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The hidden job market

Employability Service

Category: Student support services

11 September 2020

We hear about the hidden job market all the time, but does it really exist? This blog looks at ways to find work from vacancies that were not advertised.

Are there any jobs for me? 

You may be concerned about the state of the jobs market and wondering if there will be an opportunity for you. It is true that advertised vacancy numbers have dropped. However, this situation does not apply evenly to every sector or employer and a Google search can give news on skills/staff shortages, so we at least know of industry areas – and even employers – that may be in need.

How can I find opportunities?

Know what you are looking for and develop knowledge of an industry sector. Dig deep beyond the headlines. Do your research and be selective. Talk to people who work in the industry you are interested in (see below for more on how to connect). Ask about what is happening, areas of particular growth and skills required that could be useful. It will make your search and applications more effective.

Do not limit yourself to job boards
Job vacancy boards are the source that most candidates target and therefore, it is there where competition may be the greatest. It is said that 70% of vacancies are not advertised in a stable labour market; imagine what it may be like in a changing economy. Jobs may arise at short notice as employers react to new business, for which they need to recruit quickly. Where else can you look? Read on…

Expanding your connections
Doing this can open up your horizons and help you discover not very widely known developments in a company. It is priceless for tapping into new opportunities in a time of rapid change. Many of us may feel daunted by ‘making contacts’ but people are generally happy to talk about what they do and support learning. Ask them what the company does which is different to their competitors, what their job is like and what experience you may need. Consider asking if this they can also recommend other people you should meet.

  • Ask people you know (family, friends, previous and current work colleagues).
  • Research alumni and other professionals working in the industries you are interested in.
  • Reach out on LinkedIn.
  • Don’t forget that the Employability Service at ARU offers advice to students on networking and becoming more confident in connecting with others.
Light-up sign with the words Think Outside the Box

Think outside the box
If you see an opportunity, why not give it a try? You may have been thinking about a possible business idea, so why not explore starting your own business? If you're a student at ARU, the AREA team will support you to develop your business idea.

Taking on contracts or tendering for projects can be a good alternative to gain experience. You can bid for projects on specialised sites. Opportunities may arise through individuals on social media, with limited timescales and no budgets to advertise.

Make a speculative application
A targeted speculative application may make a huge difference and shows initiative. It works best with networking. Choose carefully a few companies you are interested in. Research what they do and reflect that on your application. Prepare a tailored CV and cover letter to this company and strengthen your application by talking to people in the company before sending them. Follow-up with a call after a few days, which can draw attention to your application and open up a conversation. The Employability Service will be happy to help you draft a speculative approach if you have not tried this before.

Work with recruiters
Working with recruiters, particularly with specialist agencies, can also be a good strategy. They can offer insight into your chosen sector. They are also a good source of opportunities in shortage areas, temporary jobs and vacancies that employers need to fill urgently.

They may shorten the recruitment process and be in a position to put you in front of an employer, but only if you can show your suitability. Be focused and develop a relationship with them. Seek their advice and stay on their radar. They may reach out to you if they know there are forthcoming vacancies.

Above all…
Remember it is normal to feel anxious at this time. Stay connected to what you have achieved so far and remind yourself that you did it one step at a time.

While you are searching, prepare, so that you can be your best when that opportunity arises. Remember you are not alone and seek support when needed. Do take care of yourself. Life and careers never move in straight lines and it will just take one opportunity to change everything.

By Luisa Ares, Employability & Careers Adviser


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.