NotionPath – Be Heard Recruiting & Career Coaching

Finding the “Hidden” Job Market

Many experts believe that over 70% of jobs never get advertised.  I would also suggest that for executive and senior-level roles, that percentage may be even lower. If you are only looking for a new position on job boards, you are effectively limiting your search to less than 30% of the possible jobs available.

Going after the hidden job market is a “targeted search process.” It requires intent and a clear strategy.  Before you send out 100 resumes, here is a far better use of your time. Strategically reach out to your connection, build your network, and plant seeds to grow a rich and powerful network that can serve you throughout your career with these eight steps:

1. Build Your Foundation 

Exercise, Wellness, and Mindfulness – to Build a winning routine.

Some may wonder how exercising will help you get a job, let alone eating right and meditating. Of the eight steps here, I will suggest that those who create a “winning routine” will have the highest percentage of success, building confidence and clarity for a powerful job search and successful career.  Let’s face it a career search, especially if unemployed, is one of the most stressful things we go through in life.  Investing in yourself is critical to help you get through it.   A winning routine doesn’t mean you must start training for an Ironman competition or take up half your day.  A few minutes to as much as an hour a few times a week can be huge.  

2. Discovery

Get Clear and focused on the roles you are qualified for, want, and need – and don’t apply to positions you are not highly skilled for.

Too many professionals, in their frustration and desperation, take a broad approach.  Generally, that approach is a waste of time and can hurt your chances of getting the desired role.  Employers are not job coaches…they set up to “find” you the best fit in their company.  Most recruiters aren’t, either.  It would help if you were specific and clear about where you bring value. Position yourself as an expert – a Specialist. That’s what employers hire.

3. Branding

Resume, LinkedIn Profile, Letters, and Elevator Pitch

With a clear focus on the role, your next goal before starting the search process is to ensure your branding communicates that message – your value proposition.  That message needs to be clear in your resume and LinkedIn profile.  Once you get a hiring manager’s attention, you need to deliver on that attention with branding that supports your efforts to get their attention.   The 6-second rule still applies – the hiring manager will first “scan” your resume or often your LinkedIn profile, and you need to catch their attention to ensure they continue to be interested.

A key thing to understand is to think of your LinkedIn Profile as your “Landing Page.” A Marketing tactic where you draw people to learn more about a specific product or service…in this case – you.

4. Networking with Purpose

Most of us are well aware of the value of Networking.  Networking may have been the way you have secured past opportunities. Who do you know?  The strength of your network will be critical in making the right connections.  The challenge for many is that, for multiple reasons, you haven’t had to build deep networking, and now you need to do so fast.

Start by identifying the companies you want to work with.   A Prospect List.  For each company, you will recognize the following:

  • Your Hook: Identify your connection with each company – its products, services, mission, values, leaders, or hiring manager.  Two types of “hooks” are
  • An emotional connection – part of your why is aligned.
  • Your key accomplishments and the pains you have solved align with that company.
  • Identify the Hiring Manager: LinkedIn has become a vital tool in networking.  Use LinkedIn to help identify the hiring managers you want to connect with.     Yes, the bigger your network is, the more people you have access to (there are strategies to build this). Premium LinkedIn versions can help, but there are other tools like  This web tool leverages google to do a structured search and access all profiles on LinkedIn…not just the ones in your network.
  • Connecting: While LinkedIn can be useful for communicating with people, many hiring managers, especially the higher you go on the org chart, ignore LinkedIn messages.  We recommend, where possible, you move the connection to events, face-to-face, email, or phone.  While a business website can help get you phone numbers and email addresses.  There are also online tools to find anyone’s business email address. Two I use are (with free limited accounts to get started):

5. Asking for the opportunity

With your list started then, you will begin to reach out.  With this “hidden job” search method, you mustn’t start your connection asking for a job.  Instead, the goal is first to create a connection based on the hook you identify and ask for an opportunity to learn more about them and their company. Do so using a Compelling Cover letter that, as mentioned above, focuses on your emotional connection with the company or a specific accomplishment and the pains you have solved that relate to that organization.  I don’t recommend you send a resume, but either point to your LinkedIn Profile (your “landing page”) or, for some roles, a one-page sell sheet – a high-level summary of your skills.  Something easy to scan.

6. Follow through on the Interview

So while ALL of these efforts are to get you to the point of an Interview, you must prepare. No matter how good of a communicator you are, as a salesperson, interviews and talking about yourself are much different than selling a company’s products or services.  Learn about behavior questions and how to prepare panel interviews and video and phone interviews. A key area to focus on preparing is understanding that an interview is an exchange of information. Be curious about your interviewer as a person and the company you are interviewing with.  Prepare questions for the employer.

7. Have a Plan

This article defines a process for you to build your plan.  A key differentiator is that this process requires great intent. Thought. Planning. Failing to do so and shortcutting, or as mentioned a couple of times now, “spray and pray,” will backfire and significantly hurt your efforts.  Employers will see your unfocused efforts and blacklist you. Employers are already inundated with candidates and do not have time to provide career counseling (a few graciously do). It would be best if you were clear, focused, and to the point and build a direct connection between you, your skills, the company, and the roles they need. You will need to invest time with each opportunity but save time and significantly increase efficiency.

8. Get a Mentor

Finding a mentor is critical to help you build a plan, see your blind spots, and provide access to tools to make your search effective and more efficient.  While writers, coaches, and recruiters all bring value to the process, there is a unique value in working with other business executives or hiring managers that understand from an inside perspective the employment and career development processes.  Your customer is a hiring manager, a Manager, Director, VP, or C-Level Leader – find a mentor who understands that role and how to serve them.

Summary Thoughts

This process is often welcomed by hiring managers when done respectfully and when you can bring clear value to their team.  Many have thanked me for making an introduction, or I hear from my coaching clients as most hiring managers dread posting ads and having to work through dozens or hundreds of applications – 80% of which are not qualified.

For any relationship to work, it needs to be a mutual connection. This process allows you to start a conversation and get to know the manager and company in maybe a less structured approach than a typical interviewing process can be.

Will it work every time, no; will it be disruptive and allow you to stand out, yes! This approach is how most c-Level or senior-level opportunities are discovered, and relationships started. My experience is it’s even more effective for mid-level roles because fewer people take this approach.

One word of caution. Wait to start this process until you are clear on the role you want to focus on and your Branding, resume, and LinkedIn profile, tell your story. Otherwise, you may burn a bridge and make it difficult to get a second look.

Share your ideas on how YOU reach employers about positions they don’t currently have posted.


Schedule a Phone call –>

Get a job search strategy just for you with a no-cost Discovery Call from someone that has hired 1,000s and coached 100s….from C-level Executives and Senior Professionals, like me, to recent Graduates. There is a better way.

About David McKnight and NotionPath.  

Thank you for reading, and I hope you found value in this article. Please comment and share with your network if it’s of value to you. I have spent 20 years as a CEO, COO, and CFO, and the last several years focusing on building teams, recruiting, and Career Mentoring.  A few years ago, I experienced an 18-month gap for a job. Since then, I have been on a mission better understand the challenge of a job search and bring tools and solutions to serve executives and professionals, and employers who NEED top talent.     Hear what others have said about working with me from my recommendations on my profile: