top of page

What does effective networking look like?

Karl Reuning responded to my request for career topics you’d like to see me address with this: “What does effective networking look like?”

Here’s my take (from a former hiring manager’s perspective) on that question. I think you start with taking a look at how people are hired; which avenues into a company are the most successful for candidates, and then take a strategic approach to how and with whom you develop your professional networks. You want in with Company ABC? Then

  1. Find folks on LinkedIn who work for Company ABC and connect with them on a professional level.

  2. Exchange ideas, generate topics of discussion that demonstrate your expertise in subjects that may be important to your industry or profession.

  3. Connect with people in a business or trade association for your industry or profession; attend local chapter meetings, conferences, give a presentation, write an article or paper for a peer-reviewed journal: establish yourself as an expert.

  4. Be the first person to help someone else in your growing network with a referral or job lead; be seen as a resource first.

There are three ways by which you enter the hiring process: as an external candidate, as a referral candidate, or as an internal candidate. In my experience, internal candidates generally enjoy the biggest advantage, followed closely by referral candidates, and then external candidates a distant third. Somewhere between 33 and 67 percent of jobs found and filled are through personal referrals. Through personal referrals, much of the uncertainty in the hiring process is reduced or eliminated altogether from the equation, which leads to a higher probability of getting a job offer (and more quickly). It is also a low-cost recruitment tool. You simply must be strategic in designing and building your professional networks to increase the probably of being referred for an open position.

The chart below is from a report at listing the top 10 external sources for interviews and hires.

Top 10 External Sources for Interviews and Hires (Source:

Top 10 External Sources for Interviews and Hires

A 2012 comprehensive study (222,000 job postings, 9.3 million applications, 147,440 interviews, and 94,155 hires) from SilkRoad ( provides some interesting conclusions about the effectiveness of recruiting:

  1. External (specific job search engines, job boards, print advertising, job fairs) and internal (referrals, inside hires, walk-ins, company career sites) sources result in about the same number of interviews, although internal sources produce almost twice the number of hires.

  2. Company career sites are the greatest online recruitment source based on interviews and hires.

  3. Referrals remain the strongest base for internal recruitment marketing, followed by inside hires and company career sites.

  4. Job search engines are singularly far more effective than job boards at returning both interviews and hires.

In a landmark study on social networks (with real people, not Facebook “friends”) and hiring conducted by Stanford University in 1996, researchers concluded the following:

  1. Social networks favorably influence the composition of the pool of job candidates

  2. Applicants referred by current employees are more likely to be interviewed and offered jobs than external non-referral candidates

  3. Network referrals are advantaged at both the interview and job offer stages compared to external non-referral applicants

The researchers also determined why referral candidates had such an advantage over non-referral candidates:

  1. During labor shortages, using referrals is a quick and inexpensive method for generating a pool of applicants (fewer applicants for every open position)

  2. The “benefit of the doubt” effect that creates a tendency for recruiters to give referral candidates the benefit of the doubt during screening, which encourages employees to continue to recommend referrals, thereby creating a process closed to non-referral candidates

  3. Social network hiring tends to produce better job description-worker matches than other types of recruitment

Another reason employee referrals are the preferred entry method to  jobs is because the average length of employment is greater with referrals than the other two methods for entering the hiring process, as the following chart reveals.


Good question, Karl…I hope that helps, and go Red Sox!

0 views0 comments


bottom of page