The Hidden Job Market in the UK

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The Hidden Job Market in the UK

A man looking for work in a Job Centre

There is an excellent Entry in h2g2 about ways to find work and it touches on what is known as the 'hidden job market'. The hidden job market is something I wasn't aware of myself when I was unemployed, but I learned about its existence when I was looking to shift careers recently, so I decided to find out more.

The internet is a really useful tool for finding jobs, especially in public sector areas such as councils, schools and universities where they have a duty to follow equality and diversity guidelines in recruiting. However, it is estimated that up to 70% of all job vacancies are never advertised publicly.

Another interesting statistic I found is that 99% of businesses in the UK are SMEs (Small- or Medium-sized Enterprises). Such businesses may not have the resources to be able to do much recruitment advertising, but will still have vacancies from time to time.

When I was a jobseeker for a couple of years, the Jobcentre advised me to concentrate my efforts on large, mostly public sector, companies as I'm disabled. However, just because guidelines in recruitment are visibly followed or not, doesn't mean that a company or public sector organisation will or won't be able to accommodate equality and diversity factors in the workplace. Even disabled people and people with other specific requirements may find suitable opportunities in the hidden job market (and conversely, may struggle to find suitable opportunities in the visible job market).

One key tip I found for tapping into the hidden job market is something I inadvertently took advantage of during my jobseeking in what was ostensibly the visible job market. Getting to know a company you think you'd like to work for is important, so you are more likely to spot when vacancies might be arising, and will have something to talk about if you're invited to interview. I applied for jobs in a few different departments of two large companies, so I gathered a range of information about the companies as a whole from the company websites, from the job descriptions, and from the experiences when I was invited to interview. This tactic eventually led to success, as I accessed a new vacancy as soon as it was advertised online, giving me plenty of time to prepare my application and think about the questions that might be asked at interview. I recognised some of the people I encountered on my way to the interview so I felt less nervous, and then became the 'preferred candidate' so I got the job.

Technology has moved on since the days when I was looking for work. Another key tip I found is to make use of networking tools such as LinkedIn. As well as enabling people to connect to people who might know someone who might know something that can help, LinkedIn contains information about companies, so you can find out who are the best contacts within organisations for you to be able to find out more information directly.

Once you have more information about an organisation that operates in the hidden job market, another key tip is to send a speculative CV with cover letter, so that the company will have your details when they next need to recruit. In the same way that online application forms have to be completed differently for different jobs, highlighting how your skills and experience match the specific requirements, the CV needs to be tailored to highlight to the organisation the skills and experience you have that they will be likely to need.

Fellow h2g2ers – have you heard of the hidden job market in the UK? If you're not in the UK, are you aware of a similar hidden job market where you are? Do you have any other tips for how to access it? Tell me more by starting a conversation on this Entry!

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