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Archive for October, 2010

Job Referrals are Best Sources of Hiring Opportunities

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

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!

Networking without Strangers

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

A mistake that many career experts often fall into is talking about networking like it’s the easiest thing in the world. “Need a job? Just introduce yourself to complete strangers and ask them to hire you!” It’s important to realize that for many jobseekers, networking is a bit more intimidating. One doesn’t have to be a complete introvert to find the concept of networking scary. For starters, there’s that whole “introducing yourself to complete strangers” thing. There’s also the sense of imbalance that many jobseekers feel — as if they’re asking people for help without offering anything in return.

First, the bad news — if a jobseeker finds meeting new people difficult, it probably won’t ever get easier. But here’s some good news — contacting and meeting strangers is not really what networking is. The most effective type of networking for landing a job is targeted networking. This means helping jobseekers recognize and use the connections they already have to find new job opportunities.

So how do you help jobseekers do this? A great starting point is advising them to e-mail family, friends, and anyone they may know — or who may know someone else — in their chosen field. Personalized e-mails are more effective; a mass e-mail with many recipients is almost guaranteed to be ignored. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are great resources for letting a large number of people in the jobseeker’s circle know that he or she is looking.

Jobseekers may find people in their networks who are involved in their prospective career fields but do not know of any current job opportunities. In this case, suggest that a jobseeker ask for that person’s help with setting up an informational interview with someone who currently has the position they want. An informational interview lets the jobseeker learn more about the daily ins and outs of the job, and broadens his or her network to include people already working in the field. Even if this person’s company isn’t hiring, he or she may know of other companies that are looking to hire.

Using a jobseeker’s personal network in conjunction with Job & Career Accelerator’s job search engine is another powerful avenue for landing a job. Jobseekers can use Job & Career Accelerator to target specific job opportunities and, prior to applying, contact their personal networks for references or extended contacts in the targeted company. After first setting up an informational interview with a key contact, any further communications can be directed to that person instead of a nonspecific “to whom it may concern,” and the applicant’s cover letter and resume are less likely to get lost in the fray. Plus, the details gleaned from an informational interview can help a jobseeker create more specific, effective cover letters and resumes. Remind jobseekers to always send thank you e-mails to anyone who grants them an interview, and to keep new contacts updated on the progress of their job hunt, in case new connections or opportunities materialize in the future.

Once the ball is rolling, jobseekers just have to keep in touch with the people they’ve met and see where the new connections lead!