The Informal Job Market - And Why It Matters.

Michael Ellsberg: There is something called the informal job market versus the formal job market.  The formal job market is the one you hear about where you see job ads and it says—usually it will say “Bachelor’s required; Master’s degree preferred.”  So you see that and you think, “Oh well, I need a Bachelor’s degree to get a job.”  Well, that is happening on what is called the formal job market, which is really only about 20% of hiring.  

Most people who track this believe that about 80% of hiring happens on what is called the 
informal job market, which is essentially . . . somebody knows somebody, the boss needs a position filled, they ask their employees who would be good to fill this position, and the employees have referrals.  And in that vastly larger informal market, traditional 
credentials are much, much less important than who you know, and usually the notion of job requirements is highly negotiable.  If you know somebody who knows somebody who works in an organization that is hiring, you can get a referral and it doesn’t really matter what your GPA was or how you did on your tests or your credentials.  What matters is that you have a great resume of results that you have gotten in the real world and that you’re a good networker, that you know people.


So I would say to young people, the things you should really be focusing on are learning how to become a great networker.  That, to me, is the number one skill, and of course also learning the skills of the area that you want to do business in, to have a career in, which you’re unlikely to learn in college.

Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

80% of hiring happens on the informal job market, says Michael Ellsberg. His advice for job-seekers? Network, network, network.

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