companies don't hide openings, they keep them secret from strangersLuck, timing, trust, and skills are the winning combination to unlock the Hidden Job Market.

Actually, it’s not about who you know, it’s really about who knows, likes, trusts and remembers you when there is an appropriate opportunity. This means that you need to be on a decision maker’s radar screen before a need is defined and a job description developed (i.e., prior to a position being announced, advertised or publicly posted.) Hidden jobs are not secret openings; they are opportunities that develop in response to a challenge. The individual charged with solving the problem and has budgetary authority to fix it is your primary target contact for that new career opportunity. This may be the individual who currently has this assignment or it may be that person’s manager.

Let’s describe how you can put yourself at the head of the line for unadvertised roles, both as an internal candidate and as an external prospect who has penetrated the company’s inner circle and put themselves on the inside track to hidden jobs.

  1. The most commonly recognized hidden job is the one where the budget has been allocated but for a variety of reasons (timing, prioritization, inconvenience, internal communications, etc.,) the announcement has not been widely distributed. You have to know someone who is aware of this situation in order to access this unadvertised job.
  2. Another type of unadvertised opening is a position where the incumbent has plans to leave, ( a promotion, relocation, personal leave, etc.) but until their replacement is found, that person/that role is not going to be released. In such instances, there is never a vacancy. The position passes from the incumbent to their successor without any gap in coverage.
  3. The third unadvertised or hidden job opportunity type is known only to the hiring decision maker and their trusted inner circle; it’s a position that will be created when the team is reorganized or a merger or acquisition or other stealth process is completed. It’s a matter of when not if new talent is going to be brought in.
  4. Finally, there is the most prized of hidden job market opportunities: a position created for a specific individual that did not exist until an individual was available. Job responsibilities may be shifted to accommodate a new team member or a new role created designed to maximize an individual’s skills and abilities.


In every one of the examples above, the only way to be selected is to be chosen by the hiring decision maker or to be recommended to that individual as a suitable candidate by someone that the hiring authority knows, likes, and  trusts their endorsement. Since these opportunities are rare, you need to be part of the network before recruiting gets too far along. As you probably know, there is much advantage to being one of, if not the first, person recruited. Often in these situations, the chosen candidate is able to get in on the ground floor, write the job description that is perfect for them and only them (unique to their qualifications) and organize the rest of the team. This is not just a hidden job opportunity, but obviously a golden opportunity to design a good-fitting role and create a perfect position.

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