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, want to prioritize efforts that will allow you to bypass the glut of applicants going through job postings or recruiting firms.  Spend only 20% of your valuable job search time on postings and recruiting firms, and the remainder on the hidden job market.  Here are four ideas to get you started.

1. Send an email (or LinkedIn/Facebook message, etc.) to your entire network asking for referrals.

Think broadly about your network –- aim for 200 people initially (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.  For example, Jerome sent an email telling his entire network about his job search and his interest in Pharmaceutical Marketing in New Jersey.  Interestingly, the people he least expected to help him responded with the best leads.  In one case, his neighbor’s wife’s brother put him in touch with the CFO in a pharma company, which led to an interview for a CMO role.  And all because he included his neighbor in this email.

2. Make every meeting count!

Elena went through a long interview process at a large financial services firm.  In the end they chose someone else.  Undaunted, Elena 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 her experience.  This effort landed Elena with another interview in a different division.  Again they turned her down, and again she asked for a referral.  This process was repeated two more times!  The fourth time, she received a great job offer that she 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, post on Facebook, or send individual emails.  The text for an individual email could be as simple as “Hope you’re doing well.  I really enjoyed our meeting last month!  Thought I would update you on my status.  While I am meeting 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.  Have a great day.”  Other options to keep top of mind: send a link to a useful article, or send “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! My book “Advanced LinkedIn contains step by step approach to getting set up and using on LinkedIn.  Here are some quick ideas from the book.

Step 1: Get set up for free on LinkedIn ( by:

1) building an accomplishment-oriented profile,

2) building your “1st degree” network of people you know, even if only distantly (as long as you think they’d be open to helping you),

3) and joining relevant LinkedIn groups.

Step 2: Conduct people searches using “All Filters” (click in the search box at the top, then select “People” and click enter, then click on “All Filters”)  to find people you want to contact.  Then, reach out to them 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 Computer 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.  To her surprise and delight, 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 directing a marketing analytics group.  He used advanced people search filters and included the word “Marketing” in the job title field.  He saw he was indirectly connected to a CMO through both a LinkedIn Group and two mutual connections.  He decided to email the CMO 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.