By Mary Sherwood Sevinsky
If you are looking for work you, no doubt, have heard of THE HIDDEN JOB MARKET. You may have even heard TOO MUCH of it. I know that in working with my clients in Delaware and Maryland, I include the Hidden Job Market in nearly every vocational counseling session… Why? Here is a recent success story that illustrates just WHY THE HIDDEN JOB MARKET IS CRUCIAL TO JOB SEARCH:
I have been working with a career electrician for several months. He came to me following a very serious electrocution that resulted in not only permanent physical injuries, but traumatic brain injury and self confidence issues as well.
He is personable, conscientious, and has good knowledge of all the trades as his work as an electrician involved some carpentry, masonry, and roofing skills. In addition, he worked closely with plumbers, who were often involved on builds at about the same time as the electricians. He had some supervisory experience.
We decided it made sense to investigate construction related supervisory, sales, and estimating opportunities. He had learned how to organize his thoughts, activities, and efforts in his Traumatic Brain Injury therapy and was able to progress to the point where his memory and confusion issues were no longer evident in the first 3 months or so of our work together.
We undertook an extensive job search effort and found plenty of opportunities for construction supervisor and manager positions. Unfortunately, all of the opportunities required hands on work as well. Due to the economy, employers are often asking employees to perform duties previously required in more than one job. This meant that there were even fewer supervision – only positions out there.
After several months of unsatisfying job search, my client noted there were many IT jobs advertised and he wondered if he should look at changing career fields. We discussed this and considered:
- His previous wages (relatively high considering no college)
- The fact that he has a wife and three children to support
- A new career would mean starting out at a lower wage
- A formal training program would keep him out of the labor market even longer
- Most short term IT training primarily benefits those with computer experience
After careful consideration, we decided to expand our job search and include computer related jobs. In addition, my ambitious client began studying for A+ certification from a book he borrowed from the library. Most of the jobs identified for which he could qualify appeared to be customer service related help desk positions. The pay was not what we would like.
Mr. Client suggested that perhaps computer service tech might be something he could do. He knew about schematics, blueprints, electricity, wiring, and had upgraded and repaired his own, his family’s and his churches computers over the years. He felt he was well suited to this. The issue: We didn’t find a lot of jobs advertised for this type of work.
I provided him with a list of companies to cold call – all of which might employ computer service technicians. If nothing else, we could obtain more information about what employers are looking for and offering in terms of wages. Either it would be something he could pursue or we could rule this out as a potential job target.
Meanwhile months have passed – a total of six frustrating and, somewhat discouraging months. I counseled him to stay positive. I provided him with articles on how the hiring process has lengthened due to the new economy. We reinforced the progress he had made in his self-confidence and presentation, not to mention organization and attention to detail.
I underlined the importance of activty above all else and assured him that if we continued to make good contacts, to follow up, and to remember the HIDDEN JOB MARKET we would be succussful. In addition to the list of companies that might employ computer service technicians, we also began COLD CALLING electrical related companies.
He is a trooper and approached his cold calls with dedication and seriousness. The result? This is the BEST PART:
He contacted a small company not far from his home to inquire about the possibility of being considered for a service technician position. The employer wasn’t hiring, but was impressed by his follow up calls when my client had left a message for, but not received a return call from the employer. The employer had about a fifteen minute conversation with him on the telephone.
Needless to say, this was VERY encouraging to my client. He developed this relationship to the point where the employer asked him to come in to meet with him – not an interview, he clearly stated. No agenda. They talked for an hour and a half. My client sent a thank you note. The employer asked him to come in for another meeting, he had “an idea.”
The employer informed him he had been thinking about how to expand his business and “help his clients into the 21st century.” He saw my client as a manager/sales person that could help him do this. What did he think?
Well…. Neither of us had considered pursuing a position as a manager/sales person with a computer software and hardware company. He was an electrician – wasn’t he? We are waiting for a final meeting to hear details of the job and wages offered for this position being created for my client as a result of a cold call in an attempt to tap into THE HIDDEN JOB MARKET.
I have returned many clients to work as a result of accessing, either directly (cold calls) or indirectly (networking), but cannot think of any other ocassion when a job was created as a result of a cold call. My client is very excited about this opportunity in a new field and I will no longer feel like a broken record preaching about THE HIDDEN JOB MARKET….Amen!
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