How To Tap Into Hidden C-level Executive Jobs

by Meg Guiseppi on September 27, 2010

How’s your executive job search working for you?

If you’re spending all or most of your time responding to job board postings and waiting to be offered interviews, chances are, not much is happening.

You’re conducting a RE-active job search, instead of a PRO-active one. This may be a comfortable and easy way to approach job search, but historically this method yields dismal results – something like a 1-3% success rate.

An estimated 85% of $100K+ jobs that are filled are not advertised and not posted on a job board – these are hidden jobs. Yet as many as 85-90% of executives are competing for that mere 15% of jobs that are advertised and visible.

What is the hidden job market?

  • Jobs created to accommodate specific candidates, once they connected with and had dialog with companies’ hiring decision makers.
  • Existing positions in which an incumbent is replaced when someone better comes along.
  • An open slot, waiting to be filled, that isn’t advertised outside the company. Only internal people know about it.
  • Jobs that, for whatever reason, are not advertised or visible, and can only be uncovered and accessed through networking.

How do you get a foothold in the hidden job market?

  • Compile a list of 10-20 target companies that are a mutual good fit.
  • Research to find one or two key people within each company.
  • Identify challenges within each company that you have the skills to help them with.
  • Connect with your key people through cold contact, an introduction, social networks, and/or other networking methods.

Using LinkedIn and Twitter to connect:

Once you’ve identified those one or two key people within each of your target companies:

Find their LinkedIn profiles.

  • Join the LinkedIn Groups they belong to,
  • Observe for a while first, then participate in and start your own group discussions, positioning yourself as a thought leader and subject matter expert, and
  • When you get comfortable, reach out to people.

Find and follow them on Twitter.

  • Retweet them regularly (to get on their radar and stay top of mind),
  • Follow the people they follow,
  • Listen to their conversations (for job opportunities, market intelligence, and due diligence), and
  • Direct message them when/if you’re comfortable reaching out to them.

Lots more in my posts, Stalled Executive Job Search? Get Busy on LinkedIn and Twitter, and Twitter Personal Branding Strategy — The Beauty of a Re-Tweet.

The keys to networking and cultivating relationships:

  • Know your brand and how to communicate your ROI value.
  • Stay on brand and on message.
  • Be authentic and genuine.
  • Be courteous and a good listener.
  • Give value to get value.

Last year I wrote a post at Executive Resume Branding, How to Target and Network into Hidden C-Level Executive Jobs, that includes plenty of other resources to find company, industry, and people information, and explains why research and initiating contact with a few key people in your target companies is critical:

— You’ll be uncovering unadvertised positions or creating the impetus for your target companies to chisel out an opportunity for you, so you’ll have little, if any, competition. Your focus will be on proving that you have the goods to make an impact.

— You’ll be circumventing HR departments and tapping into the hidden C-level executive job market, because you’re not moving through the HR-driven search process.

— Your research will also serve as your due diligence work to pre-qualify whether companies will be a mutually good fit.

— You’ll become a known commodity and valuable asset, because you’ve taken the time to extend your brand value to the companies’ inner decision making circle.

For even more resources to tap the hidden job market, see’s article, Tapping the Hidden Job Market, Part I, which includes these additional ways and places to connect:

  • School Alumni/ae Associations — check the school’s website to see if they have an association, and for their career center.
  • Employer Alumni Associations — check out Job-Hunt’s Company & Military Alumni Network.
  • Join a job hunting support group — ask your local state Employment Office for assistance in finding an existing support group, or check with local churches to see if they have any groups meeting in their facilities. Also, visit your state’s page of job search resources in Job-Hunt and try the Networking and Job Search Support Groups links.

Related posts:

How to Build a Powerful Executive Network

Power Your Executive Personal Brand with LinkedIn Groups

Twitter Turbocharges Executive Job Search and Personal Brand Visibility

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