What Is The ‘Hidden Job Market?’
80% of jobs can’t be found online, Career Expert Sam Struan explains what you can do to get your piece of that pie.
This article orginally appeared in The Post-Grad Survival Guide Magazine. Get the full version by downloading it now!
Getting a job at Apple is hard. Getting a job at Apple with the name “Sam Sung,” is even harder.
Yet that’s exactly what my friend (now named Sam Struan) did.
If you didn’t look any closer at his LinkedIn profile, you wouldn’t even notice that someone saw his “Sam Sung” nametag, snapped a picture, and single-handedly launched Sam into the national spotlight because of it. Soon thousands of people were retweeting the image, and Sam got to appear on TV, the Huffington Post, and raised $2,653 for the Make-A-Wish foundation because of all the hooplah.
In fact, he had representatives from Huffington storm into his store and press him for information.
You wouldn’t even notice. It took months of corresponding with him over phone, email, and LinkedIn for him to mention it. He shies away from it, and he should, because there’s so much more to this man’s story.
He hails from Glasgow, a beautiful city in Southwest Scotland. He has a pretty thick Scottish accent, too, and it hasn’t faded at all even though he’s lived in Vancouver for the last five years.
Speaking of Scotland, their official animal is the unicorn, which is fitting because Sam specializes in helping professionals chase something that, until now, they didn’t know existed.
I’m talking about the Hidden Job Market.
“Basically all of the jobs in a given market like a city, or a country — up to 80 percent of them are hidden,” he says. “Hidden in the sense that 80 percent of them can’t be found online.”
I leaned in like I was listening to a modern Scottish folk tale. They aren’t there? What sort of magic do I need to unlock this hidden world of career opportunity? I thought.
In a universe where there was an Apple employee named Sam Sung, the magic might seem closer than you think.
I hate to call Sam the wizard here. For one he doesn’t have a beard, or a staff, but like Gandalf he knows how to navigate some pretty treacherous territory — the bumpy terrain of our professional careers.
“The last thing you should do is apply for jobs,” he begins. “I know that sounds completely messed up. Applying for jobs is a complete waste of time. That’s one of the biggest things I learned about tapping into the job market and landing those key roles.”
This is a shock, right? Keep in mind that Sam has worked for companies like Lululemon, Apple, and Canada’s largest privately owned recruitment firm. He flew 3,000+ miles from Glasgow to Vancouver — a city where he knew nobody — and doubled his salary within a year.
This is his method.
Luckily he took some time out during the call to speak directly to recent graduates.
“For graduates the best thing that I could recommend is number one, check your ego,” he begins.
“There’s going to be a misalignment of the work that you want to do and the work that is going to be available to you. Step two is to sign up for a temporary recruitment agency. Temp positions are the lowest buyers into professional work, or even warehouse work. So, jobs like Office Admin, Office Support, HR Assistants, or just general Administrative Support are what you’ll be looking for.”
“The goal is not to become a temp worker for the rest of your days — the goal is to get your foot in the door and start building your network of people who make hiring decisions. The work is probably going to be shitty, you might be putting labels on envelopes, you might be doing data entry, or building up a database.
Some of the work is actually pretty interesting, but that isn’t important. What’s important is meeting hiring managers, building relationships with people who might hire you in the future, and starting to build your brand as a professional.”
If you’re struggling to find anything, temp work is the way to go. It gets you on your feet, helps you network, and builds your resume. Pretty soon you can use your network to get referrals.
“With the exception of Lululemon, every job I’ve ever had, I was referred. So getting a job at Apple, the headhunting firms I worked for, most of the job interviews I’ve been on have been via word of mouth or me asking someone that I kind of knew for a referral.”
And there’s the problem. We as recent graduates know networking is important. We heard our college professors talk about it all the time. But let me ask you, how do you go about it?
Go to a networking event? Social media? What do you say, though? How do you actually write a tweet, email, or LinkedIn message that wins your subject’s attention?
“Everyone says ‘build your network, it’s all about who you know,’ but nobody is teaching graduates HOW to do that part — or even professionals HOW to build those networks.”
“And that’s what I do,” Sam says. “I teach people how to leverage their existing network, how to make those ‘asks,’ and how to navigate building relationships with key decision makers.”
Applying for jobs is like kicking rocks sometimes. That’s because there’s sometimes thousands of other applicants. How can I compete against that?
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