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New Survey Reveals 85% of All Jobs are Filled Via Networking

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Over the past 12 months I’ve been asking people how they found their most recent job. (Here’s the link to the survey.) About 3,000 people have responded so far, most of whom are in staff or management roles. The results are shown in the graphic.

how people get jobs

Networking Rules!

The most startling observation: Even for the most active candidates, networking is their primary means for finding jobs.  This is represented by the two groups of candidates on the left.

Not unexpectedly, for those who are less active (Tiptoers are casually looking for another job), networking trumps applying directly for a job by a factor of 3:1. For the true passive candidates the ratio of networking to applying is a whopping 7:1.

However, this is just a part of the story. The overall size of the talent market for each of these groups is as important. This is shown at the top of the graphic. This information was based on joint research conducted with LinkedIn last year determining the job hunting status of the fully employed. This revealed that active candidates represent around 5-20% of the total talent market, Tiptoers about 15-20% and passive candidates about 65-75%. The ranges reflect different positions with fewer active candidates available for high demand positions.

Given this data, it’s pretty clear that finding candidates or getting a job today needs to emphasize networking. Here’s some instant advice for all those involved on either side of the process.

Start by reading Harvard Prof Todd Rose’s new book, The End of Average.

Rose offers scientific proof that existing hiring methods used by most organizations around the world are fundamentally flawed. The big one: The context of the job matters most of all and skills- and experience-laden job descriptions fail to capture true job needs. Rose suggests using performance-based job descriptions to define real job needs.

Job seekers need to use the backdoor to gain access to the hidden job market.

Before jobs are posted online they’re filled either internally or through a referral from a trusted source. Even better, candidates don’t need to be a perfect fit to be hired for these jobs. Instead they’re evaluated based on their track record of past performance, leadership ability and upside potential. Often the jobs are modified to better fit the career needs of the person being hired. Here are some keys you can use to enter through the backdoor.

Recognize that LinkedIn is a network of 400 million people, not just a database of them.

Job seekers need to realize networking is not trying to meet as many people as possible. It’s about meeting a few well-connected people who can vouch for your ability and who are willing to refer you to a few other well-connected people. For those on the hiring side the reverse is true. Since with LinkedIn Recruiter you can search on your first degree connection’s connections, rather than just asking who’s the best person they know doing (describe the job) it’s important to also ask about specific people you’ve found connected to them.

Demonstrate the ability to do the work, not pass some assessment test, to get the interview.

I’m still dumbfounded that smart HR people can justify the use of assessment tests for prescreening purposes without first determining if the quality of the people who won’t take the test is better than those who do. In the hidden job market these prescreening tests are not given. Instead, candidates are hired based on their track record of success. The two-step process of getting a candidate to summarize one major career accomplishment before applying is one way recruiters can determine a non-referred candidate’s qualifications without giving the assessment test.

Job seekers can gain similar access by demonstrating their ability to do the work required by providing a sample of their work or presenting some type of analysis that is part of the job. One product marketing person told me he got three interviews by conducting a competitive analysis and sending it to the VP Marketing of the three companies involved.

Be different. If you do what everyone else does you’ll get average results.

If you’re trying to hire a top person don’t use processes designed to weed out the weak ones. Part of this is posting jobs that are filled with useless jargon and a bunch of must-have requirements. Only the desperate and unqualified will apply. Instead write compelling postings and emails that capture your ideal candidate’s intrinsic motivators. Here’s a great example for a tough job in a remote area that attracted passive candidates within hours.

Job seekers need to be different, too. Different when applying. Different during the interview. And different on the job. Here’s some advice on how to demonstrate your differences.

Since 85% of critical jobs are filled via networking of some sort, being highly networked is essential for both the job seekers and for those seeking them. It starts by recognizing no one is average, using the backdoor to find jobs in the hidden market and being different. It ends with hiring better people and getting better jobs.