In today’s rapidly evolving job market, especially at the senior executive or C-suite level, the traditional avenues of job searching – while still relevant – can overlook the vast, untapped potential of the hidden job market. Many skilled professionals, though highly capable and equipped with a wealth of experience, often find themselves at a crossroads when it comes to leveraging their professional network for new opportunities. This hesitation commonly stems from a past reliance on headhunters or direct approaches by decision-makers, a testament to their well-earned reputation and results.

My Approach to Networking for Job Opportunities

Reflecting upon my experience advising Think Bespoke clients, a poignant moment of validation for my philosophy on networking came from a former CEO. After discussing my approach, he shared, “I paid a considerable sum to a coach for guidance on securing board roles. Your insights in our brief conversation provided me with more value than a year’s worth of coaching.” Such feedback underscores the benefits in adopting a strategic and considerate approach to networking.

The Strategy: A Five-Step Guide for How to Tap into the Hidden Job Market

Step 1: Building Your Contact List

Start by compiling a list of your professional acquaintances—individuals in high-level positions such as CEOs, CFOs, and Board Chairs, among others. It’s crucial to approach these contacts not with direct job requests but with a mindset oriented toward mutual benefit and respect for their time and contributions.

Step 2: Crafting Your LinkedIn Message

Whether you’re reconnecting or establishing a new connection on LinkedIn, personalise your message. Begin with a nod to their recent achievements or position changes, and express genuine interest in their current endeavours. This approach fosters a connection beyond a transactional relationship.

Step 3: The Elegance of “The Ask”

Upon receiving a response, propose a brief chat, focusing on industry insights or advice rather than directly seeking job leads. Frame this request around your interest in their perspective on industry trends or challenges. This tactful approach often opens doors to deeper conversations.

Step 4: Cementing the Chat

The essence of this step is to avoid appearing as merely seeking employment. Instead, position yourself as an engaged industry peer seeking wisdom and insights. This subtle nuance in approach can significantly alter the willingness of your contact to engage in a meaningful dialogue.

Step 5: Navigating the Chat

Prepare to steer the conversation towards industry developments, shared experiences, and potential opportunities, all while subtly weaving in your career aspirations and openness to new challenges. This strategy ensures the dialogue remains informative, engaging, and mutually beneficial.

Following Up: The Unspoken Step

After your conversation, the goal is to leave a lasting impression that keeps you at the forefront of their mind for relevant opportunities. However, the key lies not in direct follow-ups for job inquiries but in nurturing a professional relationship built on genuine connection and interest.

Networking, especially for those at a pivotal point in their career, demands a blend of strategy, sincerity, and the ability to see beyond immediate gains. By adopting a mindful and human-centric approach, you not only enrich your professional network but also position yourself effectively within the hidden job market.

Receive my musings direct to your inbox

Thank you for signing up. Future musings will be sent directly to your inbox.