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Hidden Job Market Essentials: Part Three of Four - Finding Work The ''Warm'' Way Mark Swartz, M.B.A. M.Ed.

About the Author

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is Canada's Career Activist. His insights reach millions yearly as the Career Advisor, as author of the best seller "Get Wired, You're Hired," also as a professional speaker and coach on career/work issues. A former Toronto Star careers columnist, Mark's advice is forthright and practical. For Canada's biggest directory of free career articles, and for personalized coaching, please visit

Mark Swartz

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Searching for jobs online is easy and productive. When you move into the ''hidden job market'' -- where postings aren't advertised -- the best way to look for work is by networking. This is where you try to make tons of contacts within your chosen field. The goal is to eventually meet someone who's seeking a person with your skills or who knows of someone else who is.

Networking is a term we hear a lot about but don't always fully understand. It's not about e-mailing everyone you know to ask them for a job. Rather it's a way of politely leveraging the people you already know (family, instructors, friends, former work associates) to get introduced to decision makers at employers you would consider working for. In essence, networking is a strategic way of establishing and maintaining a rapport with other individuals in your field -- and ultimately those who can hire you. It may involve quite a bit of time and effort on your part. However its effects can be dramatic, as unforeseen opportunities begin to arise in areas you may never have thought possible.

A quick example. Dara, 21, was about two months away from graduating with a four year degree in biology from an eastern Canadian university. She began her work search by visiting Then a friend of hers mentioned that Dara should also be ''leveraging her personal network.'' Dara was concerned because she had spent so much time in the laboratory poring over experiment results that she barely knew anyone outside her department. Who could she possibly network with to tap into the hidden jobs her friends were talking about?

As it turns out, by simply chatting to her friends about her concerns and goals, Dara started the ball rolling. One friend mentioned that her mom happened to be a senior nursing supervisor at the big hospital nearby. The friend introduced Dara to her mom. (Back to this in a minute). Dara also approached her own lab supervisor, a respected member of the local science community. He was only too happy to introduce his dedicated student to several of his colleagues, all of whom worked in established positions for reputable science and healthcare organizations.

Now back to the nursing supervisor mom that Dara had met with. The mom was so impressed with Dara's drive, knowledge and enthusiasm that she gave Dara the name and work number of a close friend who was heading up the research department at a pharmaceutical firm in the city. He agreed to meet Dara for a half hour one morning two weeks later. Again Dara made a great impression and he in turn spoke about her briefly to one of the managers that reported to him -- a manager who had just that week received a budget increase and needed a new lab assistant. Guess who got asked in for an interview before nearly anyone else?

Does this sound like a whole lot of running around to make yourself known to others who may or may not be able to assist you? It absolutely is. But one of the keys to networking is to start by letting a wide variety of people know about your skills and availability. You never know who knows whom!

Other steps you can take to generate contacts and meetings:
  • Consider joining a relevant industry or professional trade association on a student basis. During their meetings you can network with decision-makers and learn about leading edge trends.
  • Attend relevant trade shows by visiting the free exhibitor area and talking with suppliers. They sometimes hear of openings at the customer firms they deal with.
  • Harness the power of,, and related social networking sites.

Regardless of the venues you include in your search, make sure to be sincere with people. And show a genuine interest in the industry and people's personal experiences. Most individuals can tell very easily when you're using them disrespectfully. Remember, your approach is the most important aspect of networking. Courteous and appreciative is how to go.

One more networking tip: don't overlook smaller companies. Far more job growth overall occurs within smaller firms (85% of new jobs in Canada) and they don't necessarily have the big budgets to spend on advertising job openings. They are a perfect example of those companies that you should seek out in the hidden job market while continuing to use the online job boards.

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