The Hidden Job Market? No, The Unexpected Job Market

Darryl Stevens, a career counselor at UC Riverside has some choice words about the so-called “hidden job market.”

What is the hidden job market? Well, some job search “gurus” claim that the hidden market is where 80% of the jobs are—these gurus, who usually have a book to sell, say that four-fifths of open positions are either never posted or “secretly” hidden from jobseekers.

If you think about this for a while you realize that that’s ridiculous—companies aren’t trying to “protect” their open positions from people who might be able to fill them. BUT, it’s true that jobs are often filled through referrals, personal networking, yadda yadda yadda—NOT job boards or postings.

This is why we love Stevens’ post: he walks us through how he turned a despondent student looking for a career in all the places he was supposed to to one who got a job in a place that was hidden—or as Stevens says, unexpected.

The guy was a grad student in molecular biology who wanted to work in vaccine development, but he just “knew” the lab he wanted to work in wouldn’t take him.

We surfed out on to the website and began looking in places we weren’t supposed to be looking. Suddenly he said, “I know her. I went to school with her.” As it turns out, a former classmate was a scientist in one the labs in the Center. … I tasked him to contact her … and when he came back two weeks later he told me that he had spoken with here and had sent her his CV. At this point, he became a bit glum and said, “She was gonna give it to the guy in Infectious Disease that does the vaccine work and he hasn’t called, so I guess he is not interested.” While he was wallowing in his self-pity, I quietly went to the website and got the guy’s number and at some point mid-wallow, I asked, “So. Do you wanna talk to him?”

Long story, short. We did call and the guy did not have room for him, but thought someone else might. He put the phone down and … walked down the hall to talk to the “other guy” who not only had a place, but was specifically looking for someone who knew protein translation and synthesis. Boy meets lab. Boy marries lab. Boy becomes vaccine researcher.

Yeah, yeah, this isn’t a media job. Far from it. But we wish more career counselors were like this guy—ours just handed us a binder with outdated job flyers in it and told us to go to town. This guy took a student who “knew” that he couldn’t get a job where he wanted to because he didn’t have enough experience and they didn’t have any openings, and showed him that that wasn’t true.

Be sure to read the original post to learn about other things you “know” that are just plain wrong.

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photo: dchasteen (with the help of the lolcat builder)