Do you want to increase your odds of getting an interview? The solution is simple: network.

The New York Times highlighted the news that employers (such as Ernst & Young) are ramping up their employee referral hiring. Why? Simple, according to a Mr. Nash of Ernst & Young, “Our analysis shows referred hires perform better, stay longer and are quicker to integrate into our teams.” To support Mr. Nash’s analysis, Giorgio Topa, one of the authors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York study, also referenced in the NYTimes article, states referred employees are 15 percent less likely to quit.

So why are you still throwing your resume in the pile without getting a referral? Could it be because you don’t think you know anyone? Think again.

Use social networks to stay connected

Social networks enable us to stay connected in this ever-changing and transitioning world, despite changes in jobs, companies, telephone numbers, and email addresses. Social networks are also changing how hiring and business gets done, making it easier and more cost effective for companies to source candidates. But by no means are they a magic wand or replacement for good old fashioned face-to-face networking. Seize opportunities to strengthen new or old relationships by reaching out with a phone call or email. Try using the tools mentioned below to find someone inside a company!

Tools to connect – some reminders

  • Start your outreach with people who know you best. They are more likely to advocate for you or put in the extra time and effort to introduce you to someone you should know.
  • Don’t overlook the hidden job market- those opportunities that never publicly posted. In order to find these gems, you will have to look beyond job postings and identify companies. You want to beat the competition, so please stop chasing jobs as your primary search method!
  • A tool is nothing if the user isn’t using it correctly or appropriately. You will need strong communication and interpersonal skills to leverage your network.

LinkedIn – 400 million and going strong

LinkedIn is the number one professional social network, with 400 million users and counting. Learn how to use it well. Learn the ins and outs and etiquette to help you leverage meaningful conversations with people. And don’t overlook these important tips:

  • Have a complete profile.
  • Join groups.
  • Search for people inside companies.
  • Learn the different ways to connect with someone.
  • Send a customized invitation to connect.

Matching JOBS with connections

The tools listed below help you find connections within your existing social networks. For the best results, it helps to have more than just LinkedIn account. The more people you are connected with across different networks, the greater your chances of finding the right company contact. But don’t sacrifice the quality of your relationships with the quantity. Quality trumps quantity any day:

  • Jackalope Jobs – Find jobs using Jackalope Jobs unique job posting aggregator and then the tool will help you identify the best people to connect you to those opportunities. If you link your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Plaxo profiles, you’ll have a wide assortment of people who can help refer you for a job posting. The advantage of using this tool is that you only need to log into one platform to find jobs and reach out to helpful connections.
  • Career Sonar – Career Sonar also uses job postings and matches them with your connections. You specify the jobs and companies you are interested in and CareerSonar scans your social and professional networks (LinkedIn and Facebook), matching the employment history of everyone you know with the jobs it finds across the Web.
  • SimplyHired – Known first as a job board, SimplyHired aggregates job postings from various job boards. When you use their social network integration, your LinkedIn connections are matched with the jobs you are interested in to help you find people inside those companies.

Transforming Facebook – finding work connections

Facebook is where many people have built their personal network. Who says that friends, family, and people we went to school with can’t help with our job search? The tools below give you the ability to search Facebook by the companies your friends work for:

  • Glassdoor’s Inside Connections – When you connect your Facebook account with Glassdoor’s site, you are able to see the connections that are either an employee or know an employee at the company with a job you are interested in.
  • Monster’s BeKnown Facebook application – BeKnown is an application on Facebook that allows you to search and connect similar to LinkedIn. Of course it connects with Monster’s job postings as well.
  • BranchOut Facebook application – BranchOut had an early lead in this manipulation of Facebook data and connections. Their application allows you to find and connect with people based on the professional work history listed in their Facebook profile. But because many people view Facebook as a personal network, many users have not included their work history in their profiles.

Finding connections WITHOUT a job posting

  • Goalee – By far the better NETWORKING tool, Goalee helps you tap into your LinkedIn and Facebook networks to find people who work at companies, finds things in common and provides talking points and a customizable message you can send to connect. This message focuses on a reciprocal approach to connecting, by giving you hints on what value the other person might find in connecting with you.

Conclusion – Can’t beat them? Join them!

If you read the New York Times article mentioned above, then you may have also noticed over 300 comments; many of which cite the unfairness in employers’ hiring practices and the frustration associated with the job application process. We all agree, the system has some flaws, but with a little flexing, job seekers can and must adjust to the changing trends. As the saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them.

About Hannah Morgan

Hannah Morgan provides no-nonsense help for new job seekers. She provides advice and serves as a guide to traverse the treacherous terrain of today's economy by focusing on pro-active strategies for job search and leveraging social networks. Career Sherpa is one of many outlets where Hannah shares her information. Follow Hannah on Twitter @careersherpa!

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