As Job Growth Slows Down, Your Networking Must Speed Up

I suspect Janet over at the Fed looked at the latest JOLTs report. It’s summarized below. She might delay any rise in interest rates as a result. It indicates that the total number of unique open jobs in the U.S. has plateaued at around 5.2-5.3 million. This is a leading indicator (by about 2-3 months) of actual jobs being filled. This means the jobs recovery, which was substantial in the past 12 months, has likely come to an end, or a least a big pause.

But don’t fret. If you’re a job seeker, this other survey about how people get these open jobs should blow your mind. The survey is not all that scientific but it does indicate that even active job seekers get most of their jobs via networking.

The percent figures in the circles represent how many people are very active job seekers (the first two groups on the left), not so active (the Tiptoers in the middle) and truly passive (the group on the right). LinkedIn’s recent research indicates that for all jobs the percent of active candidates is more than 20%. But this is for all positions. For high demand positions this falls to around 5-10%.

The Big News: What's most surprising is that well over 60% of active job seekers find their jobs by networking. Over 90% of the not so active candidates find  their jobs this way, too, but this is not too surprising. Regardless, the point is that if you’re actively looking for a job you should spend more of your time networking rather than applying directly.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for people to hire you need to spend more of your time networking to find the best candidates. One way to do this is to leverage your employee referral program. Another way is using highly networked recruiters or training them in the process of recruiting passive candidates.

Here’s some more specific advice on how to implement these ideas.

Networking Ideas for Job Seekers

  • Networking is not about meeting as many people as possible. It’s about meeting a few people who can vouch for your performance and will refer you to other people who have deep networks.
  • Don’t spend more than 20% of your time applying for jobs. Use the back door to find jobs in the hidden job market.
  • Use the 5.3 million job postings as leads for jobs. Then use LinkedIn and your own network to find someone connected to the department head for the position being advertised.
  • Use Carly Fiorina’s interviewing tips to prep for the interview.

Networking Ideas for Recruiters and Hiring Managers

  • When asking for referrals don’t ask, “Who do you know who’s looking?” Instead ask, “Who’s the best person you’ve ever worked with who can do this job?”
  • Get a license to LinkedIn Recruiter and search on your co-workers’ best connections. Then ask them if the person is worth recruiting.
  • Mention the referrer’s name when contacting a passive candidate. This will boost your response rate by 3-4X.
  • Don’t sell the job when you talk with the person, sell the discussion about a possible career move.
  • Conduct career discovery as you begin the conversation with passive candidates. This is comparable to the needs analysis process involved in solution selling. (Job seekers should do something similar once they get a foot in the back door.)
  • If the person is not a good fit, connect with him/her on LinkedIn and search his/her connections for strong prospects. Then ask for a recommendation and referral.

Don’t use a Las Vegas approach for getting your next job or hiring your next great employee. Instead invest in improving your networking skills. And whether you’re looking for a great job or a great person, don’t start selling yourself or the job. Instead start asking questions and actively listen for a problem to be solved or a need that can be met. You’ll discover this is actually the secret to great networking.