How much does “who you know” affect your chances of landing a job?


It is hardly a well-kept secret that getting a job is easier if you know someone. Presumably, that is one of the reasons networking events exist.British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) shakes hands with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder at the Gleneagles Hotel for the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland July 7, 2005. Aid, debt relief and climate change will top the agenda when leaders of the G8 - the Group of Seven industrialised nations plus Russia - meet for three days in Gleneagles. UNICS REUTERS/Jim Young  CRB - RTRGQCNBut the question remains: how much easier is it, exactly?

To find out, the career website Glassdoor sifted through 440,000 job interview reviews posted to the site since 2009, analyzing how people landed their interviews and whether or not those interviews ultimately led to jobs.

And the results are in: Based on Glassdoor’s numbers, your chances of getting an accepting an offer are a “statistically significant” 2.6% to 6.6% higher if you were referred by a current employee than if you weren’t.

In some ways, that’s a reassuringly small number — it is indeed still possible to get hired with no connections whatsoever. In other ways, though, that statistically significant 6.6% only confirms what we all already know: Connections matter, and yes, you should go to that industry thing tonight. Or as Glassdoor chief economist Andrew Chamberlain puts it, there’s no good substitute for shoe leather methods.”

Think of it this way, he suggests: “Boosting the odds of getting a job offer by roughly 5% would mean on average that 1 in 20 workers gets a job offer who wouldn’t have otherwise gotten one.” And if you’re looking at a large group, that could mean thousands of job matches that wouldn’t happen otherwise.

That’s not entirely nonsensical (whether it’s fair is another question). When you’re coming in recommended by a current employee, the company has a better sense of who you are — at the very least, they know who you’re connected to, and they know something about who that person is — and you likely have a better sense of the company, too. It’s evidence of the “power of context and information,” Chamberlain tells Business Insider. Both parties know more about the other, and accordingly, the result is a more likely match.

But while being referred by a current employee may be the most promising way to the job, it is by no means the only way.

Staffing agency referrals yielded above-average results, as did “in-person connections with employers.” If you don’t have a contact, getting a foot in the door via job fair or informational interview might not be a bad idea.

Less promising avenues: recruiter interviews, online applications — hands-down the most common means of applying for a job, if not the most fruitful — and college or university referrals, which come in last of all.

Universities may be preparing the next generations of future leaders, but — at least based on Glassdoor’s study — their career centers are not particularly good at helping those future leaders find direct employment. If one of your college classmates can refer you though, that’s another story.


This article is published in collaboration with Business Insider. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Rachel Sugar is a careers reporter for Business Insider.


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