These days, it’s more important than ever to talk with the people in your network and ask them about openings where they work.  In doing so, your next job may be closer than you think because increasingly employers are sourcing appropriate candidates through the networks of their current employees.  And more and more employers are providing incentives to their employees to find candidates to fill their openings.  This can be a win-win for everyone.
For many employers, the costs of traditional recruiting and hiring are very high.  Sourcing appropriate applicants through headhunters and agencies is expensive and slow.  Placing recruitment ads on job boards – whether on craigslist, Monster, Dice or other site – takes time and money that most employers would rather put into training and other necessities.  And even if a candidate makes it through a preliminary round of interviews, there is little way to confidently tell if s/he is a good fit for the position or the company.
But when an applicant is referred by a personal acquaintance who is aware of a friend’s skills and personal disposition, it can take some of the guess work out of the hiring process.  An applicant who already knows one or more employees of a firm is likely to feel more comfortable upon arrival, have a shorter time in acclimating to the company culture, feel a part of the team faster, and is more likely – as long as their friends remain – to have a longer tenure with that employer.
To unearth potential hires through current employees, employers have been utilizing multiple tactics.  It usually starts with an employer communicating with staff to announce openings and skill needs, and that referrals from their networks are actively being sought.  If special skill sets are needed, emphasis and encouragement should be conveyed to the current workers of the department where the opening exists or the new hire will be placed.
After some names are submitted, the employer might begin looking at the prospects’ social and professional networking profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn or other sites.  Since these pages are easily viewed by the general public, an employer can peruse these profiles and get an idea of a referral’s work history, specialty areas, and the types of environments in which the hire might thrive.  And precisely because these profiles are so easily viewed by potential employers, job seekers are encouraged to keep their pages up to date and free of images or content that could raise a red flag for an employer.
Some employers are even providing incentives to current employees to make referrals of their friends and other known professionals to help fill open positions.  These can take the form of cash and bonuses the employee can use any way they wish.  Bounties are being offered by some companies as contests to encourage referrals where resumes of qualified individuals are submitted by employees with a formal referral form. Other employers give promotions or leadership responsibilities to those making the referrals, demonstrating their commitment to the company and its growth by bringing in fresh talent.  And on occasion, the referring employee becomes responsible for mentoring the person they referred.  And because employers feel more confident when hiring those referred by existing staff, some will even offer signing bonuses to the new hires as an added incentive to make the process more enticing for all concerned.
Employers recognize that sourcing referrals from the ranks of their current staff can net major cost savings over traditional recruitment methods. Yet although more and more employers are utilizing referrals from current workers to fill openings, few are doing so exclusively.  Many firms are required by contractual obligations and/or state/federal employment regulations to publicly announce their job openings forcing employers to spend money they know they could save by recruiting internally.
So talk to the people in your networks about job openings where they work, clean up your online profiles and get yourself ready to be recognized as a valuable commodity who can quickly make a tangible contribution. Your next job offer (or candidate, if you’re an employer!) may be closer than you think.
For more ideas about mining your network for referrals and other job search and career development topics, please search this blog and visit:  hanklondon.com

By Hank

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