A new survey has shed light on a major inefficiency in the way most people look for a job: Getting referrals.
It turns out that 71% of hiring managers say employee referrals are their best source for finding job candidates, but only 7% of job seekers say asking for referrals is part of their strategy for getting a new job.
How referrals lead to more job opportunities
The survey, conducted by Beyond.com, a career content and job site, and Future Workplace, a research firm, also found that “passive” job seekers, or those who are employed but open to new opportunities, have a better chance of being hired over “active” job seekers, or those who are unemployed and searching for work.
Hiring managers really like passive job seekers according to the survey, with 80% of HR professionals saying they become the most effective employees. (The survey is based on a national sample of 4,347 job seekers, as well as 129 human resource professionals.)
Read more: The key way to find a new job
So what does all of this mean for you if you’re interested in finding a new position?
“A strong application coupled with quality referrals will provide job seekers with an advantage in the hiring process,” Rich Milgram, CEO of Beyond.com said in a statement. “You should constantly be exploring new ways to nurture and expand your referral network, and it may be easier than you think. For example, attend industry conferences and events, grab lunch with a former colleague or make new connections on social platforms — a few simple actions may help you land your dream job.”
Here’s a look at some of those suggested actions, based on highlights from the survey.
1. If you’re still in school, review your major
Fourteen percent of seekers surveyed were liberal arts majors, yet only 2% of companies are actively recruiting those majors. And while 30% of companies are actively recruiting engineering and computer information systems majors, just 15% of job seekers are studying in those fields. About a third of job seekers would, or have, changed their college major for better job prospects.
2. Focus on cultural fit over GPA
While job seekers (23%) and employers (24%) agreed that internship experience carries the most weight for students when seeking jobs, employers don’t view GPA as carrying a lot of weight (6%) as much as job seekers (12%). Companies put more emphasis on cultural fit (24%) than job seekers do (15%) when recruiting.
3. Be flexible
Effective communication skills are at the top of the skills list for both employers and employees. After communication skills, employers look for employees with the ability to adapt to change and make sense of ambiguity, followed by being results driven and goal-oriented. After communication skills, employees report leadership ability, in-person collaboration and teamwork skills as their subsequent strengths.
4. Don’t worry about these weaknesses
The top three weaknesses reported by employees were virtual collaboration and teamwork skills (48%), technical skills (46%), and being culturally aware and inclusive (43%). HR professionals reported virtual collaboration and teamwork skills (43%), and being culturally aware and inclusive (also 43%) as the second and third least-important skills when hiring.
5. Look outside. It’s easier
Job seekers are optimistic about the job market and may perceive it as easier to seek a new job outside their company than to make a lateral move. More than 40% of job seekers reported that it was difficult or very difficult to make a lateral move at their most recent organization, while less than one quarter of respondents reported being not optimistic about the broader job market.
Remember, a lot of prospective employers will want to check your credit before completing the hiring process. As such, it’s important to monitor what’s on your credit report. You can pull your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and view your free credit report summary, updated each month, on Credit.com.
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