Why your job search is not working


Randstad and Future Workplace conducted a survey of 1,200 managers and employees to research the interaction of people with technology at work. The findings covered the life cycle of work from hiring to onboarding to performance on-the-job. Among the findings: employees ranked a company’s career website as the number one place they look for open positions (71% spent time job hunting on employer websites), while only 58% of managers felt their company career websites yielded the best applicants (63% of managers cited employee referrals as the most successful source for top applicants).

Managers are less optimistic about their own company websites for filling jobs than job seekers are. If managers are more bullish about employee referrals as a source of top candidates, then job seekers should spend less time on the websites and more on their networks. Yet, the same Randstad US and Future Workplace survey also showed only 48% of employees invest time to nurture job referrals.

Don’t pick easy over effective

Beware of the streetlight effect, or the phenomenon of looking for something only where it is easiest to look and not necessarily because you’ll find it there. The streetlight effect is best explained by a joke you probably have heard:

A drunken man is seen crawling around the ground late at night, under the glow of a streetlight, looking for something. A police officer asks the man what he’s doing there, and the man responds he’s looking for his keys. “Did you drop them over here?” the police officer asks. “No, over there,” replies the man, pointing to a completely different section of the street “but the light is much better over here.”

Similarly, looking for a job on a company website is easy and convenient, but it may not be the best place to look . I have written before about the power of referrals to tip the scales in hiring. I have also written before about how job postings can often be incorrect. Now this latest survey reinforces the importance again of prioritizing actively networking for referrals over passively responding to jobs online.

Do not default to relying on technology over person-to-person interaction

When I work with job seekers, we cover both referrals and job postings as possibilities for finding that dream job. It is not only one or the other. However, if you do embrace networking, be careful not to rely too much on technology even here. Social media activity, email and text are all efficient forms of communication. However, they complement, not replace live and phone interaction.

Technology is a great tool for increasing the volume of leads for your job search. Posting on social media platforms curates your expertise and brands you to a broader market. Social media also enables you to network with a wide group of people who happen to see your comment, blog or update. Emailing brief check-ins with your network is a quick and effective way to stay front of mind, especially if you know how to follow up on your contacts without pestering them.

That said, live and phone communication enables you to engage and impress in a more powerful way. Executive presence is important in hiring decisions, and you can more easily demonstrate this in a person-to-person interaction. You can immediately gauge someone’s reaction, including their support for you as a candidate or willingness to refer you, by talking to someone directly. You can then course-correct your approach in real-time, rather than waiting for a reply, as with social media or email communication.

It is tempting to focus on convenience, especially when you’re in full job search mode and busy juggling so many things. It might feel more comfortable to scroll through job postings online or push out a social notification to the masses, rather than to schedule a live coffee talk, commute to the meeting place, and focus on just one person. However, as the Randstad US and Future Workplace confirms, networking and getting that referral is more powerful than scouring websites and social media .

Prioritize activities that matter the most. In the intersection of technology and people for your job search, people-focused efforts yield the best results.

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