It is a well known fact using job boards exclusively as you conduct a job search will leave you confounded and frustrated. Sure you might be qualified for the positions for which you are applying - but posting your résumé online is like trying to find a needle in a haystack - a really, really big haystack.

So what exactly is this thing called 'the hidden job market'? The hidden job market consists of openings not directly advertised. More and more companies are relying on their employees and specialized, niche sites to identify qualified candidates. What is the reason for this? With the big job boards, there are a lot of unqualified candidates positing résumés and applying for positions for which they are not qualified. In an effort to cut to the chase, as it were, employers are trying to create a system whereby they can identify a pool of qualified and viable candidates more quickly. It's very time consuming to sort through hundreds of résumés to find one or two candidates that might be suitable for an opening.

According to recent data from the Labor Department, there are approximately 14 million people unemployed with over five job seekers per available position. The result is people applying for things that they are over qualified for, under qualified for, or not qualified for at all.

Here are some tips to help you tap into the hidden job market:

Networking should be an integral part of any job search. Also consider searching smaller job boards, including those that might be specific to a city or region. Look at sites supported by networking groups or associations. As I have mentioned in previous posts, LinkedIn is a great resource that will enable you to identify relevant connections and facilitate your job search. There are also associations on Facebook you can join that will give you additional access to people and positions.

Writing to the Right Person: I know it can be difficult to obtain the name of a person responsible for hiring. You can begin by calling the company and asking for the name of the head of a particular department or the head of human resources. At least when you send your letter, it won't be to To whom it may concern. Once you send your written correspondence, you can then call and ask for the person by name. You will be more likely to reach someone before 9:00am or after 5:00pm when other staff who might answer the phone is gone.

Recruiters: Recruiters can be a great source of information - especially now. Do some research regarding recruiters that specialize in your field. Establish and nurture those relationships. Recruiters have their fingers on the pulse of what is going on within the hiring community. Let them help you uncover the right opportunities.

Volunteer Your Time: Volunteering can do a couple of things for you. Aside from making you feel good by giving back to a good cause, volunteering will allow you access to new people. Those people know people too! You can create an entirely new network for yourself. You never know what you might uncover.

It boils down to your continued diligence; contact people, establish relationships, and knock on as many doors as you can to generate interest in your background. You never know where a conversation (online or otherwise) might lead!