Insider Info Helps Applicants Pick Winners in the (Jobs) Derby

A newly released “source of hire” study provides today’s savvy job seeker with a very useful look into the recruiting process from the inside out, or from the eyes of the HR function. Conducted by Silkroad, one of the top providers of resume management software, the report examines just how new employees are sourced, or recruited from the outside – which is, of course, where the Right Management candidate typically sits.  So, like laying down a bet at the race track, the savvy job seeker should read the Racing Form, play the odds, and bet accordingly. Here’s a peek under the tent.

HR Departments tend to put their recruiting efforts (and money) into two large buckets, and each is effective. First, they deploy their own resources — staff recruiters, the careers section of the company’s website, and employee referral programs and processes — to attract, interview, and hire outside talent. This “internal source of hire” strategy yielded 58% of all hires among the over 150,000 job offers that were accepted in the study.  Top-producing strategies in this internal recruitment approach are employee referrals, either via a formal employee referral program or by less formal means, followed by job seekers who enter the interviewing process through the company’s own website.

Second, HR relies on the “external source of hire” channel: job search engines, job boards, print/radio/TV advertising, job fairs, and recruiters/agencies. This herd of resources accounted for the remaining 42% of hires in the study. In this category, a clear winner emerged from the pack:, the job search engine, or “aggregator,” which single-handedly claimed credit for a full 27% of all externally-sourced hires. (Indeed’s best known competitor,, netted only an additional 2% of the hires). Among the “branded” job boards, CareerBuilder emerged as a clear front runner, accounting for 14% of all hires in the category, easily outdistancing Monster and other competitors (HigherEdJobs and Snagajob, both considered “niche” sites), by over 20 percentage points.

Of all online resources, the company’s careers section of its website, as a category, produced more hires than any other online job search engine or job board.  At the lower end, but still significant and worthy of the job seeker’s attention, is the jobs section of Craigslist, an often overlooked source of openings. LinkedIn, the social media giant that is currently making a big push to establish itself in the job board arena, accounted for only 3% of externally sourced hires, but this represented a six-fold increase over 2011, an upward trend that will certainly continue in the near future. On the other hand, other social media sites, notably including Facebook and Twitter, didn’t even hit the board.

With so many applicant tracking systems, job search aggregators and boards, social media sites…how do you get focused?  With this study, a few key search strategies are underscored that should be a part of any savvy job seeker’s marketing plan:

  1. Finding / networking to an internal sponsor or current employee inside each and every one of your top targeted employers is a strong bet. There is both anecdotal and statistical evidence to suggest that a personal reference or recommendation from current employees will be heavily weighted in your favor in any hiring decision.
  2. Employers have continued to invest in the company’s careers section of the website as a primary recruiting tool, and that investment seems to be paying off for them – and so it should for you, too. Given any number of ways to approach a potential employer, the company website is emerging as the best bet.
  3. If you’re going to key in on one website, is the boss. Among branded job boards, CareerBuilder leads the category by a lot. Identifying the niche boards most appropriate for your search, both by geography (local city sites) or professional expertise (Dice for IT folks, for example) should round out a strategic selection of “go-to” job boards.
  4. LinkedIn is gaining ground quickly; it is an easy prediction that they’ll show up a whole lot bigger than 3 percentage points (of externally-sourced hires) in next year’s survey. The HR department is starting to figure the most efficient ways to use this domain to attract talent – and so should you. And, don’t forget Craigslist.

In a crowded field, whether on the racetrack or in the “Job Search Derby,” it helps to key in on a few of the strongest horses in the race. Somebody’s going to win; it might as well be you.

By: Ralph Haas, Ed.D.