I just received a fantastic question from a jobseeker, “A company I’m interested in is getting ready to start building the corporate offices about 2 miles from my home. It is a massive project and something my construction management skills might be well suited for. Any ideas how to get in the door?”
Well, fancy that you should ask, because yes, in fact, I do have several ideas on how to get in the door. Let’s talk about how to break into the hidden job market the right way.
First of all, why is this a hidden job market opportunity at all? The reason is this: the job is not advertised. The candidate did not come across it online (where 1,000) of his closest competitors also saw it the same moment he did. Rather, he learned of the opportunity just by knowing his neighborhood.
There’s a lesson for you there: become aware of what’s going on around you. Whether that’s a stone’s throw from your front door, or a 15-20 mile radius from your home, get your finger on the pulse of what is happening in your local market. Use search-based Internet research and gather your local newspapers to keep up on business news: who’s coming into the market, who’s building a new division, and who’s launching a new product.
So, what are the best strategies to take advantage of this opportunity?
1) Build a list of companies you’re interested in.
Once you’ve conducted your research to identify the movers and shakers in your city or town, build a targeted list of companies. 10 should be the minimum; the most successful candidates make a list of 30. By doing so, you’re upgrading from “job search” to “company search.”
The difference is important. A job search is finite: if you apply for that opportunity and don’t get it, it’s over. Not so with a company search. There are numerous opportunities to potentially uncover within the organization as a whole.
2) Use LinkedIn advanced search.
You need to make LinkedIn advanced search your new best friend. There are numerous options you can select in order to narrow down your findings to the company, location, and individual(s) you need. Initiate LinkedIn connections with the HR specialists, recruiters, and relevant functional decision makers – the people who would like be your bosses. For example, if you’re an IT manager, identify the Director, IT and VP, IT as functional decision makers with whom you need to connect.
3) Send a short, value-laden note.
This is going to be short and sweet. Indicate that you came across their organization and see they are involved in A, B and C. Your expertise is X, Y and Z, which you’re thinking constitutes a solid fit. Ask if that person is willing to hop on the phone with you for 5 minutes this week.
Now, keep your expectations realistic. Will you hit a home run every single time? No. Will you do so some of the time yes. What about if you don’t do this strategy at all? Then the answer is 100% no.
The jobseekers that step forward, reach out, and make connections with new people are the ones who succeed time and again. Make sure to put yourself in the category of people who graduated from “job seeking” to “employed.”