How can I discover my career

Hidden job market: tips for looking for a job

Not every vacant position ends up openly and as a job advertisement in a job exchange. Studies - for example by the Institute for Labor Market Research (IAB), which is part of the Federal Labor Office - have determined that only 35 percent of vacancies appear on the labor market. The rest is traded on the so-called hidden job market (also called "hidden job market"). That means: The positions are filled “under the palm of the hand” - not by public advertisement, but by vitamin B, through networks, recommendations and personal contacts. Bad luck for those who have no relationships? Not quite. We'll show you how, with the right strategy, you can still benefit from the hidden job market and find your dream job ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Hidden job market: what is it actually?

Many applicants learn after a relatively short time that the application process is not easy:

  • Either, despite an intensive search, no suitable position can be found to which one could apply
  • or there is a hailstorm - despite 50 or even 100 applications, one rejection after the other and the motivation is already in the basement after a short time due to the lack of success.

If it doesn't work with traditional applications, it can help to concentrate on the previously mentioned hidden job market. The so-called hidden job market is definitely part of the job market, but you cannot easily see it. These are positions for which you cannot even apply because you do not know anything about it and (actually) also cannot know: They are never advertised publicly in a job exchange.

Why don't employers advertise jobs?

The reason for this is simply the cost and the success rate.

  • On the one hand, it is cheaper for companies not to have to place (and manage) job advertisements. At the same time, the HR managers don't have to read through meter-high stacks of applications to screen out the right candidates. That saves time and money.
  • On the other hand, it is the case that positions that are filled via a recommendation or a relationship have a significantly lower risk of being filled incorrectly than if the candidates come via a neutral job advertisement. You already know each other a little or there are advocates who know both parties and can mediate. This also often saves time and money.

Even the hidden job market offers no guarantee for the best cast. But the success rate here - from the company's point of view - is significantly higher. That is why around two thirds of the vacancies have ended up there for years.

Discover and open up the hidden job market for yourself

Focusing on the hidden job market when looking for a job can therefore help you to discover vacancies for which there are hardly any competitors (which improves your chances mathematically) as well as to get hold of positions that - actually - would not be possible .

To use the potential of the hidden job market, however, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • In particular, (higher) management positions are rarely found in traditional job advertisements. For managers and their various functions, the covert job market can therefore pay off particularly well and open doors for you that other candidates may not even notice. Studies show: Around 70 percent of all management positions in Germany are filled through personal contacts.
  • Popular employers are often very busy. It is not uncommon for several thousand applications to be received for an advertised position. The job opportunities are correspondingly low. The way over the hidden job market - for example by speculative application - is therefore a little more successful. The chances are even greater with less well-known companies.

How is it that positions are not advertised publicly?

In addition to the costs already mentioned, there is another - quite banal - reason for hidden positions: employees quit or leave at short notice. There is such a thing as a natural fluctuation in every company. Every five to ten years employees like to change jobs and companies. Or they have an accident, become ill and consequently incapable of working. Or - more positively - the company is growing. In all cases there is a need for personnel at short notice. For HR managers this means stress: The positions have to be filled as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Classic job advertisements take an average of six to eight weeks (often longer) until the vacancy is advertised and filled.

Who exactly applies in this time window and attracts attention has the best chance of being the only applicant for the vacancy. And if both fit together, the position will of course never be advertised again - at most pro forma, because there are corresponding processes and requirements.

Hidden job market: that's why it's worth trying

If you use the hidden job market for your job search, you must - as with a normal application for a job advertisement - expect that you will also receive rejections. Since there is no specific job advertisement for your application, it can happen that the HR manager is impressed by your application documents, but really doesn't have any vacancies at the moment.

But that is not an argument against unsolicited applicationsOn the contrary: you have already established direct contact with the company, and many HR managers will later remember promising candidates well when a position does become vacant internally. Maybe in a few years another door will open up for you that you haven't even thought about.

In addition, there are other advantages why you should use the hidden job market:

  • You have less competition

    When applying for a regular job advertisement, you are only one of many candidates. On the hidden job market, there is essentially no competition, and sometimes you are even the only unsolicited applicant.

  • They increase your reach

    Due to the hidden job market, companies often come into view that you did not notice when you were looking for a job because they did not post any job advertisements. In short: You apply "anyway" to your personal dream employer.

