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Inside Job: 5 Reasons You Should Tap Your Friends and Contacts to Get a Job

Miriam Salpeter

Are you sick of hearing about how important it is to tap your network to earn referrals and jobs? You hear it from your friends, your career coach, and when you pick up a book about how to find a job. If you're spending all of your time pushing out resumes to apply for positions, you're missing a crucial piece of a successful job hunter's strategy.

Today, networking opportunities abound and come in many forms: both online (via social networking tools, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+), as well as in-person networking, which is equally important for job seekers who really want to solidify relationships with the potential to earn them introductions to key decision-makers at their target companies.

The numbers in favor of networking and referrals as hiring sources for companies are compelling. CareerXRoads, a consulting practice that studies cutting-edge, recruiting technology solutions and teaches hiring professionals how to find and hire top talent, conducts annual studies about how organizations source and hire employees. Their 2012 study says it takes 10.4 referrals for one hire, but that nearly half of all companies make at least one hire for every five referrals they get. If you're not putting yourself in positions to be referred, you could miss out on one very key aspect of job search networking.

The challenge for many people is figuring out how to leverage their networks in their favor. Many complain that they don't know enough people, or they don't know the right people who are connected enough to help them land opportunities. Job seekers would be wise to tap into the various online tools created to help them identify and connect with people in their networks who can help them. One new tool online is CareerSonar, a social job discovery website that ranks job opportunities based on the strength of your inside connections. Co-Founder Aviram Ben Moshe shares top reasons to leverage your friends and contacts in your job search:

1. Uncover hidden opportunities. Don't be blind-sided and find out too late that many jobs are never posted publicly. Ben Moshe notes: "If your friends know you're looking, or are willing to consider new opportunities, you may gain access to hot jobs you won't find anywhere else." When you consider that most companies hire one in every five referrals, statistically, you may find less competition for referred job leads, and you'll move ahead in the hiring process beyond the application stage, which is where most job seekers start and end their searches.

2. It's the easiest way in the door. If you've never been referred for a job opportunity, you may not realize how nice it is to have an insider help you navigate the hiring process. "In this day and age, computer programs scan resumes for keywords and most get filtered out before a human even lays eyes on them," Ben Moshe says. "By bypassing this process, you significantly improve your odds. There's a reason job boards are described as 'black holes' for resumes."

Having a friend or contact associated with the company is the best way to get your resume in the right hands.

3. Friends will give you tips about the recruiting process. Ben Moshe reminds job seekers that their friends are often willing to go out of their way to help. For example, they may do some sleuthing to dig up tips about the hiring process, share potential interview questions, and suggest ways to impress your future boss.

4. Companies prefer referrals. Statistics consistently suggest that employee referrals are the most desirable source of hiring at practically any company. "Companies will always prefer a candidate who comes with a trusted built-in recommendation from an employee," says Ben Moshe.

Data shows that referred candidates generally outperform their colleagues, have better retention rates, and offer a better company culture fit.

5. Make an informed decision. Hiring is a two-way process. Companies are evaluating you, but it's your job to check them out, too. Decide if it's a place where you can envision yourself working. If you have any doubts, or see any red flags along the way, you'll likely be sorry later if you accept a position. "Your insider can help you decide if the opportunity is right for by telling you the real scoop about what it's like to work at the company. He or she will likely be forthcoming and let you know about potential issues, such as a boss with a terrible reputation or skewed compensation plans. You can also learn about benefits to working at the organization that you may not otherwise know," Ben Moshe reminds job seekers.

Don't squander a referral opportunity. Reach out to contacts and use all of the available tools at your disposal to engage with your community of colleagues and contacts.

Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success and 100 Conversations for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to reach their goals.

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