If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated by the lack of interesting job openings or the intense competition for positions advertised on online job boards, there may be a reassuring explanation: The opportunities you’re looking for are “hidden” job markets. are in.

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Depending on who you ask, there can be between 70% and 90% of positions in the hidden job market, so this should not be taken lightly. Some may claim that the hidden market is a myth, but is discounting this notion a risk you are willing to take with your career?

It can be elusive, but if you’re smart about it, there are ways you can access and take advantage of the hidden job market. Here are three methods that I have found to be most successful.

1. use your existing network

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Many people massively complicate the process of accessing their available networks. Before you even consider walking around a conference in a suit and handing out your business card to everyone who contacts you, think seriously about using the network you already have.

If you think you don’t have a network, you’re almost certainly wrong – even if you’ve been out of work for years and don’t have any friends. Do you have any family members? Neighbor or acquaintance? Past employers and coworkers? Almost everyone can answer any one of those questions in the affirmative.

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So, make a list of who is in your network and start contacting them. Do this to establish a solid relationship that shows you care about them – ask how they’re doing first, and bonus points if you can remember a personal anecdote or provide them with value based on your past interactions. can do. Then, once the conversation is going well, you can mention that you’re looking for work.

Don’t assume that someone can’t help you just because they work in a different industry. You don’t know who they know, and it’s all about spreading the word as far as possible.

Also, make a habit of casually bringing up the fact that you’re currently looking for a job (be specific about the role and field) in conversation—even if it’s just a chat with a complete stranger. You might think this sounds desperate, but you’ll find that most people respect the bravery and hustle required to accomplish such an approach. And even if they can’t help you right now, they might think of you later when the opportunity comes.

Of course, the more you can grow your network, the better your chances of getting a job.

2. Join relevant associations or groups

If you’ve tried to spread the word about your ongoing job search to everyone you know and haven’t found any results, it may be time to expand your network. The easiest and most effective way to do this is by joining relevant groups or associations.

One of the most effective options is your college’s alumni network, which sends out newsletters with potentially relevant opportunities for your alumni and organizes meetings and conferences. If you’re not already on the mailing list, go directly to your parent’s website and find out what you’re missing.

In some cases, you can also join an employer alumni association, which is a group specifically for college alumni who work for a particular company. These flourish only when there is a strong relationship between the college and the firm. But if you find out there’s one for your college, that’s a strong sign that this company is more likely to consider you.

Not a college graduate? There are still relevant groups you can join. Look for professional networking groups on LinkedIn and/or Facebook that are tailored to your city. You might also consider national or regional professional associations and societies.

3. Keep an eye on companies of interest

Do you know what type of companies or organizations you want to work with? Are you doing their activities online? If your answer to the first question is yes and your answer to the second question is no, you are missing.

You never know where the next opportunity will come from. There are examples of people who have been directly contacted by hiring managers or CEOs after doing something as simple as following a company on LinkedIn or replying to a tweet.

So, make sure you follow the company on social media sites, subscribe to any newsletters and possibly even follow the hiring manager on LinkedIn. If they post or send something of interest, you’ll have every opportunity to respond.

But if you take this approach, make sure your social media profiles are up to scratch. If your bio makes it clear who you are and what your skill set is, you can maximize your chances of becoming someone who feels that you are a perfect fit for a certain company or position.

Next Step: Rent

Some people may decide to put all three of the above tips into practice, others may prefer to repeat a single aspect, and others may still be so motivated that they would like to seek out even more strategies. Whatever works best for you, don’t sit back and decide to stick to standard job boards.

Thinking outside the box can seem frustrating at first, but once you’ve planted some seeds, results can pop up in unexpected places. Why won’t you start that process today?