Posts Tagged 'hidden job market'

How to rethink the job search process

If highly successful marketing and sales people are mapping their selling process to their prospects buying process, shouldn’t job seekers map their search process to a company’s hiring process?

Obviously a buyer’s journey will be different for different types of purchases.  That said, it is possible to broadly categorize buyers activities that will lead to purchase.  Look at the graphic below.  Most purchases follow this pathway.  For maximum effectiveness,  marketing and sales  professionals try to re-engineer their efforts to match the buyer’s journey.

buyers journey





Do the same principles apply to getting hired?  Can a job seeker, leverage their efforts for greater success by mapping the Hirer’s Journey?

When corporate management considers the need for a new position, there is a clear decision process framework.

There is:

  • recognition of a need,
  • a discussion on how to solve for the need,
  • a commitment to an approach,
  • a justification and then
  • the release of an actual job requisition (usually to a public website)

As a job candidate, most people wait for the process to reach the last stage or “the job to be listed”.  The challenge here is the competition for the job just multiplied exponentially.  By the time a job is listed on a public website like LinkedIn or Career Builder, the hiring company will most likely receive between 500 and 5000 applications.

Clearly the process will vary slightly for a small nimble organization versus a Fortune 1000 firm, but the job seekers dilemma remains the same.

So how does a job seeker improve their likelihood of success?  More conversations!  However, they must be conversations that matter!

These conversations can be and should be, with a wide variety of people.  They should focus on the business problems that folks are facing.  The conversations should be relevant to both parties, but specific on three levels for maximum impact.   Be sure to talk and listen about 1) their industry, 2) their companies issues and 3) the persons specific role.  The conversation must be relevant to the person you are networking with and not just about you and your need for a job.

You should discuss the potential impact of a better future state. The conversations should include a specific example as to how the job seeker may have solved a related challenge earlier in their career.  The example does not need to be exact, but it does need to be easily understood, easy to relate to and relevant.   If a job seeker can plant conversation seeds like this across a wide swath of business contacts, they will uncover hidden job opportunities.  By inserting themselves into the equivalent of the DISCOVERY & CONSIDERATION phase of the buyer journey, the possibilities of landing a great career opportunity increase exponentially.

Avoid the resume bake off and insert yourself earlier in the hiring process.



Alternative Career Opportunities


Traditional job openings are still scarce relative to the number of candidates seeking positions.  Career Brander is focused on helping you better position yourself for the limited number of job openings, while also helping you target hidden job opportunities.

Thinking about the continuing difficult job market, we decided to bring our readership some background on an alternative career opportunity that many folks are not familiar with.  That is “contract employment” as a career choice.  Over the past 20 years this industry has grown from just over a billion dollars, to $10 billion dollar a year industry.

To help our readership better understand this industry, we reached out to Patrick Cox, the CEO of The Professional Alternative. The Professional Alternative is a Mid-Atlantic and Northeast United States based firm that specializes in providing 6-12 month (and occasionally multi-year engagements) for technology oriented individuals.

First, can you tell our readership the concept behind contract work? What exactly is it?

Contract consulting is rapidly becoming a career choice among Professionals not only the blue collar work force. It is only since the mid 90’s that an hourly contractor been considered employed. When this statistic was tracked, it dropped unemployment by close to half a percent if not more. For Professionals, contract or temporary employment provides a vehicle to find exciting opportunities and learn new skills without the politics of being a full time employee. You are paid for the hours you work and you go home. Contractors focus on the job and are extremely productive. For Companies it provides a vehicle to rapidly complete projects without having a layoff when the projects wind down.

How big is the industry?  What are the predicted macro-economic trends for “contract work”?

Current estimates of IT contract labor are somewhere in 8 to 10 billion dollar range in annual spending.  IT  Consulting (my Industry) is larger than the entire trucking Industry in terms of revenue. Based on the slow recovery, companies are not hiring due to unreliable growth signals in terms of tax policy. They are hiring temporary workers for critical projects, work has to get done and IT helps productivity. The last 20 years have shown temp hiring to be a leading indicator of a recovery.

Is this just a Fortune 500 phenomenon?

No, many companies are finding productivity gains by hiring temporary workers. The workers are motivated and they work 40 hours. They are held to a time reporting system with clear deliverables.

Many of our readers may have trouble wrapping their minds around not taking a permanent job; can contract work actually be a permanent career path?

About 10% of the temporary workers convert to permanent employment at some point for each of our clients. Many assignments roll onto new projects. Often, when offered full time employment, the offer is less pay than the hourly job. Take home pay on a temporary job is generally  1.2 to 1.35 more than the salaried take home pay as a rule of thumb.

You see thousands of resumes every year and get to see first hand how employees select candidates, can you offer any resume advice?

Keep it simple, clear and concise. Tailor your resume to each job then submit the resume. Make sure the grammar is proper and you highlight your strengths.

