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10 Ways to Find a Job Using the Hidden Job Market

Learn how to find positions that aren’t listed on job boards

This post was originally published by The Balance Careers and was written by Alison Doyle.

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Credit: Getty Images via The Balance Careers

When you’re looking for a job, it’s easy to become focused on job boards and search engines and forget about other ways to find open positions. This kind of tunnel vision can mean missing out on the hidden job market—unadvertised job openings that are accessible only to those who look beyond what they can find online.

For a variety of reasons, you won’t find every open job during an internet search. Companies may advertise some positions internally before posting them to the public, or they may choose to rely on employee referrals to fill open roles. Your dream job may also be something that’s still evolving. If you sit back and wait for it to appear on a job search site, you may miss out on the chance to be part of building something new.

Your best bet when you are job searching is to cast a wide net and build a proactive job search strategy. Here are some ways to find unadvertised job openings.

Key Takeaways

  • The hidden job market includes unadvertised job openings that employers fill by referrals, internal hires, or recruiting firms.

  • The best way to access unadvertised jobs is to create a multipronged job search strategy based on networking, social media, recruiting and employment firms, and other forms of outreach.

  • Develop and maintain a professional brand to maximize your chances of hearing from hiring managers and recruiters.

Where To Find Unadvertised Jobs

According to Jobvite’s 2021 Job Seeker Nation Report, nearly 60% of job seekers learn about open positions on social media, from friends or ex-colleagues, or on employer websites. Meanwhile, just over one-quarter of candidates search for or find out about openings on online job boards.

Even though it’s quick and easy to search and apply for positions using job sites, it’s well worth expanding your search to include other sources. Not only will you expand the pool of available jobs, but you may be able to get a referral that will help give you an “in” at the company.

Apply Directly on Company Career Sites

It costs employers money to advertise open positions on many job sites. Advertising on their own company site, on the other hand, is free—so don’t forget to check company job pages.

Job aggregators such as Getwork and Indeed index many company sites, so you may be able to use these tools to find open jobs.

Tap Your Network

According to recent surveys, up to 85% of jobs are filled through networking.2 So if you’re looking for work, the best thing you can do is let people know. Invest in your career network, which includes acquaintances, teachers, and people in your community, as well as current and former coworkers, clients, and managers. Let your contacts connect you with job openings, opportunities to schedule informational interviews, and other leads.

Use Social Media

Connect with employers, recruiters, and potential contacts on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites. Keep your online presence professional, and remember that networking is about more than just finding open jobs. It’s also an opportunity to develop your professional reputation and expand your list of contacts.

Use a Recruiter

While some employers rely on in-house recruiters to fill jobs, others contract with outside companies to perform this service. These specialists go by many names, including “recruiter” and “headhunter,” and their job is to find qualified candidates for open roles. Connecting with a recruiter can help you find unadvertised job openings and get the inside track on those that are good matches for your skill set.

To find a recruiter, ask your network for recommendations, use an online directory such as or Online Recruiters Directory, or do a Google search for recruiters in your geographic area.

Target Employers

Do you have a list of employers you’d love to work for? If not, consider making one. Once you have target employers in mind, it’s easy to use social media to connect with hiring managers and find job opportunities at your dream companies.

Look for Temp-to-Hire Positions

A temporary job can be more than just a way to make some cash. Many employers hire temporary workers on a full-time basis once they’ve completed their contracts and proven themselves on the job. Temp-to-hire positions also give you a chance to try on new roles and determine whether a situation is a good fit for you.


Freelancing is another way to try on jobs before you commit. Working as a freelancer can also help you develop your skill set, build work experience, and find new career paths.

Attend Job Fairs

Job fairs can help you reach out to multiple employers in a short period of time. These events are typically organized by companies, professional organizations, and colleges and universities. They take place in convention centers, on campuses, and even online.


Volunteering is a great way to build your resume, make contacts, and even find jobs at organizations that are meaningful to you. To get the most out of the experience, treat your volunteer work as you would a job—be professional, responsible, and committed.

Build an Online Presence

In today’s job market, it’s not enough to avoid social media mistakes. You also have to cultivate an online presence that demonstrates your skills, experience, and professional reputation. Think of it as developing your brand. Ideally, your online presence should reflect consistency, professionalism, and expertise. It should also show that you can connect with others in your industry, keep on top of trends, and be a good colleague.

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