Accessing the hidden job market


Looking for your next career move in today’s job market may feel quite challenging as competition for advertised roles is extremely high. You may also become frustrated if you are receiving little or no acknowledgement of your applications. It is estimated that over 70% of job roles are not advertised, so understanding more about these key techniques will help you to secure your next role.

‘The hidden job market’ is a term used to describe opportunities that are filled before they are advertised. You can access the hidden job market by using your network/connections to help find unadvertised job openings or through a more proactive approach targeting companies who may be of interest or who are going through change or growth and may be recruiting in the future

Why aren’t jobs always advertised?

Many employers choose not to advertise vacancies initially, preferring to utilise other methods of recruitment where possible in order to save time and money.  They may have an internal referral scheme or redeployment programme. Additionally, well-known organisations may have their own careers portal on their websites allowing you to upload your CV for future vacancies, which demonstrates interest in their organisation. Hiring Managers are also using LinkedIn to carry out their own candidate searching as recruitment agency fees can be high.  Most companies advertise online as a last resort.

There are two main approaches within the hidden job market that you need to consider:


In business terms, networking is the process of speaking to professional contacts and sharing information with them. Networking can be formal or informal, it involves building relationships with others in order to identify leads and take advantage of potential opportunities. Developing contacts with other professionals can include friends, family, neighbours, graduate alumni - anyone who might help generate information and job leads. Networking really is all about opening up and having conversations.

Here are some tips to help you develop and get the most from your network:

  • Determine who is in your professional and social network and break your key contact lists down into hot, warm and cool contacts. Hot contacts will have the direct decision-making power on employment opportunities. Warm contacts may put you in contact with a hiring manager or be able to provide useful leads. Cool contacts may be indirect contacts who could be useful to start an initial conversation with about the company you have an interest in.
  • Rather than asking them for a job directly, ask for advice, ideas and career transition guidance. This way your contacts will be more open to having a conversation. This may be about understanding what recruitment agencies their company uses, or how they broke into that particular industry?
  • Professional networking initially takes place online, mostly via LinkedIn, where the aim is for a virtual meeting where you can start to build a rapport. Whereas social networking, may take place over a coffee or a conversation with someone you know in a social environment.

Networking is a two-way process so consider how you can help them in the near future, from liking their social media posts to introducing them to someone in your network.

Speculative Approaches

A speculative application involves proactively approaching an employer who is not in your network to seek out opportunities that have not been advertised. Organisations are more open to proactive approaches as it demonstrates initiative and motivation. If you have a clear idea of the type of role and organisation you are looking for, you can put together a targeted plan of companies to approach with an introductory email and CV. With a bit of online research, you should be able to identify decision makers you would be reporting into, therefore, who to make contact with.

Here are some tips to help you with your speculative approach:

  • Research the contact details of the key person you are approaching either through their social media platforms such as LinkedIn or the company website.
  • Tailor your emails; say specifically why you are interested in the company and how your experience will be relevant to them.
  • Look for posts and articles on social media to show you have done your research. If the companies you are targeting are hiring elsewhere in the business, you could highlight in your email, you can see they are going through a period of growth and therefore may require additional support in other areas of their business.
  • The ending of your email should be proactive. Instead of stating that you’ll look forward to hearing from them, say that you’ll call them next week to discuss how your experience may be of interest to them.
  • Include a copy of your CV ensuring it is complete with achievements and not just responsibilities. Where relevant, tailor it to your target audience including relevant industry experience.
  • Think about competitors of companies you have worked for, companies going through a change or business growth - at some point they may be looking to add to their business, so catch them before they need to advertise.

The hidden job market represents over 70% of the entire job market, so incorporate it into your job search today to maximise your chances of securing your next career move. Good luck!

Renovo is the UK’s leading outplacement and career transition specialist. We work with both organisations and individuals to support all their career transition requirements. If you would like to understand how Renovo can help you please email

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