Home > Job Search Advice > How Employers Find Employees: It Pays to Be Early or Get Recommended

How Employers Find Employees: It Pays to Be Early or Get Recommended

Photo courtesy of Nicobec: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/177923Ever see a job listing that looks like it was custom-made for your skills and experience? Sent in your resume, confident that your phone would ring within minutes — only to never hear back from the organization again?

When this happens, your first reaction may be: What’s wrong with me? More often than not, the answer is “nothing.” The problem is often the hiring process itself.

As part of our efforts to fix the process, we’ve put together a special series to take you behind the scenes for an in-depth glimpse of what employers look for when they hire. This is part two of that series.

Recently, we covered how a job description gets created and approved — and hinted at the problems caused when hiring managers change their mind about what they want to see in candidates as they progress through the hiring process. Today, we’re focusing on the next step in the process: What happens behind closed doors after the job gets approved?

From the surface, it looks like the hiring process is a simple one:

  1. Job gets advertised.
  2. Candidates apply.
  3. Short list of candidates get interviewed.
  4. Top candidate gets offered.

In reality, the process is often more complicated. First, before the job is advertised, employers typically set goals for gathering job applications. Recruiters and hiring managers often operate on what is known as the “100 to 8 to 3” system. Through this approach:

  1. 100 or more candidates apply for the job.
  2. 8 candidates are selected for phone screens.
  3. 3 candidates are brought in for in-person interviews, with the goal of one offer being extended to fill the job!

To receive 100 or more applications, employers seek out applications from multiple advertising channels, including identifying potential candidates on LinkedIn and asking for word-of-mouth referrals to potential hires from current employees and friends.

As a candidate, it’s especially useful to come recommended via LinkedIn or a referral for two reasons:

1. LinkedIn is used by up to 93% of employers who use social media to “source” or identify potential candidates. (Source: JobVite, Social Recruiting Survey 2012)
2. StartWire CEO Chris Forman says, “Referrals are the #1 source of hires in corporate America. And for good reason. Research shows that ‘referral’ hires not only stay longer in their jobs, but perform better over the long term. Anytime you can get your application tagged as ‘referral’, your chances of getting to an interview sky rocket.”

To help you get referrals and LinkedIn recommendations, StartWire includes a free, built-in feature that helps you identify existing LinkedIn connections. To use this, simply connect your LinkedIn account to StartWire — then search jobs as you normally do. As you look at jobs, click the “Get Referrals” icon to see who you know and request an introduction.

If you don’t have a referral or know anyone, the fastest way to get to the top of the interview pile is to follow our two step process for success:

  1. Identify the top keywords employers are looking for when they review applications by using this easy, five minute trick. Add the keywords to the top of your resume and make sure you also include them in your cover letter.
  2. Use job alerts (you can set them up inside StartWire or on other job sites) to send you positions that match your job search interests. When you see a job that matches your interests, apply without delay. Want a good reason not to procrastinate? Last year, we analyzed data from over 6,600 hires — and found that 50% of successful candidates applied within one weekthat the job was listed. It pays to apply quickly because the candidates who are reviewed first often make the short list for phone screens.  If the short list is good enough, many employers don’t review applications received after the short list is created.

Finding referrals, using the right keywords, and applying early — all of these are short cuts to land on top of the phone screen pile. Next week, we’ll show you what to do if you pass these hurdles, but see the position stall out after your interview.

In the interim, let us know if you have further questions about the process or how to succeed in your search.


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