Get offline and get out more: Tips for tapping into Calgary's 'hidden' job market

Students and recent graduates should get off their computers and hit the pavement if they want to find employment in the "hidden job market," says a Calgary expert.

80 per cent of jobs are not posted online, says Calgary youth job expert

Recent grads and students looking for employment this summer need to start networking more and dropping into the offices of potential employers. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

Students and recent graduates should get off their computers and hit the pavement if they want to find employment in the "hidden job market," says a Calgary expert.

"Eighty per cent of jobs are not posted online," says Amelia Fick, youth employment coordinator at Bow Valley College.

The college is holding a Career Boost job fair on its north campus that is open to anyone on Thursday until 3:30 p.m. 

"If 80 per cent of jobs are not online, you don't want to be spending your time doing that, you want to be spending your time out of the house, job searching, cold calling, showing up," Fick told the Calgary Eyeopener on Thursday.

Connections and word of mouth

As for the 20 per cent of positions that are posted online, Fick says, "A lot of those jobs aren't really real jobs. They have an internal candidate, but just have to show they posted it."

A Calgary job expert says only 20 per cent of jobs are posted online. (Shutterstock)

To tap into the hidden job market, people need to learn to sell themselves to potential employers "through connections, word of mouth and mentoring … even if it's through family and friends," Fick says. 

"It's going to take a little extra finessing for these new graduates entering into the job market. It's going to be a combination of networking, references, really getting out there, a little perseverance."

She also advises setting up a profile on LinkedIn, the employment and social networking site.

Job-seekers also need to be aware that many companies are using applicant tracking systems that toss aside resumes that don't have the exact key words an employer is looking for. 

"They are geared at taking 500 applications down to a manageable size, to 20, so someone can actually look at them," said Fick.

Despite numbers, it's not impossible

Recent statistics show that 40 per cent of new grads are not finding work in their field or they are underemployed. That's also trickling down to other youth who haven't finished high school.

"So a grocery store job is now being filled by someone with a degree," says Fick.

Unemployment for the under 15 to 24 demographic is 14.1 per cent. The average unemployment rate for 25-plus is 8.4 per cent in Alberta. Among young men, the jobless rate is 18.2 per cent.

Despite the numbers, Fick says, it's not impossible and it's not too late in the year to find a job. Some student internships are funded by federal summer job grants and the funding was only recently released. 

More job-hunting tips from Fick: 

  • Don't be afraid to sell yourself. Show up at a potential employer's office, and if you're told you have to apply online, tell them "I already did," says Fick. Then tell them you want to talk to a manager so you can introduce yourself and put a face to a name. The worst that can happen is they say no.
  • Take advantage of family and friend connections.
  • Enrol in job-search programs offered by Bow Valley College and other post-secondary institutions.
  • Don't dismiss unpaid internships or volunteering. You might end up hearing about a job that's coming up.
  • Remind your contacts you're still out there. Send an article related to their line of work. Don't say much, just "I thought this might interest you."
  • Learn the art of resilience. Stay motivated and continue on even when you do hear "no" a million times.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener