Many job openings – including some of the best – are never announced online, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
These jobs are part of the “hidden job market" – jobs that are filled by people who "know somebody." Estimates of the hidden job market range from 38% of jobs to 95%. The lower number is probably closer to the truth, but even if only 38% are unadvertised, the DOL also has stated many times that about three-quarters of hires result from job seekers' networking efforts.
Why would an employer not advertise a job? Companies may find it easier, cheaper, or less risky to just interview a few people recommended by other employees, other managers or a recruiter.
It's also possible that the opening may be confidential, or that the manager needs someone but has been too busy to start a search.
In all of these cases, networking is the key to being that person who "knows somebody." That somebody doesn't have to be the company president, the hiring manager or the HR director. It could just be a person who knows them and could put a word in.
Do you dread the very idea of networking? You may have entirely the wrong idea about what it means. Executive career coach Don Orlando pointed out recently that many people define networking like this:
"A mutually mortifying process whereby you impose on every friend, relative, and total stranger to ask for something they cannot give you: a job."
Here's what it really is, according to Orlando:
"The natural preference for extending value, without an immediate expectation of a return, and without giving away the store."
This is a great definition, and here's another component you can add to it: Gathering valuable information about the companies and people who could be involved in your next career breakthrough – and then talking with, and extending value to, those people. This is called networking with a marketing plan.
You can get help with your networking skills. Even “natural networkers” will find that they can improve their approach and pave the way for getting phone calls like this:
Are you still looking? There may be a position opening up soon; we haven’t posted it yet, but we were wondering if you could come in…"