You may have been wondering what this “hidden job market” is all about.No, there is not a secret website or group that will give you access. The hidden job market simply refers to unadvertised positions. Most people, when looking for their next opportunity during a career transition, rely solely on applying to jobs online, one of the least-effective job search strategies. Savvy job seekers know that their chances of landing a new role increase exponentially if they tap into the hidden job market.

How do you access this hidden job market? Through creative networking strategies!

Begin by honing your “story” and professional value proposition.Come up with a way to clearly and conversationally describe who you are and what makes you unique. Your story can follow a basic narrative formula. You, as the protagonist, have goals. There have been challenges or roadblocks to reaching some of these goals. In the face of these challenges, what have you specifically done to achieve success and what did success look like (i.e. results)? Find a succinct, memorable way to explain your professional journey and use as much quantified information as possible to give the accomplishments context ($, %, #).

Armed with those talking points, talk to everyone you know, put yourself out there and facilitate conversations. Set up coffee meetings and lunch dates.Don’t sit at home and wait for the jobs to find you.Get out there and make things happen through effective networking.Also, create a target list of organizations and begin networking your way to connections within those organizations.Ask your family, friends and first-tier network to facilitate helpful introductions.

Cold contacting can work

After you have exhausted your introduction options, consider reaching out directly to decision-makers and influencers in your target organizations.A well-written email or a thoughtful phone call can go a long way to connecting you to the people who know about these unadvertised positions.

A successful cold contact is often a matter of your correspondence reaching the desk of a decision-maker at precisely the right time. It may feel like luck, but it’s actually shrewdness and hard work in disguise. If you are especially proficient, some companies might create a position just to hire you. It happens.

Leverage social media

Assuming your profile is appropriate, follow your target companies on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.Companies sometimes post opportunities on their social media sites that aren’t yet posted elsewhere.Also, join groups that people in your field are in and become active in the discussion boards — gaining visibility can open up doors. If others in your field know that you’re searching for a new challenge and you’ve proven yourself to be a valuable professional, they may come to you when they hear of job openings.

It is important to remember that these activities take time and effort, but the payoff can be huge.

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