Jobs in the hidden market are much better than the jobs listed in the public market.

The point of this article by Lou Adler is that job-seekers should only spend 20% of their time working the job boards and most of it networking.

The sequence of steps companies use to fill jobs is shown in the second graph. Based on some of our semi-scientific analysis (public and private survey data) it appears that about half of all jobs are filled in each market.This is good news to job-seekers, but you can’t get to these jobs by applying.

Here’s why:

Jobs in the public market are filled by matching skills listed in the job posting with those found on the resume. At best, this is a poor process, and why most jobs in the public market take so long to fill.

Jobs in the hidden market are filled based on internal promotions, referrals and recommendations, with candidate’s being assessed on their past performance and future potential.

For job-seekers who aren’t perfect matches on skills and experience this is great news, but to get the chance to be evaluated this way you need to be recommended by someone in your network.

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Lou Adler suggest 20/20/60 job hunting strategy should be used by job-seekers.

  • 20% of the time responding to job postings by going through the back door rather than applying through the front.
  • Another 20% ensuring your resume and LinkedIn profile are easy to find and worth reading,
  • The remaining 60% networking to find jobs in the hidden market.

In another post he described in detail what job-seekers need to do to improve their networking skills. Rather than repeat the techniques.

Just repeat the theme: being referred to a hiring manager by a trusted person is 50-100X more likely to result in being interviewed and hired compared to submitting a resume to a posted job.

A big plus: since recommended candidates are judged largely on their past performance and future potential, it opens up the door to diverse candidates, returning military veterans, high potential candidates, and any good person who isn’t a perfect match on skills and experiences.

Better still: jobs in the hidden market are much better than the jobs listed in the public market!

Consider that jobs in the public market represent lateral transfers for the fully-qualified people described. Jobs in the hidden market represent promotions, stretch jobs and career opportunities. Just look at the job descriptions posted in the public market as proof. They’re no more than long-winded help wanted ads offering equivalent jobs to fully qualified people who are somehow willing to endure the demeaning obstacle course. This is not to say that some of these job aren’t actually great jobs, but they’re written to weed out the weak, not attract the best.

While the job market is not as robust as it could be, it’s not as bad as reported (US job market). That’s why it’s important for job-seekers to play more of the hiring game in the hidden market. Also these jobs are frequently modified to take better advantage of a person’s strengths, rather than force-fitting the person to a pre-defined role.

Networking is the entry-point into the hidden job market, It is hard work, but necessary work for those that want to get a job they deserve or a better job than the one they have now. The alternative is to complain. Which hardly ever works.


Lou Adler (@LouA) is the Amazon best-selling author of Hire With Your Head (Wiley, 2007) and the award-winning 

His latest book, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired, is now available on Amazon. The Full Article wasFeatured on:Recruiting & Hiring