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Why it’s essential you network like a boss during the lockdown!

Approximately 60% to 70% of the jobs market is hidden. You’ve probably heard this fact before. Have you thought to yourself, why on earth would there be hidden vacancies? That doesn’t make sense. If there are vacancies to be filled why aren’t companies shouting from the rooftops about it? By the way, shouting from the rooftops isn’t a sourcing method I’ve ever tried! So, why are jobs hidden and what are the benefits for you?

One of the best ways to find hidden jobs is by networking.  Networking is one of your most effective methods of tapping into these hidden vacancies.  The great news is that you can network on and offline.  

In a buoyant jobs market, the advice to candidates is to exploit all routes to market and there’s no harm continuing to use all the methods available.

However, throwing your CV out to every company speculatively isn’t your most efficient use of your time.  It’s certainly not the most efficient use of your time during lockdown and post-lockdown. 

It’s not the most effective method either and it can even be fairly disheartening because you won’t hear anything back from the majority of your applications.

Sourcing methods

Sourcing methods refer to how recruiters find suitable candidates. They use a variety of sourcing methods such as advertising on job boards.  They may conduct some data mining (searching on databases for CVs) or advertising on their own website, engaging with recruitment agencies, or rarer these days in the local or national newspapers.

Let’s take one of those common visible sourcing methods; advertising externally. Typically, when a company advertises externally, they will receive hundreds, if not, thousands of applications. The bigger the company and the bigger its brand, the more applications it will receive. 

No requirement to advertise externally 

There is no law that says a private company has to advertise externally.  There’s only one exception (that I know about) when a company needs to sponsor someone who isn’t currently eligible to work in the U.K.  The company has to advertise for 28 days to give the local resident market an opportunity to apply to this job first. It’s called a Resident Labour Market Test. If they cannot find a suitable candidate from the local resident pool, they can then issue a certificate of sponsorship. This can be complicated and this blog isn’t about issuing certificates of sponsorship. 

For further information visit the Government website.  

So, putting that exception aside, private sector companies are quite within their rights to only advertise internally. It wouldn’t be effective longer-term to only advertise internally, and we’ll go through the reasons later.

Advertising internally doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be any external candidates. Sometimes it won’t be necessary to include external candidates because the company may be fairly confident that they have the skills and talent internally.  It could also be an opportunity for progression and this is a great talent retention strategy.

If a company would like to consider both internal and external candidates but doesn’t want to advertise externally, they will encourage employees to submit suitable candidates. This process is called an Employee Referral Scheme or Refer a Friend.

Business reasons for hidden jobs

What are the business reasons for having ‘hidden’ jobs? There are many benefits of not advertising widely on the internet and there are lots of reasons.

Cost savings on advertising externally

Since a high percentage of jobs are likely to be advertised on the internet these days, the cost has significantly reduced.  It’s certainly cheaper to advertise on the internet compared to advertising in the local or national newspapers. Most larger organisations will also work closely with Recruitment Agencies and this can be a costly method of sourcing candidates.

However, it’s not just direct costs the business records.  It also calculates and monitors the indirect costs of the recruitment process.

Some of the costs associated with recruitment are:

  • Time to hire: Usually measured from the time the recruitment starts to offer
  • Cost per hire:  Advertising costs or recruitment agency fees
  • Indirect costs:  The time to screen the CVs, contact the candidates, set up and conduct interviews, managing the offer negotiations, onboarding and inductions, training and orientation into the new job, team, and company.

Save time managing the applications

This time spent screening and sifting in and out CVs can be time-consuming. This is the indirect costs associated with the recruitment mentioned above. The bigger organisations will have Applicant Tracking Systems ATS that will do the majority of the processing these days. However, there will still be lots of businesses that don’t have sophisticated ATS and are still screening every single CV manually.

Recruitment for a hiring manager is extra work and something else they need to factor into their already busy day. If they don’t have a specialist recruiter in-house to support the process, then it really is time-consuming. It’s not a straight forward process on occasions and if you’ve never been involved in the recruitment process, you’ll have no idea about the issues that often arise.

For example, candidates withdrawing their applications, candidates being offered another job, candidates being counter offered by the existing employers, candidates that don’t show up for interviews, or don’t turn up on their first day!

Reduce the time to advertise

Generally, the internal advert will be one or two weeks. When I was an in-house recruiter, I liked advertising for over two weeks as I didn’t want people to miss an opportunity if they were on holiday.

