The Hidden Job Market

There is so much more to a job search than submitting résumés—it's all about identifying key opportunities that many times are not posted to the public. Some experts cite figures that 70-80% of all open jobs are never advertised to the public. Donald Asher writes in his book How to Get Any Job that “if you look only for advertised jobs, you’re missing half the job market. Advertised jobs are like the tip of the iceberg, while the rest of the iceberg is invisible. You have to find the hidden job market to run a successful job or internship search.”

So how can you learn about positions if they’re not publicly advertised? Talk to people. Network.

This is why the expression that “it’s not what you know, but who you know” can ring true. Employers, if given the choice, would rather interview someone familiar or who has been referred to them. Having a common connection can definitely be in your favor.

What is Networking?

Networking fosters relationship building by connecting you to people who could lead to a job, internship, or volunteer experience.

Your network includes people you've met (either in person or online) and people you become acquainted with as you’re telling others about your search. Meeting people doesn't always mean attending formal events like career fairs, receptions, or networking events. You meet people informally every day on the bus, getting coffee, walking to class, etc. Strike up a conversation.

When there is the opportunity talk about yourself and what you are interested in, do it! You never know if who you are talking to will know someone who could give you a lead. You wouldn't be asking these individuals for a job, but contacting them to see if you can set up an informational interview. Informational interviews are a way for you to learn more about the profession and can serve as a starting point for your communication with a networking contact.

Networking through Social Media

Using social media is also a great opportunity to network with a wider audience. Being an active Twitter or LinkedIn user can be a great way to gain access to professionals in your field. If you’re not already an active user, it’s never too late to start! Learn more about using LinkedIn effectively. While you’re at it, make sure that your overall online presence is a positive representation of what you have to offer a potential employer.


Log in with your JMU eID to read reviews of jobs and internships by fellow Dukes.

We Can Help

We offer opportunities throughout the year to network with employers in your chosen career path. Check out Handshake for upcoming opportunities, including:

Check out our page for Student Orgs for additional ideas for connecting with employers.

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