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Are 80% of jobs unadvertised and, therefore, part of a so-called hidden job market?

Steven Rothberg AvatarSteven Rothberg
April 13, 2023

A decade ago, I was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying that about 80 percent of job openings are not advertised. Some refer to these job openings as being a part of a hidden job market.

In 2013, I believed that the 80 percent number was pretty accurate. It wasn’t based on a scientific study, but was more of a consensus opinion from a wide variety of people in the staffing, recruiting, and job board industries. Is it still accurate a decade later in 2023? I doubt it.

I suspect that most jobs are now advertised, at least in the U.S. as the technology and pricing models have evolved tremendously over the past few years. 

Cost-per-click greatly reduces the cost and risk for an employer to advertise a job as they can now do so for literally pennies or a few dollars instead of hundreds of dollars for a month.

Also, programmatic job ad distribution allows employers to run ads only until they receive a certain number of clicks to the employer’s career site, applications, or some other metric. Again, that allows the employer to spend a lot less money and, therefore, greatly increases the likelihood that they’ll choose to advertise the job.

Finally, almost all job boards now scrape jobs — usually with permission — from employer sites or receive feeds of jobs (sometimes referred to as job wrapping), which greatly reduces the amount of time that employers spend posting the ads, which also greatly reduces the effective cost of advertising a job.

If I had to guess, I’d say at least 60 and probably more like 80 percent of jobs are now advertised in the U.S. for at least hours, often days, and sometimes weeks.

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