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The Hidden Job Market

Effective job hunting demands a proactive approach where you track down potential openings and actively follow up on leads. Too often job hunters simply don’t know where else to look after they finish with the want ads in the Sunday newspapers. To get your search rolling you need to find good jobs to apply for.

So what websites are worth visiting? What techniques are most effective?

Here are the three most effective way to uncover leads for good jobs.

  1. Conduct some job market research.

    Analyze what job title you seek, and where the best opportunities lie for you. Make a list of at least 20 organizations to investigate for possible openings. To develop your list, use business journals, annual reports, trade magazines, association listings, yellow pages and business directories, many of which can be found at your local library. Check out Hoover’s Handbook of American Business, The Thomas Registers, Million Dollar Directory, as well as Standard and Poor’s Registry of Corporations, Directors and Executives. Note the company name, address, telephone number, website and the email of a contact person. Your goal is to reach the hiring manager — your potential boss — not the Human Resources Department.

  2. Go to the company website first.

    The Internet has thousands and thousands of job openings. The big trick is not spending all your time just finding them. The Society for Human Resource Managers reports that 86% of all companies put their current openings on their own website. Start there.

  3. Network.

    Two-thirds of all jobs are found by obtaining a lead through contacts. Ask family, friends, colleagues, and college alumni associations for assistance in tracking down job openings, manager names and potential opportunities in your list of companies. Add new companies that they may bring to your attention. Your objective is to connect with someone inside the company who can internally pass on your resume or application.

Action Step: Mail out self-marketing letters. Once you have identified the companies you are interested in, mail (as in postal mail) a targeted letter to the manager that would most likely be your boss. Write a short paragraph that concisely outlines your strongest skills and accomplishments. Then tell them you will be calling in a few days to learn more about their current needs. Attach your resumé. Follow up and call in a week. Be prepared to sell yourself on the spot if you reach the potential boss (not HR). If nothing is available ask if that manager may have heard about something appropriate for you. Many clients have found good leads with that one question.

Don't get discouraged if it seems like a lot of effort with no quick results. This process takes time, but it does uncover excellent jobs.

-Robin Ryan

America's most popular career counselor, Robin Ryan, is the author of four bestselling books: 60 Seconds & You're Hired!, Winning Resumes, Winning Cover Letters, and What to Do with the Rest of Your Life. She's appeared on over a thousand TV & radio shows including Oprah, Dr. Phil, and has been published in most major newspapers and magazines including USA Today & the Wall Street journal. Contact her at 425.226.0414; email:

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© Copyright 2005 Robin Ryan. All rights reserved.