Jobs Aren’t Hidden (But They Are Guarded by Gatekeepers)

KeyWhen I present to college students about launching an effective job search, one of my slides is an iceberg graphic. Under the surface of the water, in the largest portion of the iceberg, the words “hidden job market” appear.

I tell the audience “some career experts say that 80% of jobs that get filled don’t get posted.”

What I don’t say is: not this career expert.

Although I don’t believe the conventional wisdom about the extent of the hidden job market, I want students to think that most jobs aren’t posted, so they don’t get complacent and put their main focus on job boards. I want them to be out there networking… so they can get past the gatekeepers.

The 80% figure may have been true in the 1980s. Al Gore hadn’t invented the internet yet, and to put a job posting in the classified ads required cost and effort. Fast forward to the 2000s, and nothing is hidden. With technology, advertising jobs on a website is quick, easy and cheap. Technology results in transparency like we’ve never seen before… instant access to photos, videos, the latest breaking news…  everything is in the open for us to see.

People can’t hide. Jobs can’t hide.

Depending on the industry and the size of organization, there are still a fair number of jobs promoted via word-of-mouth. If you own a small marketing firm and you need a graphic designer, you’ll more likely ask around first. Medium and large organizations post most of their open positions online, and in some fields – government, education – almost 100% of positions are posted.

Back to my presentation on effective job search techniques, I use the term “gated job market.” Even though most jobs are not hidden today, that doesn’t mean that the market is totally open and transparent. In the “gated” job market, you need to punch in the right code to get through.

The job is right there for you to see… you know the description, you have an email address, and you can almost smell the fabric of the cubicle panels. But if you don’t know the code, you won’t get past the guarded gate.

So, What is the Code?

People… connections… find someone inside the walls. People hire people, not pieces of paper. Use LinkedIn and Twitter to identify contacts within your target organizations. But then, connect IRL – in real life. Don’t apply for a job, do nothing, and hope your phone rings.


Follow companies, participate in groups, comment on what people are posting, use advanced people search to find a connection or a 2nd degree connection within a company where you want to work. Keep your network alive on LinkedIn; every now and then, touch base with your first-degree connections, even just to say a quick hello.


Follow companies, follow individuals within your target companies, read blog posts linked from their tweets, comment on blogs, reply to tweets, and most importantly, participate in Twitter chats throughout the week.

There are dozens of chats that happen each day; find ones that are good fits for you.  Some are specific to industries, and some, such as #JobHuntChat, Mondays at 10pm ET, attract a broader audience.

My favorites are:

  • #InternPro – Mondays, 9pm ET – not strictly about interns as the name might suggest, but great career and job search advice, usually geared toward young professionals
  • #OMCChat – Thursdays, 7pm ET – Open Mic Chat where you, the job seeker, can ask your burning questions, and you’ll get the unvarnished truth
  • #CareerServChat – Thursdays, 9pm ET – Focused on college career services professionals and college students, but all are welcome. Details at
  • #AnimalChat – Fridays, noon ET – Not about your 4-legged friends, but the name is derived from the host, Recruiting Animal. Typically attracts HR and recruiting professionals, and is not your garden-variety feel-good chat. Usually a great discussion / debate about job hunting tips

Readers: please add to the discussion in comments. How do you use LinkedIn and Twitter to tap into the “gated job market,” and are there other techniques a job seeker should know?




For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at RichCareer!

Rich GrantAbout the Author: Rich Grant has a background in higher education and most recently was the director of career services at a small four-year college in Maine. Currently, Rich is filling a temporary role as a career advisor and internship coordinator and serves as the president of two professional associations. Find Rich on LinkedIn and Twitter, and check out his blog where he imparts his words of wisdom once or twice a week. Comments, complaints, jokes and legal notices can be sent to



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