The Truth Behind the Hidden Job Market Myth

Leading career tools site Quintessential Careers investigates the existence of the “hidden job market.”

Kettle Falls, WA, June 12, 2010 --( Is the “hidden job market” a myth? Career experts have for years touted the notion that the vast majority of jobs – published statistics have suggested figures ranging from 75 to 95 percent of the total job market – are never advertised. This portion of the job market that is hidden from public view is behind the rationale career practitioners use to promote the effectiveness of networking in the job search. But, based on a prominent consultant’s assertion that the hidden job market is a myth, Quintessential Careers (, one of the Web's leading career tools sites, investigated the hidden job market concept and has published its findings in a package of three articles.

The consultant was Gerry Crispin, who in 2009 stated in a career-management discussion group that the hidden job market is one of the biggest myths of job-hunting; that, in fact, it doesn’t exist: “Maybe a few thousand out of 20 million jobs are unpublished, and they are primarily at or near the C-level,” said Gerry Crispin, who with partner Mark Mehler, operates CareerXroads®, which consults with corporations in career planning and placement, contract recruiting, executive search, recruitment advertising, and human-resource management.

With his permission, Quintessential Careers shared Crispin’s opinion with more than 70 experts in the career-management, employment, recruiting, and hiring sectors. The majority refuted Crispin’s opinion that the hidden job market is a myth, though few offered concrete evidence in favor of the hidden market. Some agreed with him. The experts, however, identified two problems with the hidden job market concept:

1. Definitions and interpretations of the “hidden job market” may not reflect reality. “Hidden” may not be the best term for this sector of available jobs since employers don’t deliberately hide vacancies.

2. Those who are skeptical about the hidden job market generally admit it exists but dispute commonly bandied-about figures – that the hidden job market comprises 75-95 percent of the job market -- contending that the portion of the job market that is unadvertised is much smaller. The size of the hidden job market may also fluctuate based on the economy, some say.

In Quintessential Careers’ lead article on the hidden job market (, Is the Hidden Job Market a Myth? A Quintessential Careers Investigative Report, experts agreed with Crispin’s assertion that employers generally don’t purposefully hide job vacancies from the public, but suggested that situations such as the following may result in unpublicized openings:

**The employer needs to confidentially replace a nonperformer.
**The employer at a public company fears news of significant hiring will hurt stock prices.
**The employer does not want to reveal future plans to competitors and others, and publicizing openings could expose those plans.
**The employer wants to get referrals before or instead of publicizing the vacancy and being inundated with resumes from unqualified candidates.
**The employer hires a search firm or recruiter to conduct a confidential search.
**The employer uses social media or other non-advertising means to find candidates.
**The employer may be very small and does not have the resources to advertise the opening.
**Human error; the employer simply fails to publicize the opening (e.g., lack or time, forgetfulness) or has a poorly designed Website, where job-seekers have difficulty finding vacancy listings.
**The opening exists, but there’s a hiring freeze, so the job cannot yet be publicized.
**The opening is still “in the pipeline;” it’s unofficial, so it cannot yet be publicized.

Techniques for penetrating unpublicized openings like the foregoing is the subject of the second feature in Quintessential Careers’ hidden job market package (, How to Tap Into Jobs in the Unpublicized Employment Market.

Experts speculated on the size of the market and, in a sidebar feature in Quintessential Careers’ hidden job market package (, shared plenty of anecdotes in which job-seekers obtained jobs that had not been advertised. The only definitive statistics on the size of the market come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in a regularly issued report called Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS. The Quintessential Careers’ hidden job market report explains that, while determining the size of the hidden job market from these statistics depends on how the stats are interpreted, what they include, and the state of the economy, they clearly suggest the existence of the hidden job market.

“Regardless of the size of the hidden/unpublicized job market,” said Quintessential Careers Associate Publisher Katharine Hansen. “The evidence is clear that networking is crucial to job-search success and remains the most effective way to land a new job. Job-seekers should consider tapping unpublicized jobs as just one tool in the job-search kit,” said Hansen, who wrote the three hidden job market features.

About Quintessential Careers: For more than 14 years, this comprehensive career development site has been empowering job-seekers of all ages find their ideal careers and jobs. With more than 4,500 pages of content -- from articles, quizzes, and tutorials -- Quintessential Careers offers visitors no-cost content that can improve their lives.

About Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D. and Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.: Randall Hansen is the founder and publisher of Quintessential Careers. Katharine Hansen is associate publisher and creative director for the site. Both have been involved in the career industry for more than 25 years.

Quintessential Careers/
Dr. Randall Hansen