Networking: Tapping the Hidden Job Market

By Terry O’Reilly, OBP Australia

Most jobs are not advertised. That’s a common understanding, although it’s impossible to put an exact percentage on just how many constitute the hidden job market. The point is, you need to do more than merely apply for advertised positions and send your resume to recruiters.

Internal referrals

My first question to job seekers is, ‘Do you know anybody in the company who would be willing to refer you?’ Preferably, this would be an ex-colleague, but even a friend can be useful if they are prepared to vouch for your professional skills and experience. Increasingly, companies are offering bonuses to employees who can refer a suitable candidate for a position before it is advertised publicly, potentially saving thousands of dollars on external recruitment costs. Most migrants will know of compatriots who have made the transition to employment in Australia; it’s just a matter of tracking them down and re-establishing contact.

Industry knowledge

Those who find work quickly are generally those who have good knowledge of the players in their industry.  By doing your company research before you emigrate, you can minimise your period of unemployment in Australia.  Once you have identified the relevant companies, through a combination of LinkedIn, company websites and even the Yellow Pages directory, your next step is to draft an expression of interest (EOI) email to key personnel in your target companies. Of course, your approach needs to be professional and culturally appropriate, so it’s best to seek guidance on the wording of your message. A poor email message could kill any chance of obtaining work with the company. Keep it concise and personalised – address people by their first name.

The purpose of an unsolicited approach is to contact a hiring manager prior to a job being advertised; timing and luck are critical, as you will not know when a company will be in the position to hire. Even if you don’t secure employment via direct contact, in the process, you will develop a deeper understanding of your industry in Australia which is beneficial in the long run.

Insider knowledge

Networking widely with your professional peers will give you access to insider knowledge – Who’s hiring and when? Start building your network through Linkedin, professional forums, MeetUps, etc. Join Linkedin Groups relevant to your profession, post comments and get active. Message people via your common Linkedin group membership to avoid being reported as spam by InMail recipients whom you do not know. The last thing you want is to be blocked from using LinkedIn because you have been reported as a pest. There are also online industry forums, such as Whirlpool for IT professionals, which can be a great way to establish new and useful connections.

Networking Services

Organisations such as OBP Australia have acquired connections across all industries and professions, so use their services to get introduced to your professional peers. Targeted approaches can save you time in the long run.


Success in the hidden job market is all about networking. For example, a good networker may hear from a business owner that he is on the lookout for a manager for one of his new branch office. The networker helps connect this businessman with his colleague who has the skills to take up that particular position.

Here is how networking provides access to the hidden job market:

Apart from networking online, one of the most effective ways of networking is by volunteering in your local community. It helps integrate faster into the Australian way of life, meet new people and make friends.

It is also a great way of getting local references when the job comes along. Your potential employers will want to talk about you with someone who knows you and how you work and behave in a work environment.

If English is not your first language, volunteering will provide you with opportunities to practice your English. Apart from boosting your confidence, volunteering can also help you acquire new skills that you can include on your resume.

And it speaks volumes about you to potential employers.

Networking is not just about getting that elusive job; it is about broadening your social and professional circles. All these connections will help you in the long run well after you have got your first job.

Get people to know you through constant association – Word of mouth (Who do you know…..and who knows you?), by being proactive (getting to know people in your industry and helping others on every opportunity) and reputation (Your personal skills and branding)


MIGRANT NINJA TIP – This post is an excerpt from the book Aussie-Migrant: Jobs. If you like what you read then you can buy the print edition of the book here.