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Woman holding sign saying I need a job.
Getting a job through someone you know is nothing new. But many big companies are formalizing their preference for job-seekers who know someone—and that's bad news for people who don't already know people with the jobs they want to have, as well as for long-term unemployed people who've lost touch with their professional networks. The New York Times' Nelson D. Schwartz reports that:
Some, like Ernst & Young, the accounting firm, have set ambitious internal goals to increase the proportion of hirings that come from internal referrals. As a result, employee recommendations now account for 45 percent of nonentry-level placements at the firm, up from 28 percent in 2010.

The company’s goal is 50 percent. Others, such as Deloitte and Enterprise Rent-A-Car, have begun offering prizes like iPads and large-screen TVs in addition to traditional cash incentives for employees who refer new hires.

If you're referred by someone who already works at a company, you could be as much as 10 times more likely to be hired than if you just sent in a resume. And while it's good to have that information so you can think about who you know that could help your application get a second look, it's not good news for making the corporate world more diverse:
People tend to recommend people much like themselves, economists say, a phenomenon known as assortative matching. Mr. Topa’s study for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that 63.5 percent of employees recommended candidates of the same sex, while 71.5 percent favored the same race or ethnicity.
Some companies are capping the percentage of hires they make through employee referrals for that reason, but will that be enough to level the field for people who don't look like the people already at a company? Workers thinking about who to recommend to their employers also may be more reluctant to recommend friends who have been unemployed for a while, leaving the nearly 4.8 million people who've been jobless for more than 27 weeks with few options.

If you're unemployed, this should be a reminder to work the hell out of every connection you've got, no matter how weak your tie to someone working at a company you might like to work at. Former classmate or coworker? Neighbor you wave at while mowing the lawn? Cousin's brother-in-law? Can't hurt to ask. If you've already exhausted all your connections, though ... well, you probably already knew you were screwed in this job market, didn't you?

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 10:12 AM PST.

Also republished by Unemployment Chronicles and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  what is the reasoning behind making this a (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, tardis10, hnichols, Dirtandiron


    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 10:14:43 AM PST

  •  It has been this way for a long time. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mannie, hnichols, Dirtandiron, Bronx59

    I would only add that one must know the right person. In today's labor market, knowing the right person at the right time is key.

    "There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.".. Buddha

    by sebastianguy99 on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 11:16:59 AM PST

  •  I worked in career counseling (6+ / 0-)

    all through the '90s, and while this is standard advice from professional career guidance counselors, it's practically indistinguishable from the old racist, "it's who you know" system that was allegedly abolished by the rise of HR departments.

    Now that good jobs are at an all-time premium, cronyism will also be on the rise. Good for those who got through college on their parent's money, not so good for anyone else except maybe coopted minorities who will lock down the affirmative action slots for all their upper middle class friends of color.

    This is not a good thing.

    The more Democrats fight, the more we win.

    by Mark Gisleson on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 11:41:57 AM PST

  •  When companies do this, the newspapers think it's (3+ / 0-)

    great. If some guy on a construction site, or the back of a garbage truck, or whatever helps his kid get a job with him, then it's called nepotism, cronyism, and so forth.

    Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

    by Dirtandiron on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 04:03:15 PM PST

  •  But meritocracy! (8+ / 0-)

    Yeah, that's been a sham for...ever?

    The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

    by psnyder on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 07:31:12 PM PST

  •  Every job I've ever gotten (5+ / 0-)

    is a result of someone I knew. I am currently unemployed, although involved in several projects that will most likely start to pay and I have several other project prospects — every one because of people I know. Many of those people I've gotten to know through Democratic activism. After I lost my job in a merger in 2008, I found my next job when I ran into a former colleague at the opening of an Obama headquarters here and he referred me to a friend of his. It's just the way the world works. Get to know people!

    Jon Husted is a dick.

    by anastasia p on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 07:36:06 PM PST

  •  Having Sex With The Boss Also Counts For A Lot (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    justiceputnam, shypuffadder

    That's extremely common these days as all pretense of ethics go out the window.  Someone doesn't like it? Fire them and six of their friends.  Anyone else got a problem?  Yeah I didn't think so.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 07:44:30 PM PST

  •  I understand (3+ / 0-)

    This all too well. Been out of the game for 2 years because of a nasty car wreck and no employer will give me the time of day. Right now, I feel my only option is to find someone with good connections.  

  •  I know Kid Oakland... (0+ / 0-)

    ... can I be a labor organizer now?

