“The Hidden Job market is not a trend, an industry myth, or a fiction created by career coaches—it’s a very real and present market that’s determining who wins in the career game and who loses.”
– Chris Campbell

The Hidden Job Market & the Public Job Market: perhaps you’ve heard of them. However, if you haven’t, that’s ok too—because you’re not alone. Even some of the most ambitious professionals draw a blank when I bring these two terms up in conversation, and that’s why I’ve created this go-to guide. Because whether or not you’re currently looking for a job, understanding the Hidden & Public Job Markets is crucial for the success of your career. Let’s begin!

Let’s start with the basics.

The Public Job market, by definition, is public. That means that anyone with an internet connection can access it. This market comprises of job boards like Indeed and Monster, company websites, and any other place jobs are posted online. If you can do a Google search and pull up a job listing, it’s on the public job market. Anything that a million other people can access is by definition public.

The Hidden job market is, you guessed it, Hidden. In contrast to the Public Job Market, it’s comprised of jobs that are much harder to see and find, but often significantly higher quality and quantity. That doesn’t mean they’re impossible to find; it simply means you need connections and to start conversations to land them, or even to uncover them.

This is how it works, in the most basic of terms. Jobs on the Public Job Market are applied to by countless professionals. On average, this Forbes article cites an average of about 118 applicants per job listed. I’d even venture to say that it’s more than that at this point. These job applications are received by algorithms, AKA, robots. Even if your resume is tailored to perfection with key words, there’s still a chance you won’t make the cut. Placing your resume into the Public job market is akin to tossing it into a black hole. Plain and simple.

The Hidden Job Market is where most of the golden job opportunities are. The people who have access to them are limited. Even if these job opportunities are listed on a Public Job Market forum (like Monster.com) they will still likely be filled from a referral vs. someone who applied online. Here’s a stat to knock your socks off: 80% of jobs that are filled are NEVER listed publicly. Those are bad odds, and winners don’t waste their time with bad odds.

By the way, just knowing about these two separate markets already puts you at an advantage when looking for your next position.

By the way, just knowing  about these two separate markets already puts you at an advantage when looking for your next position.


A brief history of why it used to be great to submit your resume into online job postings, and why it’s a terrible idea now:

Once upon a time, back in the late 90’s, you could upload your resume to Monster.com and have an interview faster than you could sing a Christina Aguilera song. The market was sizzling and essentially, if you were breathing, you probably had a job.

It only took a few years that the online job posting marketplace became crazily oversaturated, and the heyday of easy job acquisition was over. Game over.

As more and more of the public job market hiring process becomes automated, the less and less functional it becomes. In short: too many applicants, too many gatekeepers (AKA robots sorting through resumes) and too many ways for your hard-earned experience to get noticed.

So, who are these “connections” you need to have in order to crack the Hidden Job Market?

Examples of Hidden Job Market connections include:



Your existing professional networks:

  • Former colleagues
  • Former bosses
  • Professional mentors
  • Alumnus from your school
  • Freelance clients you’ve worked with
  • Professionals from internships you’ve had

Your existing personal networks:

  • Friends who care about your career
  • Well connected friends & family
  • Personal mentors

External + internal recruiters who operate in your industry or job niche