by Miriam Salpeter
Many jobseekers mistakenly think that simply spending time on job boards, applying for numerous positions, will increase their chances of landing opportunities. Unfortunately for these dutiful but misinformed candidates, a recent USAToday.com article indicates that “good companies get 30% to 50% of their hires from employee referrals.” The Wall Street Journal concurs, noting, “as hiring picks up, more companies are revamping their employee-referral programs. The trend offers fresh avenues—and fresh challenges—for frustrated job seekers.”
How can jobseekers increase their chances of being referred for job opportunities?
The simple (and not-so-simple) answer is networking. Although sometimes considered a dirty word by those who think of it as using people to get ahead, networking has taken on a whole new meaning in today’s ultra-competitive market, where there are too many qualified candidates for every opening. In order to sift through the hundreds of resumes that they typically receive for each position, many companies have turned to hiring via referral as the go-to strategy, fast-tracking the search for suitable employees.
An upside of hiring via referral is that many companies offer monetary rewards to referrers of candidates who ultimately get hired. For those hesitant to dive into networking, this compensation makes the dynamic mutually beneficial. Qualified jobseekers may now find that contacts in their personal network may be actively looking for them, as well.
So, how can a jobseeker successfully network in today’s job market?
- Don’t underestimate the value of connections. Anyone can be a potential source of information, and sometimes, the least likely contact can point a jobseeker to a great opportunity.
- Take advantage of social networking tools to increase the number of people who know what jobseekers have to offer and what they are looking for. LinkedIn is the platform of choice for many professionals. Having a well-developed LinkedIn profile, and actively growing the size and strength of a network, will open up new opportunities and increase the chances of winning a referral.
- Facebook, with over 500 million active users, is a great place to extend a professional network. A jobseeker can easily let friends know their career and job search goals. According to Facebook, an average user has over 130 friends, each of whom has an average of 130 friends. That’s an instant—and quite large—network of possible contacts. Jobseekers need to make sure their profiles are networking-ready by keeping nonprofessional content locked behind customized privacy settings or adding prospective contacts to a “limited profile” list. This will help ensure that no embarrassing images or information winds up on a prospective employer’s screen.
- Twitter provides opportunities to connect with people in just about every field imaginable. Search for keywords or hashtags (a search term with # in front of it) to find people tweeting about jobs or areas of interest. Don’t just read their updates—engage them in conversations about the industry.
- Targeted Networking. Jobseekers can use Job & Career Accelerator’s job search engine to find desired jobs, and then use their networks to identify possible contacts at those companies—to answer questions, set up informational interviews, make referrals, or get insider information to help customize their cover letters and resumes.
Remember—using every resource available to jobseekers will increase their chances of having successful job searches!