Uncover the potential of hidden jobs

Some of the best career opportunities lie in positions never advertised
by Brian Gorman


The websites of major companies, especially recruiters, might seem like obvious places to visit if you’re looking for a new job.

However, there is a vast range of opportunities that never become public. They are often referred to as ‘hidden jobs’. The nature of such openings means it is difficult to quantify them and the proportion of the total employment market for which they account. Some people are willing to hazard a guess.

Stacey Perkins, a career and leadership coach at recruiting firm Korn Ferry, is quoted in an article on CNBC’s ‘Make It’ site, written by Morgan Smith: “There’s a lot of great positions – at least 60%, I’d say –  that never make it to the public job boards, which really surprises a lot of people.” 

Perkins says such roles are often filled through internal candidates or referrals.

Smith cites advice from career coach Emily Liou, who suggests making a list of no more than ten companies for which you want to work. “Then, figure out who the decision-makers at those companies are: the people working on the teams you’re interested in, who your potential boss would be, recruiters and human resource managers.”

She recommends LinkedIn and past job descriptions on the companies’ websites as sound places to start. This kind of focused search can help you build “deeper, more personal connections” when making approaches, and those connections should alert you to job opportunities before they’re posted online. 

Perkins adds that even if there’s no current openings that fit your experience and interests,
"it’s important to share why you’re reaching out” and to explain “what, specifically, is compelling about their career or their company to you”.

Perkins also advises that you use your personal connections, because family and friends could help “open the door to a great position”. 

Quicker process for employers

Using the hidden job market can save time, according to an article on Zippia.com by Sky Ariella. When a company advertises a position, it often attracts hundreds of applications, which can take a long time to assess.

There is also the danger that applications can come from inexperienced people who might not have the desired skills. By keeping the job within the ‘hidden’ space, it is easier to restrict candidates to those who have contacts in the sector, and are more likely to have the required experience.

Another reason for operating in this market is that some companies don’t like it to be public knowledge that they are hiring for certain positions.

Like Liou, Ariella recommends reaching out to companies you want to work for and points to the advantage of using sites such as LinkedIn for networking.

The article is one of many to make what may seem like an obvious point: consider exploring roles within your existing organisation. A company may only want to hire internally because the candidate will already be familiar with the standards and expectations.   


Some jobs appear hidden because they are not as high-profile as others.

In March 2022, Exeter College, in Devon, hosted an ‘NHS Hidden Careers Day’, organised in partnership with the NHS. The event looks to identify opportunities for students while “highlighting the critical roles within the NHS that can be overlooked”, said the college.

Representatives from various NHS departments organised workshops for students about a variety of career opportunities in the NHS, including engineering, catering & nutrition, therapy & cardiac services, IT, and business.

The college held a similar day in 2021, which highlighted hidden roles within the rail industry, organised in partnership with Great Western Railway.   

Seen a blog, news story or discussion online that you think might interest CISI members? Email fred.heritage@wardour.co.uk.
Published: 02 Dec 2022
  • Soft Skills
  • hidden jobs
  • job-hunting
  • career development

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