Take The Lead In Your Own Job Search By Tapping Into The “Hidden Job” Market
Melanie Fine Forbes Contributor
I write about leadership that defies convention.
Nov 14, 2022,02:28pm EST
When reading headlines about the job market being at a historic low of 3.5% and with hundreds of thousands of new jobs being created, it is difficult to reconcile the number of mass tech company layoffs and stock market instability. The thing is, most of these market indicators alone are not enough to gauge the economy at scale and could lead to false sentiments about future markets. For example, a low unemployment rate might not factor in people that have been “quietly quitting” or others who are under-employed in their current roles.
Despite all of these polarizing facts and figures, there is something every career-minded individual needs to understand about the job market. The best jobs are not widely available on job boards, LinkedIn job vacancies, or even on internal hiring posts.
So how can you access this untapped marketplace to increase your salary and build a more rewarding career?
Given the transitory nature of employment and the vagaries of the economy, it only makes sense to take steps that ensure a rewarding work life. That’s certainly the advice of West Point graduate and career coach Tom Kent, a former chief marketing officer at several top-drawer Silicon Valley tech firms.
Just as the pandemic was receding, he chose to take control over his own career trajectory by launching CareerNerds, a career coaching practice focused on helping veterans land executive-level positions.
Despite the saturated appearance of the sector, Kent asserts that he’s bringing a unique perspective and value proposition to the sizzling jobseekers marketplace.
Just as leadership is a highly valued commodity in the military, Kent believes each of us must take the lead in charting our own career destinations.
“When you think about it, the main avenues used to find employment opportunities are online job boards and recruiters,” he says. “That used to be enough, but even in today’s white-hot market with just 3.5% unemployment, you have to go beyond these minimal efforts.”
He explains that maximizing one’s value in the job market requires developing an optimized branding profile and actively nurturing a robust personal network.
“During my own 18-year career trajectory after leaving the military, I’ve learned a lot of life lessons and developed skills which deliver exceptional results.”
He recalls that as a graduate of West Point, he was greeted with multiple offers from top employers such as PricewaterhouseCoopers and several members of the so-called FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google) club. He says that his executive experience in Silicon Valley taught him that many of the most desirable opportunities are found in what he calls the “hidden job market.”
“The hidden job market isn’t on career websites, employment agencies, or even found through recruiters,” he says. “The old adage that a large percentage of jobs are never advertised at all is true. Recent estimates suggest only 40% of positions are listed, and roughly 70% of employers begin and end their search internally with existing employees and that HR professionals rely heavily on their own networks.”
The futility of counting on an online application doing the trick hit home when Kent was trying to land a job with a large tech firm in New York City.
“I saw the listing the day it was posted and thought I had an excellent chance,” he remembers. “Although many of the times I was hired happened through people in my network, I figured this would at least get me an interview.”
Having a mutual connection with the CEO of the firm prompted him to call the executive directly to hedge his bet.
“When he picked up, he said “We’ve had 400 submissions today alone. That made me realize how unlikely it is to be picked out of a pool that large.”
“I asked him if I could go through the process anyway and wound up being one of the two final candidates using the techniques I teach my clients,” Kent says. “Veterans face unique challenges which they should be aware of and address,” he adds.
“Transitioning from the military to civilian life demands strategic thinking,” Kent advises. “While you may have the ideal skills and expertise an employer wants, your resume may not resonate with the private sector. I make sure it provides ample evidence you’re an exceptional candidate due to your service, not despite it.”
As a prominent career coach, he says it’s important to remember the job market is a two-way street. In addition to helping over 400 professionals advance their careers with better jobs and higher pay, he frequently consults with hiring professionals at major corporations to improve their ability to fill the talent void.
“I’m performing a dual, intertwined service by presenting candidates to HR professionals in the best light possible while assisting employers in tapping into the hidden job market.”
Although Kent offers his clients customized career-building counseling, he says there are a number of tactics that have proven effective, regardless of age, education, and profession.
Optimize your LinkedIn profile
“This is the most important platform available today for presenting yourself to the corporate world. Think of it as your electronic business card. It is an initial contact point where companies get the first glimpse of a potential worker, get a sense of what they are all about, and quickly assess whether or not they may be a potential asset to the company. It can really make you stand out in the crowd!”
Seek out decision-makers on LinkedIn
“Networking is a numbers game. Not everyone will respond, so you have to be persistent. Don’t just reach out to senior executives and HR, but connect with people who share experiences and goals similar to your own. Remember, all it takes is one exchange with one like-minded contact to open the door to an opportunity that may not have been possible before.
Create your one-minute elevator pitch
Think of yourself as a startup. Write and memorize a brief description of your past experiences, achievements, career highlights, and future goals. Use it verbally in appropriate situations and cut and paste the text version on social media, email, and online interactions.
Reach out to executives and influencers on screen-sharing sessions:
Buy a high-resolution webcam and hone your video presentation skills.
Connecting with as many employers, business associates, and recruiters helps put a face to the name. Be brief and relaxed while emphasizing your successes and value as a team member.
Although Kent brings an armada of expertise and resources to every client engagement, he declares that each of us is well-equipped to find career success provided we stick to the game plan with good humor and tenacity.
“We all share the same general ambitions – job satisfaction, ideal work-life balance, making more money, gaining more freedom, being a good provider to loved ones, moving up in our chosen field,” he says confidently. “As I tell everyone I meet, ‘Be exceptional. It's your destiny.’”
Originally published on November 14, 2022 here on Forbes.
Founder and CEO of CareerNerds