  • The boss himself reads

    In the case of small and medium-sized companies in particular, you can also - very cheekily - address the cover letter directly to the boss. If there is no job posting, he or she will not pass it on to the HR department, but read the application himself. If you gain his sympathy, you will already have at least one foot in the door.

Hidden job market: tips for finding a job

But how can you use the hidden job market for your job search? The good news is, it's actually easier than many think. The bad: It still makes work and needs the right strategy. First of all, you should narrow down the industries, companies and positions that are suitable (for you) for this. Otherwise it can quickly get out of hand and you run the risk of getting bogged down. The best thing to do is to make a list of the companies you would like to work for and put them in order: first, the employers with suitable vacancies; then those without a specific advertisement, but where you believe that your qualifications will be in demand; Finally, the companies for which you currently do not expect great opportunities, but which are definitely among the employers of choice.

Have you got an overview?, you have three options to actively use the hidden job market for your job search:

  1. Write a blind application

    With the so-called blind application, you had no contact with the potential employer before. So you send your application documents - literally - blindly. In the beginning, a simple short application consisting of a cover letter and a tabular résumé is often sufficient. If you arouse interest and receive positive feedback, the company will probably ask for your complete documents.

  2. Write an unsolicited application

    In the case of a so-called speculative application, you already know a contact person in the company at least once, for example because you had contact via the Internet or met at a job and career fair. The advantage here: You can structure the application in a more personal and targeted manner and thus increase your chances again.

  3. Use a target group letter

    The so-called target group letter can also be used to score points on the hidden job market. This is an application strategy in which you specifically apply your strengths and competencies to companies where you believe you can use them profitably. This path can be particularly interesting for candidates who, for example, want to change their area of ​​activity and therefore do not fit into the classic applicant's grid.

In addition, there is a passive strategy how you can (not only) open up the hidden job market for yourself:

  1. Use social media

    Present yourself with your profile and your qualifications on business networks such as Xing or LinkedIn or at least optimize your findability there. The same goes for Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Even if these are more private networks, more and more companies and their recruiters are getting involved (keyword: active sourcing). Not least because of the increasing shortage of skilled workers.

  2. Publish a professional blog

    Hardly any other medium gives you as much virtual attention and reach as a well-run blog. No question about it, a specialist blog is work and the structure is more of a lengthy story than a snap shot. But the investment is worthwhile for a lifetime and even has the potential to increase your market value over the long term.

  3. Grow your network

    And not just by generally engaging in targeted networking, but by entering yourself and your profile (and résumé) in applicant databases or establishing contact with professional personnel consultants (attention: there are also so-called CV dealers!). You can also inform your private environment about the job search and thus increase your visibility.

Hidden job market: How to increase the response

As with other applications, it happens again and again that you do not receive any replies to your cover letter on the hidden job market.

This is very impolite on the part of employers and doesn't really speak for their professionalism. But instead of complaining in frustration, you should see this as an opportunity to follow up again and draw attention to yourself again. However, you should not appear demanding or desperate.

Ask kindly whether your application has been received and whether you are interested in working with us. With this you again show your serious interest and will be remembered positively. Even in the event of a rejection, you can use a phone call to find out what might have been the cause. Even if HR professionals concerned about the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG) often remain vague here or make no statements at all, you can at least try to read between the lines in order to optimize your application strategy and documents.

[Photo credit: pzAxe ,steigele by]

Further sources and guides
Application tips
➠ Application templates
➠ 11 application forms
➠ ABC of application tips
➠ Application folder
➠ Application photo
➠ cover sheet
➠ Brief profile

Tips on the résumé
➠ CV in tabular form
➠ Resume templates
➠ Internships on the résumé
➠ hobbies on the resume
➠ Unemployment on the résumé
➠ gaps in the résumé

Tips for covering letters
➠ Cover letter
➠ Introductory sentence in the cover letter
➠ Final sentence in the cover letter
➠ Interests in the cover letter
➠ Strengths in the cover letter
➠ Attachment directory

Tips on the job reference
➠ Assess job reference
➠ Secret codes in the certificate
➠ Interim report
➠ Job description
➠ References & samples

Special applications
➠ Unsolicited application
➠ Internal application
➠ Discreet application
➠ Email application
➠ Online application
➠ Application as a temporary worker
➠ Application for mini jobs
➠ Application after termination