Networking: The Golden Ticket to the Hidden Job Market

During this time of year, I see two types of students in my office: those who have a full-time position locked down and those in a panic that the world is over because they do not yet have a job.

From the latter, I am barraged with questions ranging from, “am I too late” to, “am I a failure if I don’t have a job when I graduate?” I quickly respond with a series of no’s followed up with the following question – “have you tapped into the hidden job market yet?”

Today, 80% of jobs are unadvertised. These positions are filled via employee referrals and internal candidates. As a graduating senior, how can you gain access to this 80%? The answer is simple – network, network, network. Here are some networking tips that will help you gain access to the hidden job market.

Inventory and qualify your network.

Who are your connections and how can they help you? Organize contacts by industry and position.  Be tenacious in reaching out, asking for guidance and assistance.

Grow your network.

Ask current members of your network for referrals to new contacts. In addition to joining student groups on campus, get involved in professional and industry organizations. Farm through your college’s alumni database and reach out to alums – sending a request for an informational interview is always a great icebreaker.

Leverage social media channels.

With the growth of social media, the sheer volume of users allows job seekers to not only connect with employers, but also peers and other professionals that can provide advice, job leads, and a supportive network of contacts. While there are thousands of social media platforms out there, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook have been known to have the highest ROI when tapping into the hidden job market. As a college student, be sure to check out Career Explorer on LinkedIn, follow and actively engage with recruiters on Twitter, and utilize applications through Facebook such as JIBE and CareerAmp to organize and qualify your network, while applying for positions posted through these social recruiting tools.

While your experience will take you far, who you know directly impacts the career opportunities made available to you. Taking the time to build a networking strategy will provide you with the golden ticket to the hidden job market. Happy hunting!



Heather currently serves as the Associate Director of Student Services for theUndergraduate Career Services Office in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. In her role, Heather guides students throughout their career development, lectures on career-related topics and personal branding, presents career workshops for students, supervises a team of career coaches, and develops/manages the social media efforts for her office. Before making the switch to Student Affairs, Heather worked in Marketing, Sales, and Promotion for Sony Music Entertainment. Originally from New Jersey, Heather attended Indiana University for her undergraduate degree and The Ohio State University for her graduate studies. She has also lived and worked in Chicago, New York City, and Boston.  You can connect with Heather on LinkedIn.

Related posts:

  1. Leveraging Social Media in Your Job Search
  2. Why is Google+ a Sweet Spot for Professional Networking?
  3. Market Research on the Brand Called You

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