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Forbes: 6 ways to crack the “hidden” job market

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It seems almost a cruel joke being played on people desperate to find work: Most jobs getting filled these days aren’t even advertised.

Instead, they’re typically part of the hidden job market — those millions of openings that never get formally posted. It now accounts for up to 80% of hires, according to some estimates.

This, from Forbes: many employers believe they can save both time and money by filling positions without advertising them. But that makes job-hunting tough and the answer to this, says Forbes, is: connections, connections, connections.

The article outlines what the author calls “six smart strategies to help you find out about ‘hidden jobs’:

1. Change the way you network If you want to crack the hidden job market, you’ve got to be smarter about the way you connect with people with inside knowledge about unposted openings.

The three keys:

First, make networking a habit, not something you do only when you need a job. By including this practice in your normal routine, you’ll automatically increase your chances of hearing about opportunities. So make a point of staying in regular touch with former colleagues and always adding new LinkedIn connections.

Second, remember the cardinal rule of networking: Give before you get. Forward articles you think could be helpful to people you know and pass on job leads you’ve heard about. Networking is about building genuine relationships, not asking for favors.

Finally, make it easy for people to help you find a job. When you’re talking to contacts who might be valuable for your search, tell them about the kinds of positions you’re looking for and the employers or fields that interest you. Then follow up with emails so they’ll have handy takeaways summarizing what you discussed.

Bonus Tip: Always end your networking conversations by asking: “Who else should I be talking to?” That question will, in turn, lead to introductions.

Other tips (in random order):

2. Contact employers directly. I’m continually amazed by how rarely people reach out to people at places they’d like to work unless they see positions advertised there.

And then there’s always Google:

3. Sign up for Google News Alerts. One of the best ways to learn about hidden jobs is to stay up-to-date with prospective employers. This way, you’ll be among the first to know when one, say, leases additional office space, signs a big partnership deal or receives a new round of funding — all signs that the firm or nonprofit might soon be hiring.

Google News Alerts make it easy to do this. Just go to the Google Alerts page and type in which employers, decision makers and fields of interest you want to hear about. Then you’ll start receivng emails with the latest news Google has turned up.

Bonus Tip: After you get a Google Alert about a key executive at an employer where you’d like to work, weave the flattering information into your e-mail or phone call when you ask for an interview.

For the other tips, check out the Forbes article here: Forbes Magazine.

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