Student Success Centre

Advertised & Hidden Jobs

Before You Start, Ask Yourself:

Targeting The Job:

The Advertised Job Market and the Hidden Job Market

Advertised jobs are often those that are in high demand but with a low supply of workers, or in high demand with a high turnover of workers. EVERYBODY applies to the advertised jobs. Advertised jobs represent only 20% of job openings but most people don’t know how to access any others. To look through advertised job postings, you can visit CareerCentral or other popular job posting sites here.

Hidden jobs make up approximately 80-85% of the job market.The hidden job market exists because employers prefer to fill vacancies by methods other than advertising.  Employers are always looking for the best people to fill positions that they have open or that will be opening in the near future. Information about this available work is circulated through the employer’s network of co-workers, business associates, friends, and acquaintances.



Head hunters

Direct Mailing


How it works

Advertisements invite applications; screening process to select “best” candidate

Third parties select candidates; screening process to select shortlist of “best” candidates

Direct mailings to potential employers

Employers look to people whom they know for help in filling vacancies


Vacancies and job descriptions exist

Vacancies and job descriptions exist

Can target specific employers

Little, if any, competition for vacant positions


Much competition

Much competition

Vacancies may not exist

Very time-consuming


How Do I Tap The Hidden Job Market?

Other Ways to Find Work

Common Job Search Problems

1. I check the classified ads every day but there are no job openings for someone like me.

Only a small number of employers ever use newspaper classified ads. From the employer's point of view, these ads are expensive, time-consuming, and slow.

Many employers rely on word-of-mouth recommendations from their employees or colleagues. Resumes and contacts from qualified job seekers have a good chance of being considered for openings. Accessing the hidden job market can help you develop your network so your name is the first mentioned to an interested employer.

If you're not finding the jobs you want in the want ads, you need to access the hidden job market.

2. I find ads in the classifieds and send in a great resume and cover letter but I never hear from the advertiser again.

Newspaper classified ads are MASS marketing. Employers get tons of resumes from these ads. A quick scan through the resumes, often by a clerical employee, weeds out the small numbers who exactly match the requirements stated in the ad.

If you can get the employer's attention when the company is NOT weighed down with tons of resumes, you'll be the first applicant considered. Hidden job market techniques can help you spot the most appropriate and likely companies who are NOT currently submerged in resumes.

If you're not a perfect match for the jobs you see in the classifieds, you need to access the hidden job market.

3. I am over-qualified for the job openings I find.

You're not alone! This statement applies to many experienced job seekers. Job ads work best for entry-level jobs. If you have more than a few years of experience you may NEVER see a job ad that is appropriate for you.

Why? After you've established yourself in an occupation, the assumption is if you're any good the employer will know about you. Of course this isn't strictly true. But employers manage to hear about enough established workers to make the connections on their own.

If you're an employer looking for a middle-level manager (an occupation hard-hit of late), you can "ask around" for the names of employed (or unemployed) managers in this setting, interview one or two, and you've got a new manager!  Networking techniques can help you get YOUR name into this conversation.

Experienced candidates need to access the hidden job market to find positions and employers who are the best match.

4. I lack a degree or years of required experience for the job openings I see.

If you can get to the employer BEFORE the job ad is written up, you'll stand a much better chance of getting hired.  Why? The employer starts with a problem that needs to be solved: "We have to speed up accounts receivable. Maybe we need a new computer system? Maybe we need better inventory controls?" At this early stage, the focus is on the problem and possible solutions.

The employer will scout around for an easy solution - transfer an employee, hire a consultant, or write new procedures. If the easy solutions don't work, the next stage is to think about hiring someone. If you can "hook up" with the employer at either the problem stage or at the "let's think about hiring someone stage”, your lack of a degree or extensive experience may not be an obstacle. Hiring you will be quick and easy.  

This is the way business really works. You might as well make it work FOR you by making contact early on in the process. Hidden job market techniques help you identify employers who may be thinking about solving a problem you can solve.

If you lack sterling credentials, you need hidden job market techniques to reach employers BEFORE they advertise a job.

5. No one in MY town needs anyone who does what I do.

How do you know? 

Because you're not seeing classified ads for your target position? Not convincing. Do some research to discover employers in your area who are in your target industry.

Because you were caught in a mass downsizing and many of your friends and colleagues are still unemployed? Odds are the majority of these folks are NOT using the hidden job market. They are checking classified ads. The hidden job market requires a lot of work on your part but it will get you off the "beaten path”. Use your research, creativity, and persistence to define and go after a unique job market tailored to you.

Because you worked in a unique setting for a one-of-a-kind employer? Start thinking about allied industries and your attractive skills. If you were in advertising, say, for the only newspaper in town, think about the customers you dealt with every day: local advertising agencies where your insider knowledge and experience would give you an edge, or large local advertisers who may need someone to manage their advertising.

As you work through the hidden job market you must focus on skills, problems solved, and value rather than on job titles and a single employer. Look for the "tune" of your work history rather than the words....who else is singing this song?

If you've run out of ideas, use research to develop leads to employers in the hidden job market.

6. I've been working for years but I've never looked for a job before in my life.

Chances are, then, that all the jobs you've ever had found YOU rather than you looking for them!  You've been using the hidden job market!

Most people find their jobs from other people, not from ads. Someone calls you or you hear about a position from a friend or co-worker, and the next thing you know you have a new job. The only problem with finding a job this way is making it work for you when you need it!

If you need a job now, you'll have to make it happen by making contacts with your network and potential employers. It's a lot harder than waiting for a phone call out of the blue, but it's where the best jobs are found.

You know the hidden job market works, because you've been using it.

7. I know I could do the job if I could only get an interview.

One of the advantages of accessing the hidden job market is that, from your first contact with the employer, the interview has begun! Your contacts, whether by telephone, in person or through email, are a chance for the employer to get a "feel" for you beyond the impersonal black and white of a resume and cover letter.

You'll want to be prepared for these initial contacts and to put your best foot forward.

Hidden job market techniques will get you talking to employers early in the job search and presenting your best case in person.

8. I am willing to conduct my job search with the same skill, persistence, and creativity that I bring to my job.

The hidden job market works precisely because it requires so much effort from the job seeker.  Employers are people too and, like most people, they prefer to use the easiest method for accomplishing a task. For the employer, the hidden job market is extremely easy. They simply wait for a phone call from someone who can solve their problems. If the caller is on target and the timing is right, nothing could be easier for the employer.

Job seekers who work the hidden job market are more persistent, creative, and results-oriented than job seekers who rely on classified ads. Employers instinctively know that hidden job market job seekers are the best of the best. These are the kind of employees they want!

Congratulations! You are a PRIME candidate for the hidden job market.

9. The hidden job market is only for executives and professionals.

While it is true that executives and professionals NEED the hidden job market, other job seekers use it quite successfully.

If you are a factory worker, the accepted method of job seeking is to visit the factory and fill out an application. If you are an auto mechanic, you visit local garages and talk to the head mechanic. If you're looking for a sales clerk job, you target local retail shops and ask to speak with the owner or manager. Notice you're NOT waiting for an ad to appear in the newspaper.

Whether you are an executive, professional, or ordinary worker, chances are you do not know all the potential employers in your area. You'll want to research local employers and grow a list of your possible contacts.

No matter what your professional level, hidden job market techniques can help your job search.

10. I don't know many people, I'm new in town, I'm shy, I can't handle it when people say no to me.

Very few job seekers find the hidden job market comfortable. This is the good news: it means that you've cut out 90% of the competition from other job seekers by even trying!

By stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying hidden job market techniques, you are increasing your chances of success!