Network your way into the hidden job market (before you really need to)

Peter Harris|

I hear a lot about networking in my line of work, and it brings up images of nametags, schmoozing handshakes and palming business cards. I think all of that misses the point. Here are my thoughts on networking done right.

Most experts agree that only 15-20% of all available jobs are actually advertised to the public. Networking is the best way to tap into the vast supply of opportunities known as the ‘hidden job market.’ With such a large percentage of jobs going unadvertised, word-of-mouth referral is among the surest way to land a new job. These referrals come from your network.

Your network is made up of everyone that you know. This is why it is important to have clear career goals and to let the people in your life know where it is that you want to go. You never know who can help, or who knows someone who can help.

Start now and keep it up

Some experts say that ‘networking’ is not necessarily a ‘job search’ activity. This is because you cannot suddenly find yourself out of work and immediately ‘network’ your way into a new opportunity if you haven’t already been networking all along.

This doesn’t mean that you have to be attending industry conferences and swapping business cards (although doing some of that certainly isn’t a bad idea.) What you need to have is a built-up set of professional connections who think highly of your work and abilities in your field, who would love to work with you or recommend you to others. This is achieved through the connections you make in school, while working, in your community activities and on social networks. It is accomplished through authentic interactions, and it takes time to build a genuine and powerful network.

Just as the best time to look for a job is when you already have one, if you don’t start your networking activities until you’re out of work, you will have a harder time making the connections that can land you your next job.

Networking essentials:

  • You should also be willing to help others us much as you can as often as you can. Networking is a two way street – and people remember those who went out of their way to help them in the past. Pay it forward.
  • Keep in touch with your network. People stop taking phone calls from someone who only contacts them when they need something. So update your connections with what is going on with you, and make genuine inquiries about how they’re doing.
  • Have a short ‘elevator speech’ ready. This is a short couple of sentences that describe your career accomplishments and goals in a conversational manner. It’s just enough for you to summarize your expertise and career path in a brief and friendly way should someone ask you to.
  • Make sure your social network information matches your resume. You don’t want to claim a degree on your application that your Facebook or LinkedIn profiles show that you don’t have. (See the What most employers think you’re lying about (and what you should actually lie about).) Employers have also been known to double check that the dates of employment you list in your resume match with your profiles.

Most of all, it is important to be genuine. Networking isn’t about collecting business cards and schmoozing. It’s about having a positive professional reputation and being in touch with lots of people who respect that about you.

(Another way to tap into a hidden job market is by having up-to-date professional online profiles and posting a searchable resume on Workopolis. Recruiters search our site 16,000 times a day for candidates – often sourcing for jobs that are never advertised.)

Peter Harris
Peter Harris on Twitter

Category: Job Search Strategies
  • Robin Babu

    I agree with the writer. The key is to establish and nurture key contacts. Just about anyone can become a contact: Friends, friends of friends, relatives, co-workers,
    neighbors, a former boss–and even profs from your old school. Can help one to fetch a job.
    kurian and robin

  • Jilu Elizabeth Mathew

    It’s a great surprise to realise that only 15-20% of all available jobs are actually advertised to the public. If networking can help us to come to know about the 80% of the hidden-unadvertised jobs, it is very important for us to build up professional connections through authentic interactions and thus establishing a positive professional reputation.


    I agree with this article. It is a fact that majority of jobs are not been advertised. So the best way to find this kind of job is marketing. Stay connected with friends from school, colligues, members from the community and friend from social network are some of the best ways for it.

  • Anand Kumar

    I agree with the author. He says that only 15 to 20 % of available jobs are actually posted to the public.Also word-of-mouth referral is among the surest way to land a new job, and networking is the best way to tap into the vast supply of opportunities known as the hidden job market.

  • vinish baby

    I agree with this article . It says both the importance of creating social connections as well as how it should be maintained.I personally felt that social networking is best searching tool for a job rather than other measures.

  • Abin Abraham

    This article is very relevant. Social networking is a tool to tackle jobs as well as it shows one’s genuinness,ability to maintain social contacts and positive professionalism.So i strongly agree with the writer.

  • Robi paul

    Networking is a sort of interaction. it is being considered as one of the most affective job searching tool. the articles provides with details regarding the vast supply of hidden job markets. neworking keep them updated about the new opportunities and helps candidates to find the best place to build thier carrier.

  • Mehul Jagawat

    I agree that one of the primary ways to find jobs in the hidden job market is to network with personal contacts. Word-of-mouth is another promotional strategies to adverstise jobs. Networking, however can be a mutually beneficial process.

  • Manthan Sunil Bhayani

    I agree with this article and the fact that not all jobs are
    advertised. My personal experience with Linked has got me many online
    freelance jobs. Networking help more in landing jobs than the traditional

  • Navreet Kaur

    Networking is very essential as it helps you in gettine a job if you have good connection with people. It is necessary to be in touch with people and help them whenever you can.

  • Anisha Jaimon

    Iagree with this article .It shows the true facts happening in the job market.Social networking became an essential part of career because it gives an overall nature of the person that reflects professionalism.