When you screen candidates what sort of background reference checking or Internet research do you typically utilize?

We check education and ask for references from at least three managers who have managed their performance. Typically, we find our own references in a company and check references that way. Who gives out a bad reference?

What about interviewing, are there any tricks of the trade that you recommend?

Practice your listening skills first, identify their problem and sell yourself in the interview. Do not dominate the meeting; give them a sample of your knowledge and how you behave in a business meeting. Ask questions that play to your strengths and offer up solutions based on your strengths.  They are hiring because they have a problem…. be the solution. Interviewing is subjective. The better interviewer gets hired, not the better candidate.

Well, the last few questions have been rather tactical to a job seeker; do you have any strategic advice for individual’s personal branding efforts?

Network and join associations in your chosen fields. Associate with known Industry experts. Even if you are not working, by networking you are able to stay focused in your field and learn new skills.

Any other career advice for our readership?

Use Linked In and other social networking sites daily to network with your friends. Do not deluge your contacts with requests; keep it to once a month if not less. Keep your eyes open and stay upbeat.  Don’t be afraid to get underemployed if you have been out for awhile, it beats the alternative.

Is LinkedIn the best job board?


As our readership knows, we do not encourage job seekers to dedicate any meaningful job search time to “surfing” job boards. Career Brander advocates a much more targeted job search campaign that focuses on,personal branding, best-fit target companies, data mining, networking  and establishing web spiders through tools that help uncover the hidden job market, such as Job Search Radar.

However, despite our recommendations, millions of unemployed folks, as well as gainfully employed individuals, visit job board sites every day.  Clearly, visiting job boards creates some feeling of accomplishment despite the statistics clearly supporting very few people ever find their next job by applying to job board postings.  So if you are one of the millions of job board visitors, we thought we might share a few perspectives on the job board market.

There are now over 10,000 job boards on the Internet and the numbers are growing daily.  We’ve actually read data that there are over 40,000 depending on your definition of a job board.  How can this be?  Creating job boards has never been easier. For under $1000 ANYONE, can buy software that allows you to create your own job board in about 48 hours.  When the cost of entry in terms of time and money gets that low, the market gets over saturated.

The market is still dominated by a few mega-boards, in particular, Monster(Hot Jobs) and Career Builder.  There are also dozens of job listing aggregators that are gaining traffic, including Indeed, Simply Hired and Linkup.  These aggregators offer a higher utility, but we still only recommend using them for their automated alert features and nothing more.

So who do  we believe  is the best job board? LinkedIn.  Yes , it is much more than a traditional job board and perhaps unfair to designate it the best job board.  However, it clearly offers job postings and  its added value beyond the listings easily makes it the best website to accelerate  job search opportunities for professional positions.

We recently  read a blog posting saying that in the last 18 months, Barclays, the mega bank from London, hired 10% of all their employees via LinkedIn. If true, this is an amazing statistic and truly speaks to LinkedIn’s emergence as the top job search website destination. We have to admit, we are not overly surprised by LinkedIn’s success.  LinkedIn offers recruiters the ability to mine candidates  for free.  The community now has almost 60 million profiles and the cost for corporations to post jobs on LinkedIn is half the price of the major job boards.

LinkedIn continues to grow at a pace of almost 1 million new members per month. If one were to extrapolate, it clearly is becoming the social network of choice for businesses, and thus its reign as the top job search website destination is just beginning.


LinkedIn keeps adding features each month, but here are a few new one’s we’d ask our readership to send to LinkedIn for consideration. Just hit send us your feedback at the bottom of your LinkedIn homepage.

  • Allow individuals to have sub categories of industry.  As an example, if you sell stock trading systems software to Wall Street firms, you should be able to choose your industry as software and your sub industry as financial services or capital markets.
  • Create the ability to view your contacts through visual mapping by geography and industry.
  • Integrate the Search Me function into their applications.
  • Provide more robust search analytics.  Why not tell people what type of searches their profile is attracting?
  • Consider a new recommendation system.  In its current set up, it’s too much you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours.  There needs to be some sort of advance ranking system that allows for a 360 degree review profile by co-workers on an anonymous level.

The Hidden Job Market

As we enter 2010, Career Brander has the most comprehensive suite of Internet based job search tools of any career website.  We pride ourselves on being forward thinking in terms of Internet job search and we constantly monitor software services, trade magazines and blogs to identify new job seeker technology that can aid those in transition.   We also try to offer perspective that is fresh.  However, it is humbling at times to see that others have thought through perspectives, issues and opportunities years before you think you have “original ideas”.Over the year end holiday’s I found an article that served as one of those humbling moments. 

 I do not often think it is worthwhile to quote government websites, but below I am repurposing content from the Department of Labor’s website.  The fact that it was written 6 years ago, to me is even more amazing.     

