It is conventional wisdom that bigger is always better, but when it comes to your job search, returning to the same old well might not serve your best interests. If you are looking where everyone else is looking, you shouldn’t be surprised when you find yourself facing hundreds, if not thousands, of other candidates for the same job. I think it is safe to say that in today’s environment you need to look beyond the largest job search sites if you want to build the career you deserve.
When people go looking for a job they almost always start with the large job search sites that everyone knows. Monster.com. Careerpath.com. SimplyHired.com. I am not suggesting you ignore these “monsters” entirely, but that rather you rely on them less. The search for a great job doesn’t end with them it only begins there.
The main problem with these large job sites is that millions of other job seekers are looking at the same job listings you are. You might apply for a job with a large national or multinational company and be competing against thousands of other candidates. If your resume is exceptional, you might stand out against that crowd, but even that is not guaranteed. When your resume is set adrift among a “slush pile” this large, even the best candidates can be lost. Instead of defining yourself as a person, you become a number, a name, a series of ones and zeros to be compared to other ones and zeros. I am sure that doesn’t sound too pleasant, but it is the reality of the large job search sites today.
So, how do you go about finding those hidden jobs that few people know about? How do reduce the competition to 10-20 other candidates instead of thousands? It all comes down to the concept of niches. Just as the Internet has allowed us to find and engage in niche communities for our interests – knitting, football, music, hiking – it has also provided us with a wealth of niches to find new, and hopefully better, job openings.
Hidden jobs are those jobs that never make it to the monsters. The job openings are often nothing more than a thought in someone’s mind. “Hey, I need a coder on this project now, “ or “We need to get a project manger in here before things start flying apart.” Instead of going the traditional, and somewhat expense, route of placing the job listing on a large job search site, these people contact their friends, both face-to-face and online. These job openings get passed from hand to hand and usually end up in some sort of repository like a mailing list, discussion forum or email newsletter.
Your first job, if you’ll excuse the pun, is to locate the most popular web sites and mailing lists dedicated to your particular niche. Look for both formal and ad hoc associations of like-minded people. Look both internationally and locally. Find where people are discussing the hidden jobs of most interest to you. I believe this is dramatically more effective than fighting the monsters of the job search world.
Of course, social media is going to play a large part in your search. Look to your Facebook friends, your LinkedIn connections and perhaps, your own, informal gang of up and coming careerists. You might be surprised, but I can guarantee there are multiple sites dedicated to your particular niche, no matter how small. Are you a left-handed ventriloquist? Check out ventriloquistcentralblog.com. No, I am NOT joking!
Above all, the lesson to be learned is that you need to be talking to as many people as possible who might have knowledge of a job in your area of expertise. Many jobs, I would say even most jobs, never make it to the point of being listed on the larger job sites. They are filled long before, with friends, friends of friends, acquaintances, or members of a particular niche site, mailing list, or discussion forum, that is dedicated to that area of work. You want to place yourself in the position where these jobs are no longer hidden to you.
Don’t ignore the monsters, but today’s job market requires you to look beyond the “easy pickings” of the larger job sites and target your actions where they can have the most impact. Find your niche and find the places where like-minded people come together for discussions and learning. It is there where you will find the job that helps you build the career you deserve.