Fewer applicants if only advertised internally

High quality of candidate: Another one of those anecdotal observations. Generally speaking, recruiters will report a higher quality of the candidate is received via Employee Referral Schemes.

It relates to the point I made above about thinking carefully before recommending a friend or associate. Both parties (referrer and candidate) reputation is on the line.

Better quality candidates

If the referrer (the employee) has a good reputation in the business, then anyone they submit is likely to be pre-approved by association. This doesn’t necessarily mean they skip any recruitment process.

In fact, it’s advised (by HR and Recruiters) that there are the same recruitment and selection process for all candidates. This ensures a fair, objective, and consistent process and therefore, reduces the risks of discrimination.

Attracts like-minded people to the team

There are advantages to building a team of like-minded individuals. However, there are some risks of creating a non-diverse team of individuals that all think in the same way. That’s why there still needs to be a robust recruitment and selection process in place.

Best practice suggests the need for several people to be involved in the recruitment process and again, this ensures that there’s no discrimination during the selection process.

Candidate benefits of hidden jobs

The benefits for you are very similar to the benefits of the business. It’s good to understand the reasons why businesses promote Employee Referral Schemes.

Much better chance of being invited to interview

As already mentioned, there are significantly fewer CVs to screen.  So there’s a much higher chance of being invited to interview.

Your CV will go direct to the recruiter and as a result, your CV will also get read. There is less chance of your CV being sifted out by an ATS (Applicant Tracking System). A person will read your CV.

Pre-approved by association with your referrer

This, of course, depends on who is doing the referring. Therefore, if the person (your friend or associate), has a good reputation and is a highly valued member of the team then by association you will be positively pre-approved.

Or there is most certainly an expectation that you will also be of the same calibre and quality as the referrer. Think about this one. If you were asked to recommend someone for a job in the place where you worked, you’d give it some serious thought before putting your reputation on the line.

Less competition in terms of getting an interview (as there are less CVs)

Okay, there will be a lot less CVs, however, you will be interviewing against other good quality candidates, and let’s not forget the internal applicants.

So, less competition to get an interview perhaps. However, not less competition once you get to interview. That’s really important to remember when you are preparing for the interview.

Don’t be overly confident because you’ve been recommended. Don’t be too complacent when you are preparing as it may not be a ‘done deal’ to the recruiters.

Your CV is highly likely to be read by a person

As there are generally significantly fewer applicants when companies run an internal advert, then it’s highly likely your CV will be read and screened by a human. Your CV may not even go through the usual ATS sift.

Of course, companies will still want to check the candidate matches the criteria however, you’ve now got two people waiting for the outcome of an application (the candidate and the referrer!).

 

Potential disadvantages

Of course, it wouldn’t be appropriate or a robust recruitment strategy if the company only ever advertised internally. Good businesses understand the benefits of recruiting from a board talent pool.

Less diverse talent pool

There would be disadvantages and a lot less diverse pool of candidates in the mix. If you were only relying on employee referrals the business runs the risk of attracting similar types of candidates. It’s great to work with ‘likeminded’ people, however, the risks to the business are the team shares the same opinions and ideas and no one challenges these or adds a different perspective on topics.

Family policies

Some companies have strict policies about working with family members and by hiring friends or family there’s a risk of potential personality clashes, and a conflict of interest when managing someone from your family. It’s also the perception it may give to others in the team and they may feel uncomfortable or excluded.

There could also be issues with not following a robust (objective, fair, and consistent) selection process (interview formats and styles).

In the business world, nepotism is the practice of showing favoritism toward one’s family members or friends in economic or employment terms.

In response, some larger companies have instituted “anti-nepotism” policies, which prevent relatives (by blood or marriage) from working in the same department or firm.”  

Toxic cliques

Managing the team is really important and there is a risk of exclusivity being created if two or three people are known to be friends outside of the workplace. Often these are referred to as cliques and they can be damaging to the team’s dynamics.

Summary of the benefits for candidates

In summary, the benefits for the candidate are really quite attractive and why it’s so important to network with friends and associates in your sector and industry.  Networking is the biggest and most effective way of finding hidden jobs.  

  • Much better chance of being invited to interview
  • Pre-approved by association with your referrer
  • Less competition in terms of getting an interview (as there are less CVs)
  • Your CV is highly likely to be read by a person (rather than ATS!)

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About Dawn Moss

Dawn has worked in a corporate environment for over ten years providing Recruitment & Selection Services, and has been involved in Coaching & Educating Business Leaders, Managers and Employees in all aspects of the recruitment process.

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