Here is a snippet from the article that caught my attention:  “A chainsaw is great for cutting firewood. Use the tool the wrong way, however, and you could really hurt yourself. The Internet is like that for job seekers. It is a power tool. It can aid a job search or prolong joblessness, depending on how it is used.     

Before the birth of the Internet, savvy job seekers commonly did several things in an orderly manner to find employment. They prepared résumés, did research, contacted employers, engaged in networking, arranged interviews, and pursued job leads from many sources. Today’s savvy job seekers still engage in the same activities, but they add online methods to the traditional process.”   The article goes on to say:  “Employers fill the majority of job openings without advertising them. These unadvertised openings are called “the hidden job market.”     

“Hunting for jobs in the hidden market takes pluck. (definition below) It requires initiative, communication skills, resourcefulness, time management, perseverance, and research skills.” As I recently read the above, I could not think of a more appropriate segue for 2010 than to share these words with the readers of the Career Brander blog. We believe in these words and we also are passionate that Job Search Radar is the best tool available for job seekers to access the hidden job market.  


Merriam Webster’s third definition of the word pluck.    

 Pluck: courageous readiness to fight or continue against odds : dogged resolution  


Finding Jobs Online

How do individuals prospect for work on the Internet? [ ] recently surveyed job seekers to learn about Internet job search behavior.  Two thirds of all respondents indicated they spend time on the leading job boards. 

 Specific to the survey, the top 4 sites used were:  Monster 63%,  Career Builder 57%,  Hot Jobs 34% and  Craigs List 31%.  This correlates directly to the idea that despite there being as many as 10,000 job boards on the Internet, the largest sites still dominate consumer traffic.

Interestingly, studies have shown that only 10-15% of all jobs are filled through job boards. 

 So why are so many job seekers spending time on job boards?  The answer is multi-faceted.

  1. Job boards market and advertise like crazy and thus they are always front of mind. Do you realize three different job boards had Super Bowl ads last year?
  2. It’s easy to do.  Simply sit at home and surf  The Net!  It is the path of least effort.
  3. To the credit of most job boards, there is a lot of interesting career transition content on these sites.
  4. The consumer is not educated to the idea that most jobs are not ever filled through job boards.  They are still operating under the guise that Job Boards are today’s newspaper and newspapers are where you find jobs.

Out recommendation to those in career transition:  If  job boards successfully match candidates to jobs 10-15% of the time, they, at most, deserve 10-15% of your job seeking time.  Take the other 85-90% of your time and tap into the hidden job market.  How do you find the hidden job market?  By researching and networking through companies that would fit your personal targeted hiring profile

The bikini and the number one beach activity


An atoll is a coral reef that forms an almost complete circle around a lagoon. Perhaps the world’s most famous atoll is located in the Pacific Ocean near the  Marshall Islands .  It is called Bikini Atoll.  It is famous because in 1946 the first nuclear bomb was detonated there leaving nothing but bare ground in its wake.  In 1947 Bikini Atoll became famous for a different explosion when a new “all revealing” and “almost bare”, skimpy two piece bathing suit was unveiled in the French Riviera.  The bikini.

The bikini? Isn’t this a career marketing blog? Yes it is.

The choice to wear a bikini to the beach is not natural selection for many. The idea of showing so much of their body is uncomfortable,  yet it can be attention getting.  Career marketing is quite similar. For most people you need to expose much more of yourself than is naturally comfortable.  However, if you do it correctly, you will get attention.  Hiding to much or staying hidden simply stated, may hinder moving your career forward.

Sure, some are folks can naturally put on a bikini with no issue and expose a flawless body, but let’s be honest, it’s the minority of folks.  For good career marketing, we would argue one needs to put on a bikini rather than a one piece, a cover up and then wrapping yourself in a towel under a large umbrella with sun glasses.  You need to be seen, and you should control, how you are seen, through carefully planned personal marketing.

Lesson #1 You must put yourself out there. Wear a bikini.








We debated adding a Borat bikini picture, but we thought we would spare the readership. Click here if you want to see it.

So besides men looking at women and women looking at men, what is the number one beach activity?


Why is this pertinent to job search and career marketing?

Because everyone focused on career marketing should be reading a lot.  They should be reading trade magazines, newspapers, career blogs, technology blogs, association newsletters,company websites and press releases.  Reading  provides you with perspective and information to access the hidden job market.  Answers abound. Which companies are growing?  What are some areas where companies need help? What are the new emerging technologies?  What are people buying? What are they not buying? What are people interested in?  Who is opening new factories or signing new leases for more space? Who is rolling out a new product line?  Who has record earnings?  Where are venture capitalists investing?  All these tidbits of information provide clues to your next great career opportunity. The real job market is not on job boards, but in reading numerous sources and connecting the dots.

You may not be aware, but the worlds most successful business man, Warren Buffet, claims reading periodicals and corporate reports several hours a day is critical to his business success!

Lesson #2  Read everything.  It will help you identify needs and opportunities.

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