It’s Still Who You Know

Networking has traditionally been the most effective method of job hunting, coming in ahead of mailing/emailing resumes in response to job advertisements or postings. Most people think of networking from the job seeker’s point of view – talking to people you know to find open positions. Something you may not realize — networking works better for the employer, too, essentially for the same reason. Locating candidates by word of mouth is proving more effective.

With unemployment in double digits, employers are swamped with applicants the instant they post a single job on the Internet. Whether it is an advertisement on a job board or a position posted on their own company website, resumes start pouring in to the resume database or email boxes.

Recently, a senior facilities maintenance position was posted for a large research organization in the Southeast. Within 1 hour, the HR department had over 300 applicants for this position, some suitable but many not even remotely qualified. Anyone and everyone seemed to be applying in hopes of getting an interview and possibly a job with this prestigious and well-paying organization. The applicant pool grew and grew until it was simply too large to handle by the hiring manager. The tsunami of job seekers flooded the HR department!

At that point, the HR manager decided to fill the position solely by word-of-mouth, because publicly advertising the position nearly crashed the servers. The position was withdrawn from the website and posted on the company’s internal website. Postings were put up in break rooms around the facility. Instead of thousands of applicants who might or might not be qualified, the HR manager received 46 applicants who were referred by current employees. Those 46 applicants were all fairly well qualified, and she was able to narrow the field quickly to ten prime candidates to interview. The original attempt at filling the position through advertisement was much less efficient, more costly, and too time consuming so she filled the position more by “asking around” instead.

Technology was originally applied to job search during the 1990’s to make hiring easier. In some situations, however, it’s made it more difficult. HR managers spend a great deal of time learning to use technology more efficiently rather than spending time on the hiring itself. Technology opens positions to applicants globally rather than just locally or regionally; therefore, the potential applicant pool is automatically larger in scope. Add in a tough economy and that pool grows even larger and more aggressive. Some hiring managers are dropping back to word-of-mouth sourcing for really good open positions.

The moral of this story for the job seeker is to pay attention to who you know. Your network is your most precious asset. Make sure you nurture it at all times, even when you are happily employed. Use social media and technology to connect on a regular basis, but don’t neglect face time with people to keep your network in prime condition. People hire people. Networking works both ways when hiring managers and candidates are looking to maximize the effectiveness of the hiring process.

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