"I was so tired of job hunting": How 3 women found their dream roles on the 'hidden job market.'

In today’s challenging job market, many jobseekers are sending off hundreds of applications without success. Desperate to find something, they assume that job hunting is a numbers game and the more applications they make, the better their chances. All this does is create job hunting fatigue.

Job hunting is boring and time consuming. Many job hunters will cut and paste from previous applications or skip the parts of selection criteria questions that they cannot answer. Unfortunately, employers will pick up on this. 

But there is another way. 

Watch: Kerri-Anne Kennerley shares her career advice. Post continues below.

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You may have heard of the hidden job market. These are the jobs that are never advertised. The jobs that are filled from within or from the employer’s network. The jobs that are given to somebody who applied on spec before the vacancy even arose or who once temped there. It has been said that 80 per cent of jobs are filled this way. 

So how do job hunters access these roles when they're hidden?

Below, three women share their stories. 

'I applied for 1000 jobs. A chance encounter changed my luck.' – Katie’s story. 

When Chartered Accountant Katie moved to Australia from the UK, she began looking for work the traditional way.

"I sent off a thousand applications," Katie says. 


"Looking back, I can see I was sloppy. I was so tired of job hunting, I would fire off my resume to any half decent job ad, sometimes without a cover letter. I thought that if I sent enough applications then someone would take me on.

"Then one day a friend called me and said her neighbour was looking for an administrator for his investment management company. I was a little dubious because it sounded quite junior, but I realised that all these applications were getting me nowhere, so I met him for a coffee. 

"I’m so glad I did. He was really impressed with my experience and ended up creating a more senior role for me. Within a year I was the Chief Operations Officer. My husband and I are now partners in the business.  

"I would advise others to spread the word that you are looking for work and always keep an open mind. Go and meet your contact for coffee – you never know what it might lead to."

'I’m earning my best salary ever and I was employed at the height of COVID-19.' – Linda’s story.

Writer Linda was part of an online community for freelancers and responded to a post for some one-off freelance work with her employer last year. 

"I stayed in touch and then just as COVID-19 started they contacted me saying they were looking for a full-time writer. They were offering a competitive salary, so I jumped at the chance.

"I had my kids at home, due to lockdown, so they said I could be flexible with my hours and work from home. My advice would be to make the most of online communities in your industry. Consider doing one-off gigs or volunteering to get your foot in the door. 

"Once a company knows your work, they are more likely to employ you on your terms."

'My redundancy was a shock, but it led to something better.' - Wendy’s story.

When Wendy was made redundant at the start of the pandemic, she feared the worst. A week later she was starting a new role, thanks to her networking. 


Wendy says, "I had been happily working at my old company in construction for years and it came as a real shock to me when I was made redundant. With all the whispers going around about Coronavirus I was concerned. Luckily, I have always stayed in touch with people in my industry. The day after I was made redundant, I got a call from an old work colleague asking me if I wanted to come and work for them. They had heard on the grapevine about the redundancies. At the interview, I knew three out of the four people on the panel.

"I recommend that you stay in touch with other people in your industry, even if you are happy in your role. You never know what's around the corner."

Employers want to fill their jobs quickly and without hassle. With so many of us working at home, they want new recruits that they know are trustworthy and a good cultural fit.

Job hunters should focus on becoming known to employers. Tell everyone you know that you are looking for work, reach out to former colleagues and contacts in your industry and be proactive with tools like LinkedIn to seek out new connections. The lesson here? Don’t focus on job applications alone.

Have you taken on a role that wasn’t advertised? We'd love to hear your story in the comments. 

Denny Nesbitt is a life and career coach to motivated women who are seeking greater fulfilment and balance in their working lives. She lives with her husband and two sons on the Illawarra Coast in NSW. See more from Denny here.

Feature Image: Getty