It might be time to shift your online job search offline

| April 9, 2021

Despite a so-called boom, thousands of job seekers are frustrated because they cannot find a job.

For them, it seems their applications for positions advertised online are simply being sucked into cyberspace.

But maybe they were simply looking in all the wrong places for that elusive, well-paid role and should be switching their online job search offline.

It may surprise you to learn that most job vacancies do not make it on to online job boards, company websites, newspapers or – for that matter – anywhere else in public view.

Instead, they form part of a growing but hidden and somewhat “underground” jobs market that is not readily visible to job hunters.

Up to one third of jobs never make it online.

And in the case of small to medium-sized businesses, some experts believe up to 80 per cent of vacancies are filled by word of mouth.

In fact, so vast is the hidden jobs network that some experts compare the entire market to an iceberg. The iceberg’s tip represents the vacancies in the public’s view but beneath the surface – and therefore hidden – are the majority of roles that are assigned through the word-of-mouth process.

It is easy to understand why some bosses avoid the online job market and instead draw on those they know or – at the very least – know something about.

Some familiarity with a prospective employee can take the risk out of an expensive hiring mistake and also shorten a drawn-out recruitment process.

Recruiting offline can also prevent an employer being swamped with applicants who do not fit the bill. And it can stop in its tracks the time-consuming process of sifting through resumes of those who are not really serious about the advertised role.

There are even those bosses who want to keep hiring decisions quiet because they are opening a new business and don’t want to alert competitors. Others may need to confidentially replace a non-performer.

The revelation that the “gated” offline jobs market is possibly larger than its online counterpart will surprise and possibly anger those job seekers who are caught unawares.

Many job seekers will consider the hidden jobs market to be unfair and wonder how they can crack this mysterious place.

Thankfully, the hidden jobs market can be penetrated.

But breaking into that treasure trove of jobs will requires a different approach – principally, it will force job seekers to develop and use networks.

It is not about going back to your old school mates who made it in the business community – nor is it about approaching those who owe you a favour.

It is about meeting new people to make connections that may yield job opportunities.

This can include getting to know recruiters, being active on social media, attending conferences and networking events and approaching large companies even if it is not clear whether there are vacancies.

Tapping the hidden jobs market may also extend to undertaking volunteer work to build a personal brand, joining an industry association that is aligned to your talents and making use of family and friends’ contacts.

The bottom line is those active in the hidden jobs market get a head start in communicating with employers before the rest of the job crowd arrives – once a position is advertised through top-of-the-iceberg channels.

Some experts suggest that job seekers are on the road to success with the hidden market when their name comes up in discussions about a vacancy, without them needing to be in the room.

The hidden jobs market holds much promise for those who have not managed to secure a position through the online market.

While some view the behind-the-scenes jobs market as secretive, others regard it more like a game of “hide and seek”: job seekers must be creative in hunting down the opportunities.