    A Poet is at the same time a force for Solidarity and for Solitude -- Pablo Neruda / Netroots Radio podcasts of The After Show with Wink & Justice can be found on Stitcher

    by justiceputnam on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 07:50:36 PM PST

  •  In Barbara Ehrenreich's "Bait & Switch" (7+ / 0-)

    job coaches & employment counselors were forever advising people to "network."  Of course, the unemployed folks they were addressing didn't have a lot of people to network with other than one another, which wasn't terribly helpful.  The only one from these seminars & whatnot who got any benefit out of networking was Ehrenreich herself, who got the chance to interview the unemployed people about whether this advice was helping them.  

    I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

    by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 07:53:17 PM PST

    •  I don't think self-consciously "networking" (5+ / 0-)

      when you become unemployed is helpful. I think you should ALWAYS be building your network organically through becoming involved with things you are interested in. I have a huge network through Democratic and progressive politics, civic organizations (particularly having to do with elections), the arts, the music scene, and the sustainable local food movement here. You need to get involved and stay involved, not go to "networking" events.

      Jon Husted is a dick.

      by anastasia p on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:25:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I hate the term "networking." (4+ / 0-)

        It makes it sound like you don't enjoy being around these people at all, you're just talking to them in case you might need help finding a job down the road.

        28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

        by TDDVandy on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:58:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There's smart networking and not smart networking (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Smart networking means you know how to build connections and the right ones.  You also be professional and you don't say, "I'm looking for a job" but you ask questions about the industry and you start building the relationship with the professional.

          I'm already building my connections.  I have plenty at BBVA Compass (one of the largest banks in the world), Salesforce, and lots of innovative companies around the Bay Area, California (where I'm based).

        •  Agreed. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The difference between "having friends/acquaintances who might be willing to help you" and "networking" is essentially the same as the difference between buzz and hype: one is organic, the other artificial.

  •  Who you know it's at least 80% (0+ / 0-)

    As a serial entrepreneur who had to get regular (so to speak) jobs between startups I know

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:01:40 PM PST

  •  I don't think this is unexpected or wrong (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Futuristic Dreamer

    because hiring new employees based on a resume or credentials always leaves open the question of their work habits and personality -- both of which are critical to how well they will fit into an organization.

    While for sure there's potential loss of diversity by having current employees find other people they're connected with as new hires, it's more likely that such new hires will be a good fit to the organization's values and mission.

    Back in the day, when I was just looking for summer jobs, connections were the only way to get jobs in some industries (e.g., the film industry, where I had a job in the motorpool of a large film studio, a job I got through a family connection). But there are some that operate rather more through credentials and achievements, and not only through recommendations and commentions. One of those is academia (generally).

    Finally, I have to note the advice I got from my father many years ago about how to get ahead in an organization. Cynical advice, for sure. But he was a very smart man who lived into his 90's, so had some insight worth consideration. His advice:  "If you want to get ahead, it's not what you know, it's who you blow."  Daaaaad! I exclaimed. Did you really say that?

    "Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts" -- Daniel P. Moynihan

    by zackamac on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:04:49 PM PST

    •  I don't see what's so wrong with (0+ / 0-)

      trying someone out on a contract basis first.  Rather than hire only people referred to the company, how about hiring that person with the great resume, but on a conditional contract basis first.  If you are really good over the 3-6 month period, you will become a full employee.  If not, you get let go.

      •  Such contract positions bread exploitation (0+ / 0-)

        That's the problem with that method.

        I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

        by Futuristic Dreamer on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 09:00:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nepotism is better? (0+ / 0-)

          Obviously starting someone contract isn't the perfect solution, but given the choice between that person never seeing the front door because he/she doesn't know the "right" person and not getting benefits immediately, I would take the latter.  In my experience, interviews and references are a highly flawed method of choosing an employee, tilted heavily toward the people best able to "perform" for a limited amount of time.  And don't get me started on nepotism.  We can network forever and still not know the "right" person.  It is a bad system.  At least starting as a contract employee, you get the necessary experience and exposure, and it usually pays pretty well, too.

  •  We can't find qualified people (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sethtriggs, BusyinCA

    To fill our open positions.  For all the talk of high unemployment, unfortunately it's the unskilled workers who are getting hit hardest... and they're the ones usually most in need of a paycheck.

    Live in or willing to relocate to the Pacific NW?  Have database development with a focus on financial or accounting software?  PM me a link to your LinkedIn profile.

