If at least 80% of jobs are never posted, how do people get hired? The hidden job market is like the secret underground for jobseekers and everyone wants to get in, but most people don’t know how. I think that’s because we don’t take the time to look for the easiest solutions, like employee referral programs.
Employers love ERPs. They cut the financial and time investments of hiring, provide the employer with a wide pool of candidates who are easily vetted, and make existing employees happy because they’re able to help friends, family, professional contacts and themselves by earning a bonus. Plus, research shows that referred employees have a stronger understanding of the organizational culture, better skills, and a tendency to stick around longer than a year.
So how can you take advantage of ERPs?
Research: If you have a list of preferred employers, hit your favourite search engine and add in the phrase “employee referral.” Some organizations promote their programs and others don’t, so it might not necessarily be on their HR or careers page.
Poll your network: Start by asking your family and friends if their employer has an ERP. Surprisingly, many people might not know what that is, or if their organization follows such a practice. Family and friends already like you, and will be more interested in helping so start with your primary contacts and then expand outward. “Do you know if your organization has an employee referral plan” is a great question to add to informational interviews.
Target your networking efforts: Let’s say you’ve identified an organization that has an ERP. Great! But you don’t know anyone there… search LinkedIn for employees and then add additional criteria like school, to see if you can find any alumni. You can also restrict your search to group members so you can reach out to them by searching through that LinkedIn group. The more people who know you, the greater the likelihood that you’ll have at least one referral come your way.
Reconnect with your alma mater: If it’s been a while since you were in touch with your college or university, there’s no time like the present to reacquaint yourself with the alumni association, especially if you are trying to start building contacts at specific organizations. Alumni relations professionals want to hear from you, so give them a call and ask for help. When you reach out, ask them if they have a networking program for alumni, a list of mentors who have already agreed to assist, or if they happen to know someone at Company XYZ who might be willing to chat with you. The more information you can share with them the better, especially since alumni associations have multiple partnerships across campus, with employers and in the community.
If you’re wondering why I keep talking about networking, it’s because ERPs are human hiring solutions. You need people to help you take advantage of this strategy. It isn’t about crafting a better resume, it’s about having someone on the inside who knows you and your abilities, and is willing to tie their name to yours. That said, you can certainly ask people about ERPs when you meet for an informational interview, but I wouldn’t go so far as to ask a virtual stranger to recommend me. You’ll want to build and maintain these relationships to take full advantage of these opportunities, and that’s not a problem since employers hire for all levels with employee referral programs.
Have you had an experience with ERPs? Using them at your company? Questions, comments & hiring stories (good & bad) are always welcome at email@example.com and remember that attendees of the Beyond the Professoriate conference receive 20% off.