Study: Some Not-So-Secret Secrets To Landing Interviews And Finding A Job

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A brand new study with some very old implications for job-seekers should nonetheless give hope to people who are truly committed to doing just that. The study, Recruiting Marketing Effectiveness: Meaningful Metrics Straight From The Source, was conducted by SilkRoad, which provides social-technology-based employee management services to companies around the world. The Chicago-based firm collected data from 700 of its clients to determine the sourcing of both interview candidates and final hires. While not perfectly representative of the U.S. labor marketplace, the research results—which include info from 50 companies in the Fortune 1000 (10 in the Fortune 500), and reflect data from nearly than 225,000 job postings, 9.3 million applicants, more than 147,000 job interviews and some 94,000 hires—are revealing.

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Major conclusion: External and internal sources result in roughly the same number of job interviews, but internal sources produce almost twice the number of actual hires.

That is, what we might call “cold sources” of job leads—outside entry points like job-search engines, online job boards, print ads and job fairs—are as good as any other way for getting you in the door. But “warm sources” of leads—inside pathways like referrals from current or former employees, company career sites and walk-ins—are almost twice as effective in leading to jobs: 63% of hires came from such warm (inside) sources, 37% from cold (outside) ones.

Here’s a deeper breakdown:

Interviews: Among cold sources of interviews, 94% came through online sources, such as search engines and job boards, while 6% originated interpersonally. The major warm source of interviews was referrals (37%), followed closely by company career sites (26%), internal applications—i.e., someone who already works at the company (22%)—and walk-ins (5%).

Hires: Of those hires that originated out in the cold, 86% started online but 14% started with a human-to-human interaction. Among those new employees who travelled warm paths, 48% started with a referral and 24% engaged via company career sites. (The remainder: 27% were already working for the company and 1% were walk-ins.)

SilkRoad also broke down the Top 10 external sources for both job interviews and final hires. Again, while not conclusive of the nation as a whole, they’re nonetheless interesting. They are (for both interviews and hires): 1)Indeed.com; 2) CareerBuilder.com; 3) “unspecified job boards; 4) Monster.com; and 5) Craigslist.org.

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More than anything, the results reflect the importance of taking that one extra step when seeking employment. This is not just a prescription for making regular visits to company career sites and filling out applications—although it’s clear that doing so works. Rather, this means reaching out to one more  friend, yet another relative, old teacher, new neighbor, casual acquaintance or rec league teammate—any connection at all, deep or shallow—to see if he or she is able and willing to connect you to a hiring manager or HR representative or simply a pal at ABC Tech or XYZ Widgets. Such ongoing and incremental requests for even the slimmest of  connections are more often than not the difference between landing a job or not. That’s particularly true when hiring is soft, when companies continue to be cautious about adding new jobs. Because such rationalizations are the siren songs of job-seekers. Even during the worst recessions, even when the economy as a whole is shedding jobs, some companies are always hiring. Employees die, they relocate, they get promoted, they retire, they go missing—all sorts of happenings and occurrences result in new hires being brought on, regardless of the “no-one’s-hiring” impression given by news and government reports.

Indeed, whenever you’re tempted not to send that email to your cousin Bob’s pal in accounting because no one’s hiring, it’s always useful to ask yourself: Do I really imagine that a decade from now there will not be one person at XYZ Widgets or ABC Tech will be celebrating a 10-year anniversary at the company?

Of course there will be, and if you want to be one of those folks making jokes about a silly 10-year anniversary pin, you’d do well to make one more “pointless” call, email one more friend of a friend, visit one more career site, file one more application.

Then do it again tomorrow.

MORE: Why Searching For a Job Is Like ‘Throwing Paper Airplanes into the Galaxy’

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