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There's a hidden job market. Here's how to tap into it.

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When Addie Swartz was first starting her career, the market was rough. “There just weren’t any jobs. No one was hiring,” she says. With her search in high gear, Swartz left no stone unturned and would often check the newspaper for job listings. Occasionally she’d get distracted by the wedding announcements, and that’s where she found it — no, not her happily-ever-after — her job. “I saw the bride was working at a company in my area, but the announcement said they were moving to New York. I just assumed that her position would be opening up, so I called, met the right people, and got the job.”

Welcome to the hidden job market — the jobs swirling right below the surface. Some don’t exactly exist yet, but they will soon. Others, like the one Swartz was hired for at reachHIRE, a company that works with organizations to promote a gender-diverse workforce, simply have yet to be vacated. Experts say that today it’s increasingly possible to access job listings before they’re made public, and meet hiring managers before they have a position to fill — and you don’t have to scour marriage announcements to do it. You just have to take these steps.

What — and where — is the hidden job market?

In September or October of every year, managers at companies with more than 100 employees usually have a pretty good idea of how many people they want to hire for the following 12 months. They aren’t going to hire everyone at once, however. Instead, they’re going to roll out their new hires slowly over the course of the year, explains Dave Denaro, Vice President of career consulting firm Keystone Partners. All of those openings represent the hidden market. The jobs exist, they just aren’t being advertised or promoted yet. “All those new hires will have to be trained and paid, so companies aren’t going to go through the strain of having them all start at the same time,” Denaro says.

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