Insights

Here’s Why Referrals are Still the Key to Hiring

September 14, 2020

Let’s walk through the most common job application process in 2020: you go to a job board, or LinkedIn, or – if you have a dream company in mind – a careers page on a website. You find a role – say a Category Manager or Supply Chain Lead – that ticks all the boxes. Great location, right industry, strong compensation. You look up the company, or you’ve heard of them before. Maybe they’re growing or well-established in your industry.

You upload that just-polished resume, write a sparkling cover letter, and hit submit.

Then you wait. And wait, and wait, for a reply that never comes. Or if it does, it’s just a form email with little info about why your application hasn’t been passed along for an interview.

Anyone who’s applied for a job in the past 5 years is probably familiar with this process, and with the disappointment it creates. These online job boards and careers pages are nothing new. They’ve been industry standard for a while. Companies do hire successfully through these platforms, and people do hear back from these applications. But the vast majority of the time, they produce the kind of wasted effort that leaves candidates wondering if it’s even worthwhile to be searching. Using job boards is the kind of job search strategy that leaves candidates on the market for longer than they’d like, or stuck in a role where they aren’t satisfied, applying here and there but not getting any traction.

Likewise, companies are often frustrated with this approach as well.

Here’s why: companies are often using automated systems to post these jobs. Sometimes, these systems repost jobs months later, even if they aren’t actively hiring. When they go to job boards, HR and hiring managers receive hundreds of resumes from candidates who, having become disillusioned with job boards themselves, have resorted to sending out resumes en masse to any role that looks mildly interesting. It’s a vicious cycle – tons of applications leads to less attention on each resume, which leads candidates to send out even more resumes in hopes that someone might read it.

The system creates tons of extra noise. So companies will sometimes assign the task of wading through these applications to a junior HR person, who isn’t as well-versed in the specific needs of the job. In Supply Chain, that means that your application isn’t being read by the seasoned Manager or Senior Manager who:

  • Gets the importance of soft skills in the industry today,
  • Can identify a candidate who has successfully broken down silos in their organizations, and
  • Can assess key accomplishments and KPIs.

This leads to a process that hires rigidly to a job description instead of capturing a holistic view of a candidate. It leaves out the human element, which is still, and always will be, the most important element of recruiting.

So how are companies actually filling these roles? For the most successful searches for the most difficult roles, it’s a time-tested, battle-tested method that isn’t going away any time soon:

The referral.

Don’t get us wrong, companies still hire successfully using job boards. But according to LinkedIn statistics, the #1 way people discover a new job is through referrals. The market is saturated with companies selling new automated hiring tools, but the referral is not some an old-fashioned tool. Far from it: it allows companies to use networking and human relationships to cut through the noise of the social media hiring landscape.

Referrals help candidates find the roles that are never posted (which, according to some estimates, amounts to 70% of roles). They let companies hire without ever having to post, and access the candidates who have realized that job boards aren’t the most successful way to find a job.

For hiring, referrals can take many forms.

They can be internal: someone at the company has done their networking, and knows someone outside the company who they can recommend before the job ever goes out to market. They can be informal: a candidate has put in the time to develop relationships in the field, and reaches out to someone within the company for jobs. Or they can be more formal: a Chief Supply Chain Officer, Chief Procurement Officer, or Director, who seeks out a strategic partner like a specialty recruiter who deeply understands the field. In all those cases, the company leverages the power of longstanding, pre-existing relationships to cut through the hoopla of today’s recruitment processes.

Whatever the type of referral, they’re powerful. They may be the most powerful tool in your arsenal.

Referrals power our recruitment practice here at Argentus. When you make it your business – quite literally – to spend over a decade connecting with every Supply Chain professional in Canada, your referral network becomes quite strong indeed. Candidates refer their colleagues who are looking for work, earning a referral bonus after a successful placement. (See the graphic on the right for more details). 

Companies rely on the referral network we’ve built to multiply their internal resources and avoid sifting through piles of resumes. Supply Chain professionals, even if they aren’t looking for a new job, use us as a hub to talk shop, make connections, and see what’s on the horizon.

In 2020, hiring and job searching can feel more complicated than ever, but it doesn’t have to be.

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