My Experience as a Desperate Job Seeker

CW Fong
3 min readMar 29, 2021

I was retrenched early this year and have been looking for a job since. I am not young and being rather senior in my industry, I must say that it is near impossible for someone like me to find a job. Companies would rather promote from within. I am just thankful that my bosses had the decency to retrench me after the Chinese New Year.

Since my retrenchment, I literally sent out 5 resumes a day. That works out to more than 250 job applications in the past 10 months and I only succeeded in getting 3 interviews. After each interview, I was left with the impression that the employers already had somebody in mind and that meeting candidates was just a show to let people know that they have found their “ideal’ candidate.

Puzzled, and desperate, I spoke with friends in the HR industry and they told me about the “hidden job market”.

We are all very familiar with the formal job market. In this market, a company has a vacancy and so HR creates a job description, posts an ad on the Internet, and receives a pile of resumes to fill the position. Unbeknownst to many (including myself), there is a hidden/ informal job market that works in parallel to the formal job market.

In the informal market, jobs are filled even before they are advertised — just like what I experienced during my 3 job interviews. What usually happens is that before a job is made public (and sometimes before it even exists), someone other than HR knows about it. It could be a new position being created due to restructuring, or a vacancy due to a colleague’s resignation. The HR department hasn’t even started recruiting, but your contact knows that you would be a perfect match for the role. As life is often not so much what you know but who you know, a referral from a contact within the company will put you at the front of the hiring line before there is even an official position available.

Job seekers can and must tap on the hidden job market to find unadvertised job openings. In fact, studies have shown that 60 to 70 percent of all jobs are found through the informal job market. Beyond sending resumes for jobs listed on job search and corporate websites, if you want a job (especially senior positions), it is time to get out there and network. Networking is what will give you a shot at finding a job.

Since I discovered the existence of the hidden job market a month ago, I have been busy meeting and making contacts. I am happy to say that it has paid off and I am scheduled to attend my third and final round of interview for a position that has yet to be advertised. For those who hate networking, start by joining less aggressive networking groups. Chances are, your next job (or big break), will come from your social networks.

Remember, “your network is your net-worth”.

CW Fong

I blog therefore I am. Passionate about #Singapore, #Leadership, #PublicRelations, #SocialMedia, #Marketing, and #PersonalDevelopment. Above all, I do no evil