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The Hidden Job Market

I was struck by an experience during my summer internship in Chicago in 2011 that has stayed with me. The ‘big boss’ came to meet that year’s cohort of interns – 15 of us in total. He asked each of us how we found out about the internship opportunity and 13 interns said they knew someone working at the company. He couldn’t help but wonder aloud why almost nobody had come in through the company’s online application process and the many career fairs they had organized. I was shocked by this apparent ‘nepotism’ and my first response was, “I thought this only happened in poor countries like mine with have high levels of corruption”. However caught myself and the outrage quickly disappeared when I remembered that I got in because the CEO of the company gave me a personal referral.

The types of jobs open to most job seekers can be found by anyone on job boards like, e.t.c. – let’s call this the ‘visible job market’.  However, as we’ll see later, these account for less than 20% of all available jobs. The remaining jobs can be found on the ‘hidden job market’ or ‘invisible job market’. In this blog, we will use the two terms interchangeably. Probably the best definition for this was provided by Carrie Krueger of the Jobfully blog. She defines the term ‘hidden job market’ as  “jobs that are revealed through channels other than advertisements or job board postings”. Another good definition of the term, provided by the Simply Hired blog,  is as follows: “The invisible job market refers to the untold number of job openings that never appear online or on any public website”

In future blog posts on this subject, I will be exploring the workings of the invisible job market and why, for the most part, applying for online job postings is a big waste of time. I will also explore the best known strategies to quadrupling your job success. I’ll introduce effective, but little known tools, for unlocking the invisible job market.

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Mahama Nyankamawu

Author, Career 3.0