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The Overlooked Job Market

Back in the days prior to the arrival of the Internet and World Wide Web, career counselors and job search experts would often talk about the "hidden job market." They were referring to exceptional employment opportunities that were difficult to find because they were seldom formally advertised. Instead, they were filled through informal strategies such as networking and employee referral. Therefore, while there were certainly other good jobs to be had, the key to a truly successful job search was to figure out how to crack into this hidden job market.

Today, the same is true and then some. Not only do we still have a hidden job market, but we now have an "overlooked job market," as well. This market includes very desirable jobs that are out there in plain sight on the Internet, but are seldom uncovered by the vast majority of job seekers. They are posted on job boards, but overlooked by those who are qualified to apply. Why does that happen? Because many job seekers don't know where to look.

As I've often noted, there are at least 40,000 job boards and career portals on the Internet. Because we are all susceptible to advertising and are often creatures of habit, however, we tend to limit our choices to a very small number of sites. The ones we typically use are:

  • those that are the best known because they are advertised the most and/or
  • those that we have always used, since we first began visiting job boards back in the last century.

Now, there's nothing wrong with using a site with which we're comfortable, but the job board population is an ever changing one, and stopping short of tapping its full dimensions virtually guarantees that we will overlook some great employment opportunities.

How can you probe the Overlooked Job Market? The best way is to develop a personal search algorithm that will enable you to look into every segment of the job board population that can potentially serve you. The following 5-step process will get you started.

Step 1: Probe the sites that focus on your career field. Use a browser such as Yahoo! or Google or your WEDDLE's Guide to identify and visit sites that specialize in employment opportunities for those in your specific profession, craft or trade.

Step 2: Probe the sites that focus on your industry. Use the same resources you used in Step 1 to identify and visit sites that specialize in that sector of the economy (e.g., telecommunications, financial services, hospitality) in which you have the strongest level of experience.

Step 3: Probe the sites that focus on your hometown. Use the same resources to identify and visit sites, including that of your local newspaper, that specialize in the geographic area where you live or want to.

Step 4: Probe the sites that focus on any special attribute you may have. Use the same resources to find sites that focus on your gender, ethnicity, age, national origin or any other characteristic (e.g., your status as a veteran, a physical challenge) that may distinguish you in the workforce.

Step 5: Develop your personal search algorithm for cracking into the Overlooked Job Market. Pick a single site in each of the categories above that best provides the kind of employment opportunities you seek (e.g., they're at the right salary level, from the employers for which you want to work). Then, pick two general purpose sites (i.e., those that provide employment opportunities in a wide range of career fields and industries) that meet the same criteria. Combine these two groups of sites into your personal search algorithm. It will look like this: 2GP + 4N where
  • 2GP represents the two general purpose sites you selected and
  • 4N stands for the four niche or specialty sites you identified.
Sure, it will take a little work to research the sites that you uncover. And to sustain the quality of your coverage of the Overlooked Job Market, you'll have to periodically review the entire job board population -- I recommend that you do it at least annually -- to ensure that you're still using the sites that will best serve you. 

Even then, the work's not done. What remains, of course, is to search the sites you've identified. You have to check them regularly to see what jobs are being posted there. Using a job agent can dramatically cut down on that effort, and I recommend that you use these agents if they're offered by the sites you've selected. However, such agents are far from perfect, so I also recommend that you visit the sites yourself at least weekly and conduct your own personal search of the jobs posted there. You can find an opportunity that doesn't exactly match the profile you've given your agent, but the agent cannot. And that human "in-site" is an integral part of your cracking into the Overlooked Job Market.

Finding a dream position is called a job search for a very good reason. You have to go beyond looking at what's immediately visible and available in well known places. Today, that means you have to be able to uncover both the Hidden and the Overlooked Job Market.

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Peter Weddle is a veteran as well as the author or editor of over two dozen employment-related books, including the recently released The Career Activist Republicand Work Strong, Your Personal Career Fitness System, one of the most innovative career success books in print. Both are available at Amazon.com.

Peter Weddle's Website

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