    If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, get one.  That's how I got my last job.  

    GOD! Save me from your followers.

    by adversus on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:15:18 PM PST

    •  What happened to on-the-job training? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NoMoreLies, zackamac, sethtriggs

      The problem I see with that, and it's a common problem, is that you're looking for someone with "database development with a focus on financial or accounting software."  You could, you know, hire someone and then train them to work with financial or accounting software.

      28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

      by TDDVandy on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:19:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  On the job training isn't practical at this level (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        IT Professional, sethtriggs

        There are plenty of opportunities for people getting into software or database development fresh out of school.  

        A Professional Services group in a software company where the average salary for NEW hires is closer to $100k than $50k isn't an "on the job" training opportunity.

        There's a ramp up process, to be sure.  New hires have to learn our product and platform, and learn our market space we operate in.  But we need people who can come in, ramp up in 3-4 weeks and begin immediately having an impact on our pipeline (which is what I worry about) and on our bottom line (which is what the execs over me worry about).

        What we are getting are fresh college grads expecting $80k a year out of the gate, or people who just spent 5 years at a HelpDesk writing JavaScript and now think they're hot stuff.  I can't justify hiring that person at $60k a year and then spend 12 months training them when our sales team is selling more product, our consulting team is implementing more product, and my team is being asked to customize more product.

        The well trained, well educated, seasoned Professional is harder and harder to come by.  

        GOD! Save me from your followers.

        by adversus on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:51:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Anyone who's good with DB development (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        IT Professional, sethtriggs

        should have no problem putting their database development skills to different uses, including financial accounting software, but teaching database development is way beyond on the job training.

        I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.

        by Futuristic Dreamer on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 09:07:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Same here (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      We cannot hire enough good, experienced Business Intelligence/database people (also in Seattle, but with work all over the country). Particularly those with solid business analysis talents and the ability to consult.

      While we do occasionally hire less experienced people, we don't generally hire people with no experience in databases, SQL, or BI. Referrals from people we already know is almost always more successful than just the job boards.

      I would recommend as a starting point to find out the user groups and professional organizations that are in the field that you want to get into. I could (and probably should) do a longer diary on how I got where I am now.. but suffice to say, not having a college degree hasn't been a career killer for me in this field.

      I will also echo that if you DO have these skills, PM me or find me on LinkedIn too. I would love to talk!


    •  Why a PM to a linkedin profile? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sethtriggs, brn2bwild

      Why not just post the link to monster or dice Ad right here?

      Is your company seriously looking for someone?

      LinkedIn profiles generate a wave of unwanted contact and intrusion into a person's private information.

  •  Thanks, now I have DKos rubbing it in my face too (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks a lot.

    I worked hard, studied hard, went to good schools, performed better than most of the other students, worked for a year of unpaid highly-skilled labor in the internships that were supposed to 'lead to something.' I've applied to hundreds of positions over the past two years. I played by the rules my whole life and I did everything they told me to do. I have nothing to show for it.

    It's all just a big joke.

  •  Well, that being said... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sethtriggs, brn2bwild

    ...anyone want to hire a DC-based political consultant/attorney who's barred in two states (MD and CT) and a damn fine writer?

    I will work for Scotch.

    "Speaking for myself only" - Armando

    by JR on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 11:05:53 PM PST

  •  I think the who you know worked well until (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sethtriggs, brn2bwild

    this last recession.  There were no jobs and NO ONE wanted to talk to you.  It was extremely tough even for highly skilled people, trust me I met tons in my job search classes, volunteer activities and other things I did to find jobs and also stay active.  

    •  Seriously (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I belong to a shitload of professional organizations and attend the events.  I've met individually with dozens of people.  They tell me the same thing: you seem really smart and nice, but we don't have any work, and we don't know anyone who does.  It's always possible that something might open up, but you might not have the 6 to 8 months to wait until that happens.

    Recommended by:

    Go to the San Francisco Professional Career Network website which is as follows:

    All of you who are looking for the job should add a profile on Meetup and Join.  If you find you can't register, no problem.  Just show up at the event location and you'll be fine.  Everyone is welcome.

    These events bring unemployed and working professionals together.  Details are as follows:

    When:  Every Tuesday
    Where:  390 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA
    Time:  9 am - 11 am

    You'll thank me later.

  •  This is news? (0+ / 0-)

    What color is the sky on your planet?

