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Ask James Caan – Issue 85

Written by Kimberley Startup | February 29, 2012 | 1 Comment

James Caan Online RecruitmentDear Member,

The hidden jobs market – I’m sure it’s a term you have heard before, but it seems to be popping up lately as employers rely on speculative applications rather than using traditional channels.

Candidates are frustrated with the lack of opportunities advertised and the challenge of unlocking the invisible jobs market is seen as an additional hurdle. Whilst many see the value of networking – recognising it as the key to unlocking potential jobs – many people still feel their activity isn’t proving successful.

Take Jane for example.

‘I’ve been out of work for nearly a year since being made redundant from my last job as a PA. I feel like I’ve applied to hundreds of ads online with not much luck. I’ve been told the majority of jobs aren’t advertised, but am I missing something?’

Jane, I’ve been in recruitment for many years and heard many statistics thrown around when it comes to the ‘hidden jobs’ market – with people suggesting that up to 70% of jobs are not advertised.

Especially in today’s climate, I’ve seen a trend in employers relying on word of mouth referrals, careers sites and internal communications to find candidates in a bid to lower recruitment costs. The candidate-rich, job-short market is acting as a lucrative source for some businesses who rely on speculative applications.

As a Personal Assistant you are operating in a competitive industry, so distancing yourself from contenders is crucial as is a re-think of your current job search methods.

So how can you break into this hidden market? You need to be casting a wider net to increase your chances of finding new opportunities.

The hidden jobs market is all about expanding your horizons, meeting new people and discovery. I personally have a benchmark for success in the hidden job market. You know your strategy is working when your name comes up for the right reasons when you are not in the room.

As a starting point, don’t rely on using one or two resources. It’s easy to fall into the trap of searching the same listings, using the same keywords. In reality this can prove counter-productive when you should be focusing your energy on more strategic activities.

We know that to provide clients with the best selection of candidates, recruiters use a number of resources to share clients’ opportunities. Using webrecruit as an example, not only do we use job boards, but we’ll look into niche sites, LinkedIn, multiple databases – you name it – just to cast a wider net for our customers.

With this in mind, breaking into the hidden jobs market doesn’t seem as difficult. It’s about using a complementary set of on and offline resources to unearth potential leads.

One of the best ways to find a job is through a combination of networking and direct contact, so get in touch with friends, family and former employers.Tell people you’re looking for a job. These contacts can be an excellent source of information. If you don’t have many contacts in your field, conduct a search on LinkedIn to meet people and join groups. Talk to professionals who are doing the type of work you might like to get into. Ask about advice, ideas, leads and referrals – people always have time for that conversation.

Once you have a better idea of the companies you’d like to target, you need to start making speculative applications. This means contacting companies directly to find out about opportunities. The general guidelines for speculative applications include: ensuring your CV is targeted to the company, finding out the name and title of the appropriate person to send your application to, making clear the sort of work you are seeking, following up the letter to see if you can meet for a discussion and including a cover letter.

I wish you the best of luck,


One thought on “Ask James Caan – Issue 85

  1. Upfront Business Development on Reply

    It is often like the old saying goes; ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’. Like James says, expanding your horizons and meeting new people is essential to have as many options available to you as you can. Often opportunities will arise out of nothing purely from just having good and wide connections with various people form various background and industries. Get networking.

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