotlight. Networking, also called the referral chain, is one trail to "hidden market" jobs; another is bird-dogging leads by inference reading of newspapers and trade publications. Here's how.

1. Circle all stories that contain job hints and follow up promptly with a letter or telephone call to the appropriate manager. Read with an eye toward changing circumstances.

2. Old recruitment ads for managers and executives. New honchos usually want to put their imprint on the tasks they oversee -- the "new broom" syndrome. After a brief time, most know which employees they want to replace. But they usually tread lightly at first, taking from several months to a year to replace personnel with their own selections. Read the larger display ads that are older than three months for this kind of precision canvassing.

3. Promotions, transfers and retirements. Although many companies have instituted hiring freezes, leaving vacant positions unfilled, an internal shift of titles and responsibilities often means that somewhere in the organization a vacant position will be filled from the outside. If you can't figure out which hiring manager to call, check with the human resources department to determine at what level the company is recruiting.

4. Company expansion. When you see that an organization is adding products or services, beat the crowd and apply.

5. Company relocation. Even a move across town may not appeal to some employees who refuse to be uprooted.

6. Change of company ownership. When sales, mergers or takeovers occur, some people are fired, but others may be hired. Often the new hires are young and work cheap, or are veterans who have specialized experience missing in the new structure.

Before you begin, make it easy to keep track of your calls by establishing a job leads file.

Use index cards listing company name, telephone and address, interview date, postition title, lead source, name and title of interviewer and a few lines for results and comments.

Bird-dogging publications works best when you're not under pressure to find a job yesterday.

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