Job hunting? Use social networks to make crucial connections

LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can do much more than just let you blow off some steam

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Why in-house contacts matter

That's the common refrain, and there are some numbers to back it up. "I collect data," said Gerry Crispin, owner of Careerxroads job placement consultancy in Kendall Park, N.J. He has been analyzing job hiring trends for 40 years and has conducted extensive hiring trend surveys for the past eight years. His data confirms that an in-company referral is priceless.

Gerry Crispin
Recruiter Gerry Crispin: Having an internal referral gives you a 50 to 70 times better likelihood of being interviewed than if you do anything else.

Last year Crispin analyzed more than 300,000 job openings and how they were filled. His data emphasizes how crucial it is to use social networking sites for one specific purpose and one purpose only.

"The only goal you have is to meet somebody, is to network to someone in the company you've targeted, so they can be your employee referral," Crispin said. "Because when you have an employee inside a company refer you for the specific job that does come open, you'll have 50 to 70 times more likelihood of being interviewed than if you do anything else."

Last year's survey indicated that "employee referrals represented more than a quarter of all the positions filled externally," Crispin said. "You must find an employee inside the company who can be your referral. Period. If you do that, you change the game."

Of course, Crispin added, not every job search is "average" and individual mileage may vary. "But the reality is, which lottery would you rather be in, one out of 10 or one out of 500?"

Wilson is a living testament to that. She applied for a job through Dice.com and after an initial phone interview with a human resources person in her targeted company, she used LinkedIn to actually find four people she knew well who in turn knew current associates in her targeted company. Coincidentally, one of those people on the inside was the HR rep she had spoken with.

Even more important, one of her recommendations was a CIO who knew the targeted company's CIO."I e-mailed [my CIO friend] the day after my HR phone interview and he stated that he knew the CIO at the company I was interviewing at. He asked if it was ok to 'drop a line about me' to him . . . of course I said no problem," Wilson said.

Her other three contacts got in touch with the people they knew inside the company, told them that she had interviewed for the position and also provided a recommendation.

That gave her some serious leverage.

Wilson said, "At the beginning of my second interview with the hiring manager, she stated that she had received a few e-mails from individuals stating that she should hire me. I responded that I had worked for a long time at Circuit City and during that time I had developed many contacts."

After that interview, she was confident she would land the position, and after a third interview she eventually did.

"I also used LinkedIn to research the three individuals I interviewed with. LinkedIn definitely helped me in landing this position -- of course the interviews helped as well," Wilson said.

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