Stop missing out on hidden jobs

Do you know the difference between being proactive and reactive? It’s the difference between applying to visible jobs posting vs. finding hidden job opportunities. This can make or break your early career.

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What if I told you that everything you think you know about the Internet is a lie?

You probably think that Google can help you find anything on the Internet. Just type in a search… right? Google lets you find obscure Reddit pages, a blog post from 7 years ago, and decades old research.

Well then, what can’t it find?

According to a research study published by Nature journal, Google can’t find 86% of the Internet.1

That means everything you know about the Internet — every page you’ve visited, article you’ve read, picture you’ve seen… is only 14% of what the Internet has to offer.

The rest of the 86% of the Internet is called the deep web, and it’s home to many strange things including hidden government information, cryptocurrencies, and illegal paraphernalia (drugs, fake legal documents, counterfeit money, etc.)

Amazing right?

Now, what if I told you that everything you think you know about finding a job/internship is a lie?

What… you didn’t think I was going to write about the deep web without giving some career advice?

Anyways, back to my analogy. Just as we all use Google to access almost everything on the Internet, we also use job postings to find almost every job/internship opportunity on the market. This includes LinkedIn job postings, your university career website, company career pages, and any other website you can think of.

But just like Google misses 86% of the content on the Internet….

Source: Nature Journal

these job postings only account for 20% of all the job opportunities out there.

Source: UC Berkeley Career Counselor David Woodward (data is approximate, actual percentages don’t matter)

By relying on job postings, you are missing 80% of the world’s job opportunities.

What are hidden jobs and why do they exists?

Why would hidden jobs even exist — don’t employers want to fill positions quickly?

Of course! Nobody is purposely hiding job postings from you. Yet, therein lies the nuance. Job postings may not be hidden, but job opportunities are.

But that doesn’t make sense! If there is a job opportunity, wouldn’t there be a posting?

Companies don’t immediately make job postings for its recruiting needs. Let’s look at the drawn-out process of posting a job.

  • Step 1: A specific team at the company feels constrained with its current headcount and wants to hire someone to help with the workload

*some time passes*

  • Step 2: Manager of team formalizes the decision. They need a new hire and now it’s a priority

*some time passes*

  • Step 3: Hiring manager forwards the need for a new hire to the internal recruiter and simultaneously looks within the team’s collective network for candidates (team members post on LinkedIn, Facebook, tell their friends, reach out to old colleagues, etc.) Over 50% of jobs are filled by internal candidates before the posting is ever made.2

*some time passes*

  • Step 4: Company recruiters tend to support many teams simultaneously. Inevitably emails are lost and time is wasted due to miscommunications with the hiring manager

*some time passes*

  • Step 5: Recruiter finally gets around to writing the job description and posting on company page and other job search websites.

Clearly there’s a lot more steps to hiring someone than meets the eye. Visible jobs — 20% of all jobs — are those that have made it to step 5 and were officially published by a recruiter.

Hidden jobs — 80% of all jobs — are those that reside in steps 1 through 4 and are slowly progressing to step 5 where they will become visible jobs.

If you are not focusing a large portion of your search on hidden jobs, you are missing out on lots of opportunities… 80% of all opportunities!

They key to taking advantage of hidden job opportunities is to constantly widen your network in a target industry or job function and ask people about job opportunities on their teams.

Be proactive to job opportunities, not reactive to job postings.

This works for internships and full-time jobs alike. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student with no experience looking to get your first resume bullet, or a seasoned professional with decades of experience.

To understand why this works, put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes. Imagine your team is constantly stressed and strapped for resources.

Just then, a student emails you asking to help out for the summer or school year as an intern. The student says she is eager to learn about the industry/job and will do anything to help the team to the best of her ability.

As the hiring manager, you will seriously consider the student’s candidacy if you believe that the extra productivity and satisfaction of having an intern outweighs the responsibility and time of managing one.

Just like that, the student with little work experience can slip her way into an internship while avoiding cut-throat competition with typical internship postings.

Did someone say c-c-competition?

Which brings me to the next reason for why you need to prioritize hidden jobs in your internship/job search: less competition.

Maybe your internship/job hunt goes like this: You get home from a long, tiring day. You realize you should be responsible and apply to some jobs. You go to a few of your favorite job posting websites (university career page, LinkedIn jobs, Indeed, etc.) and run searches on the keywords that best describe your ideal next job.

Awesome, five great fits. You upload your resume to all five and call it a day.

Sound familiar?

Guess what, there’s probably hundreds of millions of people worldwide doing the exact same thing. If that approach hasn’t been working for you, it’s because you are competing with thousands of other applicants for a given job posting — many of whom are more qualified than you on paper.

Source: UC Berkeley Career Counselor David Woodward

Relying on online job postings is a uphill battle. You’re much better off focusing your efforts on hidden jobs in steps 1 through 4.

Does this really work?

Yes! This is a 100% true reality of the job market and where opportunities really exists. Out of the six internships I had in college, four of them — 66% — were hidden jobs!

Many of my friends got their first handful of experiences through hidden job opportunities. Once they built-up their resumes full of experiences, they had a much easier time competing for prestigious and competitive well-known jobs.

I can confidently say I would not be where I am today professionally without those four internships. Are you going to hold your development and career trajectory back by not taking advantage of hidden jobs?

Bringing it all back

While you should pursue hidden job opportunities, don’t completely forget about job postings and on-campus recruiting. I recommend balancing all three methods in your job search.

To make this article actionable, here’s the step you need to take to land a hidden internship/job:

  1. Form your hypothesis about which industry or job function you want target
  2. Identify target companies that are likely to need extra help
    • This tends to work best with smaller companies, startups, nonprofits, research facilities, etc.
    • Here’s a guide that touches on how take advantage of hiring signals from companies
  3. Put together a spreadsheet and cold email decision makers at each company
  4. Once you get a few people on a call, establish a relationship and make the ask

That’s it! Follow those 4 steps and I guarantee you will find yourself landing more interviews.

Now stop reading this article and start searching for your next hidden job.

There’s more opportunity than meets the eye and it’s all at your fingertips right now.  

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