Survey: Employee Referrals No. 1 Tool for New Hires
If you're looking for a job, forget sending out hundreds of resumes.
Instead, tap into your network of family, neighbors, college friends, Facebook friends -- really, anyone who could help you get a foot in the door at companies where you'd like to work.
Using your network is the smart way to go because when businesses are looking for candidates, they rely on employee referrals more than job boards or any other source, according to a new report from CareerXRoads, a recruiting industry consulting firm.
In 2011, employee referrals accounted for 28 percent of new hires, followed by job boards (20.1 percent), career pages on company websites (9.8 percent), recruiters (9.1 percent) and college campus interviews (6.6 percent), according to CareerXRoads.
[Related: Are You a Connector?]
The remaining 26.4 percent of new hires came from a combination of social media, rehires, job fairs, walk-ins and other sources. The firm based its findings on a January 2012 survey of 200 midsized and larger U.S. companies, which together hired more than 213,000 new employees in 2011.
Play the Game
If you're looking for a career change, it's helpful to know how corporate recruiters locate potential new hires, the better to focus your own job-hunting efforts, says Mark Mehler, CareerXRoads' chief strategist and co-founder.
When it comes to job hunting, however, many people are clueless about what's effective, Mehler says. "They have one plain vanilla resume they think they can use for every job they apply to. They won't apply for any job that's more than 45 minutes from where they live when today there are many jobs that they could do from home or go in for a few days a week."
[Related: 12 Steps to a Smart Resume]
The key, he says, is to find a job that's a match for your skills, unearth someone who works at the company, ask them for a referral and apply. "Don't worry about what it pays. Don't worry about the title. Don't worry about the location. Your main concern is selling yourself to the employer."
To improve your chances if you're invited for an interview, walk in with the latest "technology toy" in your hand and put it on the interviewer's desk where the manager can see it, Mehler says. "You need this trick if you have a little gray in your hair, because you can now be seen as someone who understands the latest and greatest out there."
More Job Search Tips
Here's what else Mehler suggests job seekers do to better their odds of getting hired:
1. Seek alternatives to blind job ads. According to CareerXRoads' survey, companies hire one in 10 job candidates who come from employee referrals, and at some companies it's as low as one in four. "Why would you want to be one of 300 or 400" who get hired by submitting a resume to a blind job board posting, Mehler asks. That's as good a reason as any to use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to network with people who could provide you with an in, he says.
2. Use job boards for research. In recruiting circles, it's fashionable to maintain that job boards such as Monster.com and Indeed.com are dying, but that's not the case. Companies are still posting jobs, and job seekers are still using them to apply for positions. However, Mehler recommends using job boards more as information-gathering tools. If you see a position that looks interesting, go to the company's website or your network on LinkedIn to find out more about it. Learn as much as you can about what the job entails, as well as the company's workplace environment and culture. Then find someone to give you a referral and apply directly.
3. Make the most of company website career pages. Most company websites have a careers section that lists job openings and related employment information. If you can't find a link to employment opportunities on the home page, a Google or Bing search will usually uncover the information. One note: Companies often post job listings internally with a lot more corporate mumbo jumbo than the listings they post on public job boards for the same position. If your web searches uncover one of these internal listings, ask your company insider friend to decode the language for you, Mehler says.
4. Help recruiters find you. You can't control when a recruiter will contact you, but you can make it easier for them to find you. Stay active on social networks, and include your contact information in your LinkedIn and other profiles. Like everyone else, recruiters are using more email, instant messaging, texts and tweets these days -- but they still pick up the phone when they want to talk to someone they're really interested in, Mehler says.
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