Exploring the Market
For most job seekers, exploring the job market means turning to the classified section of the newspaper or the Internet with its huge volume of job postings as the first place to look for a job. Some rely on headhunters and recruiters. Very few, however, start their search where their efforts will produce the best results directly with employers or companies where they would like to work. To be successful finding realistic opportunities, begin with your job objective, apply diligence and hard work and look in both the hidden and open job markets.
Hidden Job Market
It's hard to imagine with all the jobs that are listed in newspapers and on the Internet, that most jobs — between 70 and 85 percent, according to some sources — are not openly advertised. Yet it's true. Resignations, new business, expansion, unfilled positions or creating a position for a viable candidate are all reasons employers often have an immediate need to fill a position. This hidden job market, though difficult to access, holds the greatest potential for job seekers and employers who are looking for the perfect match.
Your primary tools for accessing the hidden market are networking and research. For networking to be effective, you need a large list of contacts and plenty of personal interaction. You'll also need lots of practice, both on the phone and in person. For each good lead you find, you'll want to research to find out as much as you can about the company and the job. You have a great team of professionals who can provide information, assistance and advice. Start with your ACAP Center and education counselors, Local Veterans Employment Representatives (LVER) at your state employment assistance office and Transition Assistance Program (TAP) Workshop instructors. Continue to build your network by adding friends, family and business associates who can help you collect information and identify solid career leads. Finally, expand your contacts to include people you don't know or haven't yet met.
Use the telephone to initiate contacts. Start by letting everyone know that you will be looking for a new job. Tell them what you are interested in doing. Let them know that you don't expect them to get you a job, but do ask them for the names of people who can help you research occupations, companies and communities. Then, follow up. Call these new members of your network and ask:
- What's it like to work in this occupation?
- What's it like working for a _________ (big, small, etc.) company?
- What skills, training or experience do I need to win a job and perform well?
- How can I get the training and experience I need?
- What's the cost of living in this city and what are local salaries?
- What are the pros and cons of this city (recreation, schools, quality of life, etc.)?
- Do you know of any job openings?
- Do you know of anyone else I should talk to?
It's wise to put effort into the hidden job market because, when individuals are introduced, referred or brought together on common ground, the chance for success increases.
As you work the hidden job market, remember to explore the open job market, too. The open job market represents public job sources that openly market job opportunities. There are many ways to access the open market. The following are some places where you can begin your search:
- Electronic job sources include websites that offer job listings, resume banks and/or information. Links to a variety of these resources can be found by clicking Links at the left of your screen.
- Non-electronic job sources include classified advertisements, recruiters, temporary agencies, college and school placement offices, military and professional associations or organizations, and industrial and craft unions.
- Event sources include job fairs, conferences and trade shows.
As you prepare to access the hidden and open job markets, remember that each time you introduce yourself to someone, either in conversation or through correspondence, you have an opportunity to introduce your abilities, experience and potential as well. This is when a "Product ID" comes in handy. What is a Product ID? It's a 60- to 90- second sales pitch designed to introduce you, to connect you to the contact through common interests and to present your key strengths, functional expertise and personality traits. The product ID also can help you to establish an agenda for sharing information with your contact. The Product ID is important, so don't wait until the last minute to develop it or improvise one at the meeting. Prepare your Product ID in advance and practice it well. When you speak comfortably about your experience and accomplishments without hesitating or memorizing what you have to say, your professionalism and polish "shine through."
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Setting a Realistic Objective
Assessing your Abilities
Exploring the Market
Creating Effective Resumes
Applying for a Federal Job
Maxing the Job Interview
Dressing for Success
Evaluating and Negotiating Job Offers