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Hidden Job Market Explained

Mary Elizabeth Bradford, a recruiter turned career adviser, published a good explanation last Thursday of the hidden job market on her Career Artisan blog. The hidden job market is made up of unfilled positions that have not yet been advertised and in some cases may not even formally exist. Tooling Up columnist Dave Jensen and contributor Brooke Allen have discussed ways that scientists can learn about these jobs and make a case for getting hired into them.

Understanding the hidden job market means first understanding the recruiting and hiring processes of companies and organizations. Bradford gives a succinct description of these processes, illustrating that posting an open position on a job board comes much later in the process than most people realize. Hiring managers often talk to trusted colleagues or get recommendations from current staff before writing and posting an ad. Furthermore, Bradford adds, the managers may first post the opportunity on an industry association Web site before opening it up to the general public.

Tapping into the hidden job market, Bradford says, means tapping into this pre-announcement process. Networking, she explains, is one part of the overall task — but it’s not a substitute for hunting down the names of decision makers and discovering an enterprise’s unadvertised needs. Bradford says that task requires that you understand your target market, research companies in your target market, design your marketing materials for that market, then send those materials to the people making the decision to hire.

Ostensibly, Bradford’s career counseling services will help job hunters with this task. We submit that, for scientists at least, reading Dave Jensen’s and Brooke Allen’s articles, and the other articles in Science Careers, is just as good, even if it’s not as customized as what Bradford offers.

2 comments on “Hidden Job Market Explained”

  1. Jenny

    Did you know that services like what this woman offers can actually run into the thousands of dollars? While I applaud the desire of SCIENCE editors to seek out and publish content on from various sources that scientists don’t generally get to see (if it’s relevant), I must tell you that I believe the advice you’ve published in the past about services like these is more true than ever before. That is, “Run as fast as you can from anyone who charges the applicant something for a job market service.” This includes resume/CV writers, “consultants” like this one, and anyone else who seeks to earn THEIR living by “helping” you find a job. I consider to be the premiere location for advice that will help scientists find their way through the process and I hate to see anything promoted on these pages that has the price tag of this one. (In this case, over $2600). Thanks!

  2. Thank you for referencing my blog post!
    I saw the interesting comment above from Jenny and think it’s vital to respond to this. Jenny, you might be referring to career marketing firms that do charge thousands oftentimes for their services. In the past some firms have provided very shoddy services which served to blemish the whole industry. However I am sure just as with all industries that there are some good ones and some bad ones…
    However I strongly disagree with your philosophy that all job seekers should veer away from any help they must invest in such as resume writers, job search coaches and or career coaches. This is a very large industry with great associations and certifications (check out CareerDirectors International for example). Most of the professionals in our industry have BIG hearts and love the opportunity to help people find jobs – which we do!
    However I do agree it is a great idea to research and use discernment when hiring anyone to help you – I have blogged about this extensively over the years.
    Lastly in terms of my fees – I provide many price points starting at ZERO and have always offered lots of free information for those seeking jobs. I have devoted my career to advocating the truth of what works for job seekers! My $2000+ package is a full service resume/job search coaching/distribution package which is actually very competitively priced for a senior, certified resume writer and job search coach working with executives. And to clarify I am not a career marketing firm or associated with one.
    Hope that helps!

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