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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.

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