    "Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left. We simply can't afford to double-down on trickle-down." Bill Clinton

    by irate on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 02:02:32 AM PST

  •  no "others" need apply (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the growing racial and class segregation  of our communities is the other side of the coin to the friend-of-a-friend economy.

    I asssure you the young adults I know graduating from high school in Newark do not have the networks the ones graduating in Princeton have available to them.

    Unless, of course they join someone's political machine.

    It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

    by sayitaintso on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 04:51:41 AM PST

  •  jesus h Christ on a bicycle (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sethtriggs, BusyinCA

    getting a fucking job should not be as daunting as auditioning for a Hollywood movie or Broadway play. But that's what it has become. So what chance do those of us who are middle aged, less attractive and credentialed from average colleges have? Even with a connection? My wife is a biologist who has connections and that's only been good for 3 interviews in a year, none of which led anywhere and one fo which, at a major ivy league university hospital, only paid 40k. Another friend is an accountant with decades experience with a large utility who is now earning 36k managing collections for a townhouse complex. Seriously, where are we headed with all this? The jobs just aren't there and I'd recommend Mike Rose's new book Back to School.

  •  With networking you'll end up with an organization (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sethtriggs, brn2bwild

    riddled with cliques and a lot more office politics.

  •  It's not about who you look like (0+ / 0-)

    The focus on "internal referrals" mainly means that companies are looking more to this medium, and the reputation you build on this medium, for new hires.

    That's a good thing, not a bad thing.

    It really started in the software market during the last decade, particularly open source. Most open source companies I've written about get nearly all their new hires from among people who already work with the software, people who answer others' questions about it on forums, who contribute bug fixes, and who participate in the development of the code.

    This means they're more qualified, and can hit the ground running, than previously.

    Oh, and if you're looking for a "job" you're missing the point. Stop thinking "job." Think career. Make yourself the only choice for the career path you set out for yourself. You can do that using this medium as well.

    Just look at all the great DailyKos writers who've gotten jobs over the last decade, in media, in campaigns, in all sorts of places. Is that now a bad thing? No, it's a good thing. Because employers knew, before these folks were hired, what they would be getting, and knew they would like it.

    by Dana Blankenhorn on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 07:01:43 AM PST

    •  No, it's actually a bad thing (0+ / 0-)

      The problem is that most people need that first career stepping stone before they can become the seasoned professionals who can land new opportunities without blinking.  That first one is often intensely difficult to get, especially now.  That is why so many people think in terms of "job" rather than "career" -- because that career is in no way a reality yet, and the "job" they get will often dictate the shape of their career.  

  •  Networking and forging relationships is crucial. (0+ / 0-)

    No matter your background. Turning HR duties over to a computerized robotic application is a terrible idea and no way to combat prejudice. If you want to clamp down on bigotry in employment, enact and enforce a civil rights statute with teeth. Yes, that will cost the holy job creators money. Do it anyway, if only to keep America competitive. The best and the brightest is no place for W.

    Affirmative action is best at identifying qualified men and women of color and bringing them into the world of education, employment and yes, networking.

    Anyhow, although I dislike linked in, maybe we can trade links. I'm working on my ph d in communication disorders and looking for research and writing opportunities in NYC.

  •  Recruiting is hard (0+ / 0-)

    Recruiting for professional positions is time consuming, expensive and easy to get wrong.  

    Here's the case for increasing internal recruitment:

    1) The quality is better.  
    i. If you are in a company that is concerned with performance, employees will refer candidates they expect to succeed for their own professional reputation as much as anything else.  
    ii. Since it is a personal referral, the candidate is a known quantity.  Chances are your going to get this right more often than hiring a stranger.
    iii. New employees that already know someone at their new company, will have be productive more quickly as they have a bit less to get familiar with
    2) It's cheaper.  Recruiting through a placement agency can cost as much as a third of annual salary, $33000 for a hundred thousand dollar annual position.  Companies that offer a generous referral bonus, like $5000, still save a bucket of money.

  •  I too need a job (0+ / 0-)

    I am a 46 yr old male with a MBA was with my last firm for almost 20 years, I needed to resign to care my son.  As a result i am unable to collect unemploymentthis, during this time I moved to a new state. So now that he is back in school, I am searching for a new job, without success.  Next month will mark 1 year of zero income, savings nearly gone, I am going to be forced to take a job as a cashier at a fast food joint.  Too many Americans are in my boat, very sad.

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