Career advice

How to get hired for the opportunities in the hidden job market

Browsing career websites and checking the employment pages of companies you admire are great ways to keep an eye out for opportunities that might be right for you. However, if you are serious about making a career move, those methods alone won’t connect you with all of the jobs that might be available. Not by a long shot. 

Experts estimate that anywhere between 40 per cent and 80 per cent of open jobs are never actually advertised to the public. This wealth of unposted opportunities is what is known as the hidden job market. These positions are most often filled through internal candidates, referrals, and proactively recruiting candidates from competitors. 

Sometimes, even jobs that are advertised fall into the 'hidden job market.' That is because the employer may have already filled the position – or at least selected their chosen candidate – through poaching or a referral before the position is even posted. Oftentimes, company policy dictates that a job ad must be placed for new hires, even if someone has already been chosen for the role. 

It can be more challenging to put your candidacy forward for these positions, since they either do not appear on any public websites or job boards at all or only appear after the hiring decision has been made, but tapping into this supply of opportunities can greatly increase your chances of landing the job you want.

Here's how you can go about accessing the hidden job market.


Networking and maintaining professional relationships with colleagues, former coworkers, and employers are important for a successful career. These are also your most effective strategies for gaining access to the hidden job market. Employers will almost always prefer to hire someone whom they already know and are confident can do the job – or someone who comes recommended by a trusted source. So, if you have a network of people you have worked with in the past who think well of your work ethic and abilities, these can be your inside source for finding jobs not advertised to the general public. 

Let your network know when you are open to – or actively looking for – new positions, but don't be selfish about it. Look for ways to help your network with their own projects and careers as well. The more people you can help be successful, the more successful you will be. 


Speaking of helping people, volunteering is another powerful way to expand your network and access more potential opportunities. Whatever field you are in, see if you can find a cause or an organization that can use help with the skills that you have. This gives you the opportunity to use your abilities and possibly learn some new ones, meet new people and expand your network, and add experience to your resume – all while contributing to a worthy cause.

Get social 

You should also consider joining social groups or activities in your community. People like to work with those they know and like to help out their friends and neighbours. Interacting with more people both professionally and socially has clear benefits for your career. Plus, it's good for our physical and mental health to get out of the house and see other people on a regular basis. 

Maintain your online presence 

Keep your online profiles up to date. Maintaining an active LinkedIn presence is an easy way to keep in touch with former coworkers and connections. Sharing industry updates and insights on your various online platforms shows that you are keeping up with the latest news and trends from your sector and allows you to be a part of the conversation. Even better, consider hosting your own blog or website to showcase your thoughts or portfolio of work. Potential employers will Google candidates and look up their social media profiles to get a first impression of a potential hire. The more active you are and the easier you are to find, the greater your chances of being top-of-mind for an unadvertised position. 

Reach out

If you have one or two dream companies that you would love to work for – and they are not advertising for any open positions in your field – you can still proactively reach out to them. Follow the organizations' social media accounts and interact with their posts. Read the company website and blog for insights into the company culture and activities. Watch out for hints that they may be growing or starting a new initiative. 

Consider writing to the department head directly. Send an email that explains your affinity for the company and mentions your top selling points as a candidate for their team. You can also offer to send in a full resume and ask to be considered for any potential openings that come up in the near future. 

Here's an example: 

Hello Employer, 

Congratulations on your latest product launch. I have been a fan of your brand and services since being introduced to your company in 2017. I am writing to introduce myself to you in the hopes that you would consider adding me to your team if potential opportunities arise. 

I have a background in [your field], and I've headed up the [your work] for many well-known brands over the past 15 years. I am always looking to work with companies whose products and services I truly believe in. That's why I am reaching out to you. I feel that I could be an asset to the team and an ambassador for the brand.

Please let me know if you would like to see a full resume or samples of my recent work. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my letter and hopefully consider me as a potential candidate for your current or future roles. 

Best regards,

The timing may be right. Your cold approach email could land on the desk of someone who is actively hiring. Or you might make yourself the go-to candidate if the department needs to recruit someone for the team in the coming weeks or months. Companies prefer to hire people they know, but they also prefer to hire candidates who are enthusiastic about working for them specifically. These tend to be more motivated workers. Your affinity for the brand could give your chances a boost. 

See more about how to write a letter of interest to an employer you want to work for.

While it can be harder to find opportunities in the hidden job market, once you connect with an open position, you actually stand a better chance of being hired. This is because there is less competition for these jobs. When an opening is posted online, the hiring manager could receive thousands of applications. Your resume could easily be lost in the deluge. Companies recruiting for unadvertised positions, on the other hand, have far fewer candidates to consider. 

You can add yourself to that shortlist by using and expanding your network, showcasing your skills and abilities, and reaching out to the organizations you are passionate about contributing to. 

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