Personal Referrals Still Important In the Job Hunt

By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2010-08-31

With the proliferation of social networking websites for job searching, it might be easy to think that it's the only way to find a job these days. There is little doubt the use of these technologies is an important way to make connections, find out about opportunities and to focus your personal brand and narrative via your profile. But don't forget, you need to make connections with people by establishing relationships and building on ones you have made from past work experiences.

The best way to obtain an interview and get hired is to know someone and have them pulling for you from the inside, told corporate recruiter for MITRE Corp. Gary Cluff to The Washington Post. MITRE is a non-profit technology advocacy organization that employs 7,000 technology-related workers in government-centric departments like the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, the IRS, FAA, and the VA.

"Don't rely just on sending in a resume," Cluff counsels, adding that job applicants are five times more successful with referrals than simply with resumes.

"Employees tend to refer people who not only have the needed qualifications but who also fit that particular corporate culture," Cluff explains. "They are looking for people they would like to work with." Cluff, who runs Project SAVE (The Staffing Alliance of Virginia Employers) says that in the past 19 years, 40 to 50 percent of individuals hired have been through referrals.

Recommendations from previous managers, peers and direct reports on sites like LinkedIn are quick ways for recruiters and hiring managers to characterize your past work and experience, but they will not necessarily get you an interview or the job. Personal connections are still the most important thing you have in the job search. Do not squander them.

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