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How to reach the Hidden Job Market: Why clicking the apply button isn’t enough

No Apply

Don’t just click the apply button. You’re wasting precious job search time.

If you’re like most job seekers I talk with, you will conduct your job search like this:

  1. Visit a job board.
  2. Search for the job title in which you are interested.
  3. Click the apply button for those that appear in your search results.
  4. Wait and see what happens.
  5. Complain to your friends that there aren’t any good jobs out there and that employers never get back to anyone.

This is what’s wrong with that picture:

  • Clicking the apply button gives you at best a 10% chance at that job.
  • You immediately put yourself in competition with hundreds and perhaps even thousands of other applicants.
  • Most jobs – 85% or even higher – aren’t posted. This constitutes the notorious “Hidden Job Market.”
  • You’re right about one thing: Most employers don’t notify candidates who are not invited for interviews, so “waiting and seeing” is another way to say “giving up.”

An even bigger glimpse of the future of clicking the apply button happened in June when giant retailer Zappos stopped posting job openings. Their rationale? Job postings aren’t good for conversations.

“A job posting is that bright shiny object in the room that distracts from the real conversation and networking to be had, said Stacy Zapar, Zappos’ candidate experience and engagement strategist, in a recent article in Recruiter.com. “It’s a dead-end road, a recruiting black hole where applicants go to die or leave with a negative experience and impression of your company. They’re one-way conversations where your candidates don’t really have a voice. They’re that sore thumb sticking out as we make this evolution back to old-school, relationship-based recruiting,” Zapar concluded.

This may or may not be a trend. Even Zappos is keeping job descriptions for its technical positions as a control group while they try out more conversational ways of interacting with candidates. In addition,  in 75%+ of companies, Applicant Tracking Systems (computers that scan and sort resumes) rule the front end of hiring with a computerized iron fist, with many companies now requiring electronic applications from even executives.

Nonetheless, in an increasingly interactive, Twitter-populated, Facebook-powered, and Linked-In-connected world, conversation is the currency. The good news is candidates who are willing to take the initiative have a more direct line to their target company, even in a hidden job market.

Stay tuned for strategies to help you reach that elusive Hidden Job Market.


Worn out from searching for jobs that don’t quite fit? Tired of waiting for employers who never reply? Mystified by job search strategies that aren’t working? Email me at Jeri@WorkwriteResumes.com to schedule a real, live conversation about what is and isn’t right with your job search.



Photo credit: No symbol by Fibonacci (Own work (from Unicode)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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