The Hidden Job Market: The Employer’s Perspective

So here you are, applying to jobs you find online and not hearing back — and then you hear about a friend who got a job, with seemingly little effort. She got an introduction, or had a coffee date, or did who knows what, and suddenly, she’s on her way to her first day at a slick office in New York. And you’re wondering, how did she do that?


Well, if you think she got in through some secret or hidden opportunities you don’t know about, chances are, you’re right. While you’ve been applying to jobs on websites like, your friend waltzed right past hundreds of job applicants and found a position through what some people call the Hidden Job Market.

What is the Hidden Job Market? It’s all the jobs that are never posted online where you might easily find them. Now you might think, “Well, why is it worth the effort to find these hidden jobs, when I could easily just look for ones that are already posted?”


Let me answer that with a crazy statistic: 80% of new jobs are never publicly listed or advertised (and according to some studies, the higher the salary, the less likely a position is to be advertised). This means that:


  1. There are tons of amazing job opportunities that you’ll never learn about through a google search or job boards, and


  1. Most people are competing for the same 20% of the jobs that are easier to find.

So the bad news is, if you keep looking for jobs online, it’s an uphill battle.


Here’s the good news: if you develop a strategy to access the hidden job market, you will have significantly less competition and a much greater choice of prime jobs.


Why is most of the job market hidden?


It seems unfair. Why aren’t these jobs available for everyone to see. But as you’ll read in a minute, it’s much easier for employers to hire people from a smaller, pre-selected pool of candidates they already have some reason to trust than to wade through hundreds of strangers’ resumes. (And make no mistake: whenever you apply to positions on public job boards, you are competing with hundreds of other candidates.)

Insider Secret: the hiring process from the employer’s perspective

You already know how hard finding a job is for you. But did you know that it’s a difficult process for employers, too?


Hiring is very expensive and time-consuming

The average cost of finding someone from outside the company to fill the job is $15,000. And it’s a huge pain for everyone involved.


Just think about it: the company has to take a bunch of time looking through resumes and conducting interviews, when they could be working on other urgent, pressing work. They have to deal with the logistics – finding space to hold the interview, finding times that work for everyone, and other details. And then, they have to take a leap of faith – even if someone seems like the perfect candidate during an interview and their work history seems to be solid, what if they turn out not to be that great a fit? At some companies, 40%-60% of hires are unsuccessful. So then, after all those wasted resources and time spent, the company has to restart the search from the very beginning.


Many companies view posting on sites like and as a “failure”

When a job opens up, at most companies, the ideal option would be making an internal hire – in other words, promoting someone who already works for the company. This is great because the employer already knows this candidate and understands their track record. Plus, it boosts morale by showing that staff are advancing and getting promoted.


When that’s not possible, the next best option is for the company to dip into its network, asking key staff members, “Hey, do you know anyone who would be good for this role?” It is much easier to interview someone recommended by an employee than to wade through hundreds of applications from strangers; it narrows down the options, and is a safer bet, because of the referral from someone they already trust.


Employers then gradually broaden the scope of their search — for example, they might send a email to all employees about the job, to ask if anybody knows a professional who would be a good fit. And only after all these options are exhausted do they consider posting to a public job site, receiving an onslaught of resumes and applications, the majority of which will not be anywhere near a good fit.


So how can you use this information to your advantage?

Here’s something to keep in mind: these insider recommendations are not always someone they know really well; it could be someone a staff member was impressed by at a coffee meeting. And this is where you have a chance to tap into these opportunities. By being a smart networker, you can set yourself up to be the person they think of the next time there is an opening.


In my next blog post, I will talk about how to network effectively, to take advantage of these opportunities.

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