Career Development Center

Networking Skills

Discovering the Hidden Job Market

What is the hidden job market?

The hidden or unpublished job market consists of the jobs that are not advertised.

Facts about the hidden/unpublished job market

  • Represents 80% of the total jobs being filled each year.
  • Openings are located through networking and targeted direct mail campaigns.
  • Involves building strategic relationships and conducting networking meetings through a process called Informational Interviewing or the Networking Interview.

What are networking meetings?

Networking meetings are set up with professionals from various industries and careers for the purpose of finding out more about what they do and the current needs of their company.  You shouldn’t ask for jobs at first - but establish connections, gain information, and get referrals.

How do you obtain and approach networking contacts?

  • Remember the 1:50 principle:  Everyone knows at least fifty people from different aspects of their life such as: school, work, church, volunteer activities, athletic groups,  trade and professional associations, professors, guest speakers on campus, Rivier alumni ,internship employers, neighbors, friends, and family.  Make a list of potential people you can contact that might work in one of your target occupations/industries or who may know someone who does. 
  • Networking Phone Call:  You can contact people by phone (see sample phone script) to inquire about a potential networking meeting if you know them well or if a person making the referral has approved it.
  • Networking Approach Letter: For those contacts with whom you are less familiar, prepare a powerful approach letter to mail to them (see sample letter).  Follow up by phone or e-mail to persist politely in reiterating your interest in making contact.

What is the purpose of the networking approach letter?

  • To introduce yourself and let the networking contact know how you got their name.
  • To provide a brief explanation about your education/work background and express your intentions to conduct an informational interview regarding their career field.
  • To inform the networking contact that you will be calling them to introduce yourself and set up a time to meet in person or speak by phone if they are located at a distance.

Tips for Networking Meetings

  • Set a definite time to meet the individual and stick to it.
  • If moving to a new city, prepare a trip ahead to meet with 2 or 3 key contacts.
  • To make a positive impact, visit the company’s web site and research the networking contact and their organization prior to the meeting.
  • Prepare a “one minute summary” of your background (see sample) as opposed to offering your resume, to keep the purpose of the meeting focused on gaining information and referrals as opposed to asking for a job – Do not initiate job requests. 
  • If the contact initiates a discussion of potential employment opportunities and requests a resume, you can mail or e-mail one later with a thank-you letter.
  • To expand your network of contacts, ask for referrals of other people to speak with before the end of the meeting. 

Format of a Networking Interview

  • Introductions and first impressions (dress professionally, be on time and prepared).
  • Remind the contact of the purpose for the meeting.
  • Give a brief one or two minute summary of your background.
  • Ask your most important networking questions. (see sample questions)
  • Ask for referrals (Who else might I speak with to continue exploring this field?)
  • Thank the individual for his/her time.
  • Send a thank-you letter within 24 hours (highlighting your strengths and desire to continue developing the networking relationship by following up on suggestions).

What other strategies can I use to develop a network and discover job openings?

  • Direct Targeted Letters: Mailing letters that are addressed to a hiring manager or company describing the candidates current situation and background and how the candidate may be able to meet a need of the employer. (see sample letter)
  • News/Events Approach Letter:  Mailing a letter that connects your services to solve problems or benefit a company as a result of recent news or events associated with that organization – for example: new product launches, receipt of investment or grant funds, relocation, expansion, promotions, new hires. (see sample letter)

Tips for writing a target letter

  • One page in length, addressed to a person in a hiring capacity.
  • Focus on your potential contribution to the company and not on jobs.
  • Highlight your key accomplishments that the company may be interested in.
  • May include name of contact that referred the candidate (if applicable).
  • Should be sent by regular mail, not e-mail, and then follow-up within 5 to 7 days.
  • Phone or e-mail the hiring manger directly to arrange a networking meeting.

Tips for writing a news event approach letter

  • Discover news and events about a company in local business journals, the Wall Street Journal, business sections of newspapers, trade magazines and company web sites.
  • Focus on the parts of an article or event that match your qualifications and ask yourself, “What job opportunities might this information lead to?”
  • Highlight your key accomplishments that the company may be interested.
  • Follow up with a phone call.

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