By Jim Wong, CPA | April 17, 2013

If you’ve been on the hunt for a job for a while and can’t find one, you could be looking in the wrong place. Often, people look for jobs online, but most vacancies aren’t published. Plus the jobs that are advertised are typically harder to get. Why? Because people are throwing their resumes at hiring managers and not making real connections with people.

So how do people get the jobs that aren’t advertised? Through networking and referrals.

According to preliminary results in a recent survey by The Adler Group, networking represents a larger segment of the hiring process since many positions are filled before the job is made public.

“The non-public, hidden, and more effective market is on the left consisting primarily of internal moves and networking,” says Lou Adler in a recent post on LinkedIn. Fifty-eight percent of active candidates and 81 percent of passive candidates found jobs in the hidden market.

The less effective market is on the right and emphasizes job postings and resume matching.

While the recruiting process varies by industry, company, and department, the end result is the same. One person out of many receives an offer. However, according to Adler, there are two different processes: The one that works and the one that doesn’t.

“Unfortunately it’s the one that doesn’t work that is advocated by HR, legal and the compensation group,” says Adler.

The hiring process that works finds people who are known and judged on their performance and potential. It produces the best talent and is more predictable. “Even better, it’s fully compliant with all U.S. labor laws,” Adler adds.

Here’s how it works: Hiring managers don’t start with a detailed job description. They also don’t post it publicly. They consider people they know internally or have worked with previously. If they can’t find a candidate that way, they network and ask trusted friends and colleagues for recommendations. “The focus of these two first steps is to hire the best person possible for the role,” says Adler.

“The process that doesn’t work is based on attracting and finding people who possess some arbitrary level of skills and experiences,” says Adler.

Here’s how it works: If hiring managers can’t find the right candidate through networking or referrals, they create an official job description and post it publicly. But once this is done, they don’t have as much flexibility with candidates. Skills and experience take over the assessment process.

How to Become an Insider in the Hidden Job Market

Becoming an insider in this job market takes a little creativity and a lot of initiative.

Networking is essential. Your close friends won’t get you a job. Friends of friends, casual acquaintances, and sometimes even strangers will give you a job lead. Be prepared, carry around your business cards, and start to build relationships both on and offline.

Refine your elevator pitch. You have to be succinct when you describe what you are looking for, as well as when you outline your previous experience. Tell them exactly what your objectives are, and what you can do for the company.

Use social media. It’s becoming more and more relevant in today’s job search and, true to its name, it’s there to help people socialize and make connections. LinkedIn is a great way to make professional connections and get in touch with employers. Be proactive and reach out to others to continuously build your network. Participate in LinkedIn Groups and update your status to say on your connections’ minds.

The job market may be rough, but there are more positions available than many people think. Job seekers just have to be smart and disciplined to find them.

This article originally appeared on Clear Focus Financial Search.

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