Nabbing a Job While It’s Still in the Pipeline

by Beverly Harvey

Have you ever conducted a job-search and thought to yourself that there must be more job openings than those found through online job searches? Guess what? You’re right! If you are simply searching online, you are missing out on as many as four times the job leads – job leads that go unposted publicly.

A significant reason for not publicizing an opening is that the job is still in the pipeline. The late career-marketing coach Mark Hovind asserted that most jobs start out hidden, known only to the decision-maker. The employer recognizes a need and decides to create a job, but the vacancy, for various reasons, is not official. Perhaps the skills needed for the job haven’t been identified. Maybe the job description hasn’t been developed. Possibly the budget to fund the position hasn’t yet been worked out. Whatever the reason, the opening isn’t ready for prime time and can’t yet be publicized.

The hiring process is a long and winding road – as long as 12-18 months – that begins when a hiring manager requests a new position or when a current employee leaves his or her current position. The first step is getting approval to fund (or continue funding) the position and approving the recruitment plan. What happens next is a multi-stage process that eventually leads to a public job posting if all other measures are unsuccessful.

During the initial time of the request the manager starts asking around among his or her trusted employees for referrals. After all, if you were the manager, wouldn’t you rather hire someone known and recommended to you via a colleague than an anonymous candidate submitting a resume?

Once funding has been approved, the next step is an internal job posting, again with the intent of finding an internal candidate to promote and usually publicized internally for about 7-10 days. At this stage, hiring managers may also contact their network and inquire about possible external candidates (referrals).

This stage is especially crucial for a candidate who wants to get in on an opportunity early. Only after failing to find someone to fill the need through referrals will the manager write a job description and begin to advertise the job.

The implication for the job-seeker is that a strong, thriving network can alert you to pipeline jobs. The goal is to reach hiring managers before they opt to publicize the opening. If you are constantly adding contacts to your network, and telling members of your network what you’re looking for, sooner or later, you will likely encounter a network contact who responds with, “Oh, my company is planning to hire someone like you, but the job hasn’t been posted yet.” When that happens, you can ask your contact to refer you to the hiring manager, perhaps even deliver your resume personally to him or her.

The beauty of this scenario is that if you make contact with the hiring manager while the job is still in the pipeline, you will have virtually no competition. Once the hiring manager starts asking for internal referrals – and especially when he or she posts the position to the public – competition will increase exponentially.

If you need help finding those pipeline jobs, consider coaching with us.

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