Four Ideas for Getting Interviews via the Hidden Job Market

Most of my job-search clients get interviews by tapping into the hidden job market; they are both reaching out to their network and cold-emailing/calling people they don’t know.  You, too will want to prioritize efforts that will allow you to bypass the glut of applicants going through job postings or recruiting firms.  Since ~20% of interviews are obtained via postings or search firms (from my and colleagues’ experience), spend only 20% of your valuable job search time on these methods. Focus your remaining time on the hidden job market.  The goal is to land lots of informational meetings with hiring decision-makers that could lead to interviews via referrals or your keeping in touch. Here are four ideas to get you started.

1. Send an email or LinkedIn message to your entire network asking for referrals.

Think broadly about your network – family, friends, colleagues from 10 years ago, your dentist, old professors, etc.  Include the following elements in your email:

  • Subject Line:   ‘Your Help Requested.’
  • Your “pitch” that states what you want to do and your value to an organization.
  • List the names of up to 25 organizations where you want to work at the bottom of the email.
  • Ask your network for contacts in any part of any of the organizations listed.
  • Let them know you will not be asking their contact for a job but rather a 10 minute conversation about how the company is organized and where you would fit down the road.
  • Make sure to “bcc” all the recipients — don’t expose their e-mail addresses!

My clients do this all the time with great results.  One client sent an email telling her entire network about her job search and her interest in leading a Financial Planning and Analysis group within Pharma.  Interestingly, the people she least expected to help her responded with the best leads.  In one case, her neighbor’s husband’s brother’s wife’s put her in touch with the CFO in a pharma company, which led to an interview.  And all because she included his neighbor in this email.

2. Make every meeting count!

Another client went through a long interview process at a large financial services firm.  In the end they chose someone else.  Undaunted, he called the hiring manager (before 9am, the only time the hiring manager would be at her desk) and asked  if other areas of the company would be interested in his experience.  This effort landed him with another interview in a different division.  Again they turned him down, and again he asked for a referral.  This process was repeated two more times!  The fourth time, he received a great job offer that he accepted.

3. Re-contact your network at least once a month to remind them of your search, so that you are top of mind should an opportunity arise.

For example, you could update your LinkedIn status or send individual emails.  The text for an individual email could be as simple as “Hope you’re doing well.  Thanks again for meeting with me last month.  Thought I would update you on my status.  While I am having conversations with many technology companies in the NYC vicinity, your company continues to remain a top choice.  If there is any additional information that I can provide that could help move the process forward, please let me know.”  Other options to keep top of mind: send a link to a useful article, or send an email with subject line “additional thoughts.”

4. Use LinkedIn to get informational meetings that could lead to interviews.

If you are not using LinkedIn for your job search, you are missing out! One idea from my book “Advanced LinkedIn: conduct advanced people searches using “All Filters” (click into the search box at the top, press enter, then select “All Filters” from the list of search options that appear).  Then, reach out to those with whom you want to connect via LinkedIn or by email (clients tend to get higher response rates using email).

Two client stories illustrate the power of this approach:

– Ellen wanted to work at Apple as a marketing executive.  She conducted a people search using advanced filters.  She entered Apple as the company name and selected “current” for currently employed at Apple.  She found an old classmate  she was connected to indirectly, that is, he was a 2nd degree connection, and worked at Apple in a related area.  She emailed him directly; he remembered her and referred her for an interview.

– Armando was searching for a senior level position, either as a COO or a direct report to one at a large organization.  He used advanced people search filters and included the word “Operations” in the job title field.  He saw he was indirectly connected to a COO at a large global technology company through two mutual connections.  He decided to email the COO directly, referring to their mutual LinkedIn connections in the email.  His efforts resulted in their meeting, which led to a series of interviews and a job offer.