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Accessing the hidden job market

Making speculative applications
Networking and informational interviewing
Social networking
Professional associations
Maintain your momentum

In New Zealand, many jobs are never advertised. To access this ‘hidden’ job market, you’ll need to commit time and energy and take a focused, positive and active approach. In particular:

  • Break your goal down into specific, manageable tasks.
  • Set up a detailed system for organising and recording all the information you accumulate.
  • Develop a clear idea of what you are looking for in a job, in functional terms, rather than searching by job title. Similar positions can be advertised under different titles and different jobs may be given the same title although their functional requirements differ.
  • Don't limit your search to particular types of organisations. Quite diverse companies could offer jobs in your area of interest.
  • Research the organisations you could target.
  • Keep up to date with current events by reading professional publications, trade magazines, business publications and articles in the employment section of newspapers.

Making speculative applications

This method involves making a direct approach to organisations to enquire about job opportunities. You’ll need to research the organisation and aim to contact a named person. Be prepared with the questions you need to ask, what you want to say about yourself and know what you want from this approach. Practise beforehand. Don't be put off if there are no vacancies. Offer to send your CV for their files and make contact regularly to discuss possible new opportunities.

Some organisations offer the ability to register your interest in working for them, often by completing an on-line form. If you do this, the onus is on you to keep in touch with the organisation.

When looking for organisations to contact, use search engines and web directories such as Index NZ.

Networking and informational interviewing

This is often more time-consuming, but networking can be more effective than making speculative applications. It involves using people you know, and people they know, as a source for contacts and personal referral. In this it’s important that you do not ask for a job on your initial approach to the business contact. Instead, ask for information and advice – this is often referred to as an informational interview. Central to this is that they are information-seeking approaches.  Their purpose, at least initially, is for you to find out more about:

  • The organisation that your contact works for and the sector it operates in - the culture, challenges, opportunities and major players
  • How your skills, experience and qualifcations might fit within the organisation and sector concerned
  • The role that your contact holds - what it involves and is like on a day-to-day basis, it's good and bad points; typical routes into such work for example.
  • How people work together, and what the organisation's senior leadership is like, in the organisation concerned
  • What particular needs the organisation has.

You should aim to keep the lines of communication open for any future opportunities and, done properly, informational interviews can be a great way of accessing information about the hidden job market - from contacts that you have spent time building a professional relationship with.

Crucially however, established relationships such as these can lead to opportunistic hires.  By this we mean that you may gain advance notice of a role that's about to be advertised, or may find that a role is created for you that didn't previously exist.

In undertaking informational interviews then, one of your major goals should be to project your professional personal brand. This should encompass who you are as a person; how you could add value to the organisation that hires you and how you would do this in a unique way. Stress skills and qualities that you have that would be a major asset to the organisation, show your awareness of problems or challenges that they face and offer solutions to these based upon your past experiences of problem-solving (which may have been in any aspect of your life).

For more information on the above see:

Cold calling.pdf Networking.pdf
Informational interviews.pdf Researching the organisation.pdf

In addition, see the Informational interviewing tutorial from Quintessential Careers and take a look too at:

With thanks to CareerPlayer, Graduate Jobs and Career Advice on video.

Social networking

It’s increasingly likely that you are involved in social networking. What may surprise you however, is the number of potential (and current) employers who will look for the on-line presence of employees and job applicants. As a result, it is crucial that you think about your presence there and what it might say about you.

  • Look at all the items you have on social networking sites - your photographs; links; comments and so on. Review them from the standpoint of an employer - what image do they give of you? It’s likely that this exercise could lead to you deleting some items and strengthening your privacy settings. As you’re doing this, don’t overlook asking others to remove items; photos and other references to you if you are uncomfortable about others accessing them.
  • Consider using professional social networks such as LinkedIn for the core of your career and job-search endeavours. You may even join the trend of creating a blog on sites such as Wordpress in which you can explore your career interests with like-minds.
  • Load your CV onto any professional blogs you create and sites that you join - but ensure that it is concise, focused and up-to-date. Use ‘key words’ relevant to the type of work you’re in or seek.
  • Be very cautious about commenting on a role; profession; sector or organisation. People have lost their jobs for posting derogatory comments or other items on social networking sites.
  • Search for yourself - look up your name in search engines such as ‘Google’ and ask people you know to look for you in social network sites they belong to. You might be surprised at the quantity and range of information revealed!
  • Finally remember that nothing ever really disappears from the internet. If in doubt, don’t post to begin with - and keep a close watch on your on-line presence wherever it comes from!

For more on this topic see:

Using social media.pdf

In addition, you'll find a wealth of useful information on Social Media for Job Seekers on the Prominence web site which you can access here.


This is a professional networking site that operates worldwide. For many job seekers it’s an invaluable resource that can be used to develop a professional identity and project your ‘brand’, to network and build career-related knowledge. To use LinkedIn professionally, you’ll need to update your profile there on a regular basis. Additionally, you’re likely to choose to be active in relevant groups and to share your experiences, advice and expertise with others.

Find out more through the video below, by joining our LinkedIn group and by participating in one of our regular LinkedIn workshops and seminars – you can access details of these through the ‘Events’ tab on Massey CareerHub.

Professional associations

These exist for a broad range of roles and many encourage student membership. By joining relevant professional associations you’ll be better able to network with people working in career areas that interest you; make yourself known to them and access advice about employment; trends in the sector and about roles and potential employers. This networking can occur on-line or through attendance at local and national events hosted by the association – many have very active branch networks.

Additionally, many professional associations carry ‘job opportunities’ and ‘work wanted’ sections on their websites, sometimes accessible only to members. Coupled with this, some offer on-line journals which allow you to keep up to date with the profession concerned; discussion forums and details of professional development opportunities.

Note too, that some professional associations are employer bodies or have corporate members.  These are often listed on their website in the form of a members directory or in a links section.  Such listings can be useful if you are considering making speculative applications (see above).

You can access information on many NZ professional associations here and here.

Maintain your momentum

  • Take every opportunity that you can to connect with people in your preferred roles and sector, for example by attending conferences; exhibitions; seminars and expos and by engaging with on-line groups and webinars
  • Try to arrange work shadowing or internships
  • Keep reviewing what you are learning. Are you still committed to this role and sector?
  • Are there short courses or skills you could develop or qualifications you can attain to increase your chances?
  • Keep your contacts updated on your progress.

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