It is often said that up to three quarters of professional jobs are filled through the so-called “Hidden Job Market”. Recently when I was delivering a presentation with 2 other colleagues to a group of 50 government clients, I asked for a show of hands to the question, “How many of you in the room are in your current roles as a result of being approached by someone else?” We were all surprised as slowly, nearly half the people in the room raised their hands. It’s quite obvious that this was a well-networked group.
Why do so many employers choose to hire through their networks? The main reason is because it helps the employer manage their risk of hiring the wrong candidate. Equally, most people are reluctant to refer an unsuitable candidate that will reflect badly on themselves should they not work out.
Another reason relates to the cost of recruitment – using an external agency or headhunter to help find someone on a 6-figure package can run into tens of thousands of dollars. To be sure, many of these companies are also working their own networks or trawling social media, in conjunction with using a 3rd party when there is no Preferred Supplier Agreement with an agency.
Another reason is time. Some organisations need to act swiftly to fill a vacancy in the event of a sudden resignation, or when someone has been headhunted into a new role outside their organisation. Often the word goes out quickly (but quietly) through internal networks in an effort to get a quality referral. One other reason is that some companies or senior managers are not entirely confident about getting good results through certain recruitment agencies.
I have had many people tell me over the years that they came close to getting a job, only to be informed in the end that the company went with someone they knew. I have actually experienced this myself. I have also had more than one career management client confess to me that they were on an interview panel, when they had already made up their minds which candidate was going to get the job.
For the job hunter, networking is perhaps the most important career management skill one can have. Those who network build a public profile, the main objective of networking. They are better informed about the reputation of companies they are investigating, industry trends, emerging markets, and they are typically more focused during interviews. Networkers generate opportunities and even stumble straight into others. I remember a client who networked into a job 10 years ago. She was actually hired the same day that she approached an accounting firm. During her meeting with a partner she was informed that someone had resigned earlier that week and the company had yet to start the hiring process!
People who regularly network have better choices and are better able to align their interests, skills and values with the right organisations.
Posted by Scott Spaulding