Are you only applying for advertised jobs? Did you know that your chances of securing a job could be greatly increased if you add some other methods to your job search?

The Hidden Job Market is reported to account for between 60 and 80 per cent of actual job opportunities available at any given time. If you’re only looking at advertised jobs, you could be looking at only 20 to 40 per cent of what’s really out there!

So what is the hidden job market and how do you access it? Wherever you go, be alert to meeting people and introducing yourself as someone seeking employment in your field. Actively engage in conversations with people you come in contact with on a day-to-day basis. Check out websites such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Linkedln and Zoominfo to research the current word on the street about employment opportunities or developments.

Joining relevant professional associations (e.g. a law society or local chamber of commerce) is a good way to network with people and find out the inside story in your field. Student memberships are often available at a discounted rate and attendance at association or industry events, conferences and seminars provides great opportunities to meet people in your intended industry. Search the internet for relevant associations and upcoming events in your field.

Don’t forget about people you already know who may be able to assist. Family members, friends, lecturers, tutors and colleagues or supervisors at current or past workplaces can all be useful contacts to chat to about your strengths, employment goals and strategies. Each of these people may know other people you could contact about informational interviewing, work shadowing or work experience.

Voluntary work experience for an organisation is a great way to get your foot in the door and display your skills and enthusiasm. If you can’t find work experience through people you already know, actively approach organisations you are interested in working for. Learn as much as you can about the organisation before you approach it so you can show genuine interest in its current projects and values. Talk about the skills and knowledge you have to offer and how you will benefit the organisation.

Work experience can also be a great chance to learn more about the different roles in your industry and may help you to identify where you want to work and the type of work you want to undertake.

Remember – people employ people!
It’s not just about what you know.
It’s not just about who you know.
It’s about what you know AND who you know.

In all the above cases, the following are essential:

  • Be ready to introduce yourself and talk about your qualifications or current study, future aspirations, work experience and areas of interest. Have a short introductory spiel prepared.
  • Don’t forget to listen to what the contact has to say and ask about that person’s career and work – you may like to take some notes on key details to refresh your memory prior to your next contact with them.
  • Have copies of your up-to-date résumé to hand over if it seems appropriate at the time.
  • Get yourself a business card – it’s a great way to remind people about meeting you.
  • Keep records of your contacts and keep in touch with them. Networking is as much about giving back to your contacts as it is about gaining from them.

(By Catherine Garino, Career Resource Officer, Queensland University of Technology Careers & Employment.)