Hello, new job seeker! I’ve been reading a great book. It’s called Designing Your Life. In it, the authors take design principles and apply it to living a happier, more satisfying professional life. Very smart thinking. They also offer up a job search tip or two on how to tap into the hidden job market. Which is what today’s post is all about.s
The DYL guys sum up that element of the market like this: “the hidden job market that’s only available to people who are already connected into the web of professional relationships in which that job resides.”
Ooof. Great sentence!
So, how do you get into that world? Here are four quick thought-starters:
Build a network
Uh, yeah! But how do you go about doing that? Lots of great writing out there about this kind of thing, and I encourage you to explore many perspectives on how to increase the group of people you know. Some quick thoughts:
- Reinvent how you look at the word. It’s both a noun and a verb. When I helped ad agencies win new business, I wrote a post about networking as a verb. To sum that up, it ain’t about you. It’s about helping someone else.
- Consider using relationship valentines. Here’s something written from the recruiter’s perspective. But you as a job seeker need to do the same thing (keep on people’s proverbial radar screens). What can you share that’s relevant to agency recruiters and hiring managers?
- Keep your “you” in mind. Reflect your own brand. Don’t do anything that feels really uncomfortable and that wouldn’t make your mother proud.
If you’re looking for a new job, a larger network represents a pipeline of intel, relationships and connections that lead to referrals that can get you hired.
Conduct informational interviews at target ad agencies
The smart guys at Designing Your Life call these prototype conversations. Sounds much sexier and less business-y, right? So have that proverbial cup of coffee conversation with the idea of learning someone else’s story. Because most people love talking about themselves. You’ll walk away with a better understanding of the agency, their role…and a potentially valuable connection.
Sometimes those conversations turn into job opportunities. But let that happen organically. But i it doesn’t, think about asking this towards the end of the conversation…
The more I learn about XYZ and the more people I meet here, the more fascinating it becomes. I wonder, Joe, what steps would be involved in exploring how someone like me might become part of this organization?” (source: DYL)
Asking it this way is more friendly and less interview-y, and gives the respondent lots of ways to positively answer the question.
One thing I’d add here is that if you’re new to informational interviews, prepare and practice.
- Prepare by knowing the questions you want to ask and demonstrate you’ve done some homework about the agency, the role and the person with whom you’re speaking.
- Practice via road-test. Insert your analogy here – Broadway, major league baseball or brain surgery. Hone your conversation-building skills and ability in low pressure situations BEFORE you put yourself in a situation where it really counts.
Here are two more job search tips that approach the hidden market in a different way: by making yourself easier to find.
Revise your LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn is one of the most important marketing tools in a job seeker’s arsenal. Your profile is your silent salesman. Your brochure. What is it saying about you? Two quick considerations:
- Think SEO when you revise your profile. That search bar in LinkedIn is like The Google search bar. So, conversationally pack your profile with the keywords you see in target job descriptions. But do it in a way that doesn’t too SEO-y. You hidden job market, job hunting and/or job search tip seeker, you.
- Work in your category experience – by name – early in your profile. I also like adding multiple versions of your target title in the bit before your specific job experience. These are very specific tips, but will no matter what your discipline (agency CEO, president, agency general management, account management, planning, creative, digital, etc.) this kind of thing will help recruiters find you when they start searching for candidates just like you on LinkedIn.
Be where they are
If I were looking for a new ad agency job and wanted to connect with recruiters and hiring managers, I’d spend more time on places like LinkedIn. But your online destinations should also include places like Adweek, Ad Age and category or discipline-specific communities. Read. Comment. Interact. Share. Write.
Here’s another tip: participate offline, too! Explore the local and national trade groups. Attend an event. Judge an awards show. The connection you make in person can be stronger than 280 characters.
So, if you’re looking to be seen in the hidden job market, consider things like growing your network, conducting more informational interviews, revising your LinkedIn profile, and becoming more engaged in the offline advertising agency community.
Anywho, hope this gets you thinking about a few new ways to go about your job search.
If you know someone who might appreciate this post, please share it with ’em. Thanks!
Other articles you may find of interest:
- Apply ad agency new business thinking to your resume
- Improve your resume by thinking three letters: RFP
- Find a new agency or client-side job by identifying marketplace triggers