two business hands performing a handshake with a corporate buildingYou may not like it, but the truth is that getting a job is about more than just having the right skills and experience and applying to job boards. The best way to land your dream job is to get referred or recommended by an influential employee within your target employer’s business. Come to think of it, to some degree, it’s always been this way (i.e. it’s not what you know but who you know). The advent of social media technologies means that employee referrals are beginning to take a stranglehold on modern job search and become the primary channel to getting a job, rather than job boards.

This is a scary thought for the unconnected job seeker. I am not scaremongering though; just look at these statistics which show just how powerful a catalyst an employee referral is to the job search.

Let’s start with some stats from the almighty U.S. Department of Labor, which reveal that a massive 48 percent of jobs never actually make it to job boards and are advertised through the secret job market, known as word-of-mouth/employee referrals.

Does this sound hard to be believe? Well another study by Jobvite suggests that employee referrals account for 44 percent of hires and a further study by CareerXRoads puts this figure at 28 percent – and in both situations, referrals are the no. 1 route to a job, being more influential than the almighty job boards.

So, as you can see, the most effective method for job seekers to identify and find job opportunities may not be through jobs boards, but by getting a referral from a friend.

But, getting a referral does not only increase your chance of locating an opportunity, it also increases your chance of getting invited to interview and getting hired having landed an interview. Yes, research shows that employers favor candidates who have come recommended by a present employee (the more exalted the employee, the better). In particular, a Federal Reserve Bank of New York Study showed that candidates who had been referred were twice as likely to land an interview and had a 40 percent greater chance of being selected for the job than non-referred candidates.

For me, it’s case closed. While you should in no way ignore job boards, it seems that the best way to actually get a job is to get referred by a friend; and, therefore, job seekers should be rebalancing their job search activity and focusing much these on finding referrals to point them to jobs that may not be advertised or to vouch for their application and boost their hire-ability. I hear you; that’s easier said than done. Well, there are ways that people on the outside can find and exploit employee referrals and fast track into their employer of choice. I have outlined three tips on how to do this below:

  1. Focus on employers where you have inside contacts and ask them if they know of any openings and/or if they will vouch for your application.
  2. Prior to making a job application, check LinkedIn and Facebook to see if you have any contacts at the firm, and ask if you can include their name as a referral on your application.
  3. Network at industry events where you know that representatives from your favorite employers will be and pitch yourself to them and angle to see if there are any opportunities they can refer or recommend you too.

Good luck with finding your next opportunity…


in Employee Referral]