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The Hidden Job Market

Regular readers of will know all about the hidden jobs market.  It’s the reason why we optimize our Linkedin profiles – because some jobs simply aren’t advertised.

These jobs – typically senior level – are usually filled by retained executive search consultants – so-called “headhunters.”  Headhunters work under cover of secrecy – they are often seeking a candidate to replace an executive who is entirely unaware of the level of succession planning.  You can’t apply to company websites.  You won’t find these jobs on Monster or Indeed.

You need to be found.

Retained search consultants are paid a lot of money to go out and find the best candidate.  Search fees can be as much as 33% of total annual compensation – twice what some contingent recruiters might make – and they are paid this for a reason.  They are expected to undertake an extensive research process, mapping out all of the talent across a market sector – and then approach the top talent.

So how do you get spotted?

Well, some times it’s pretty much automatic.  In niche roles, there may be a small number of potential candidates, and so you simply need to be in an appropriate position at a well-known competitor, and you are likely to be considered.  However, it’s not always this simple.

Let’s say your next step is upwards.  Or you want to transition to a different industry.  In this case, you’ll need to work hard to be found.  You’ll need to consider what your transferable skills are, and how well they fit the role you are targeting.  You’ll need to optimize your Linkedin profile around this role.

But don’t limit yourself to Linkedin.  While Linkedin is unquestionably the pre-eminent place to be found by recruiters, it’s not the only one.  In specific markets – Germany, for example – it ranks behind local suppliers (Xing in the case of the DACH countries).

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There is also a range of niche sites that may be worth you spending time reviewing.  Some sites target certain sectors – others focus on specific functions.

If you are targeting a leadership role, one site to consider is GatedTalent.  It’s free (which is a good starting point!) and it’s major strength is that it will you a degree of privacy that is not available on Linkedin.  Your profile is anonymous, you can mask information such as employer names, and recruiters only get access to your full data if you accept a connection request from them.

Creating a profile gets you on the radar of a large number of search firms.  However, if you aren’t ready to do that, you also have the option to simply dip into the directory of headhunters and approach the ones that meet your needs.  Again, it’s entirely free.

Building relationships with individual recruiters is an excellent way of increasing your visibility.  The reality is, of course, that many executive searches are confidential and handled by just one recruiter.  If you don’t know about the search, you don’t know about the recruiter, and you don’t know who to target!  While sending CVs to targetted recruiters is always valuable, taking proactive steps to increase your visibility is also an essential part of your career strategy!

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