Career changers are confronted by lots of scary ideas. One of these is the ‘sticky stat’ that 80% of jobs never get advertised. It is certainly true that people ‘in the know’ fill lots of brilliant career openings that never get advertised. However the 80% statistic is a relic of the ‘pre-Internet’ 1980s‘ and is now is seriously dodgy. While estimates vary, research suggests that around 40% of jobs are currently advertised in online ads and job boards.

Although the ‘80% hidden job market’ myth is busted, over 70% of employers still begin hunting for talent internally and in their immediate networks. As Career Advisor Rich Grant noted in an article on LinkedIn,

‘Even though most jobs are not hidden today, that doesn’t mean that the market is totally open and transparent. The job market can be compared to a gated community where you need to know someone to get through the gate.’

Approaching both the web based and real world ‘gated communities’ with skill and confidence is key. So how do you crack the ‘gated’ job market?

When you are changing career the traditional job market can throw up a few hurdles. It is hard to not get pigeonholed by your CV and previous experience when your CV is a list of things you don’t want to do anymore.

Improve your chances of ‘getting though the gate’ by presenting your credentials ‘in person’. Create opportunities to get yourself in front of people rather than letting them form a first impression based on your CV or written expression of interest. While they may be impressed by past achievements, it’s tough to convey why you’re changing careers on paper. It’s also tricky to show how transferable your skills and experience could be new contexts.

Getting yourself in front of people first, rather than them seeing a piece of paper first, is the best way to build contacts, express your skills and relevance to the job and show how you can offer value.

Make the first move

Don’t wait for a job to magically appear. Apply for jobs online, and be proactive about getting out into the world and see what you find.

When I was between roles I went for coffee with a woman working in a company that really interested me. I simply wanted to find out more about the company, the industry and the range of available roles. At the end of our conversation she told me she was leaving at the end of the week. Then she asked if I wanted to meet the CEO to talk about taking over! The role was never advertised, I was simply right place at the right time.

Grow your knowledge and network

You never know when or where you’ll encounter someone who knows about:

  • a job (advertised or otherwise) that you’d love
  • a company that shares your values and view of the world
  • an industry you’ve never considered that just might fit your bill
  • some really useful information on the challenges in your industry, what’s next in the area you work in or who else it would be good for you to connect with

Have coffee and ‘intentional conversation’ with interesting people. Go prepared, ask great questions. Join MeetUp groups and attend industry and community events packed with people doing things you’re drawn towards.

Remember that your friends know lots of people! All of us have about 150 people in our network. Each of them is connected to another 150 people. That’s around 22,500 people just one step away from you. Tell your friends who and what you’re looking for and where you want to work. Give them a clear picture of your ideal work environment as well as the areas you’re exploring. Be up front about asking for help to connect. This is less challenging to do if you remember that most people love to help if they can.

Stand out and stay in touch

Network to gather information AND offer something of yourself. Ask about the challenges in someone’s role and organisation. If you feel you could help, ask about what’s needed and what’s possible. Could you provide information, advice, or a service? This is a great way to get some experience, build your network and show your value.


Follow up on coffee and chats and conversations at conferences. Drop your new contacts a ‘thank you’ note. Mention something key to your conversation to help them picture you in a sea of unfamiliar faces. Send them an interesting article, invite them to a networking or learning event. Add them to your LinkedIn network so they’ll see the useful information you share there.

Stay quietly on their radar so they’ll think of you if a role arises.

So it turns out the percentage split between online and offline job marketing is around 40/60. This means your next career move is likely to start anywhere- in a café, at a conference or on SEEK or MeetUp.

By Jo Green, Career Change Coach

I help people who don’t like their job to figure out what to do instead! I can help you explore what meaningful work is for you. I’ll work with you to lessen the stress of changing careers.

Drop me a note to organise a free 20 minute consultation to chat about your career change and how coaching could help.

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