Is HR on your side or public enemy number one? In most cases, human resource professionals are doing the best they can to find and hire the best candidates. What should you know when you're looking for a job?
They hope you're the right candidate.
People in charge of hiring want to find the best candidate to fill the job in the most efficient way. If you are that candidate, HR is likely rooting for you. Face it, no one wants to have a long, protracted process to fill a role if it isn't necessary. This is the good news for candidates: if you've passed an initial screening, it's possible the job is yours to lose. Follow best practices for interviews and don't screw up and the job could be yours.
They prefer to hire via referrals.
This shouldn't be news to job seekers. Job search coaches have long described the "hidden job market," which refers to unadvertised positions filled by known candidates. CareerXRoads reported in their 2013 Source of Hire Report that for every 100,000 external hires, nearly 25,000 were filled in part through the company's Employee Referral Program. CareerXRoads says, "We estimate that a candidate who has acquired a referral is 3-4 times more likely to be hired."
These data should compel you to spend less time applying for random jobs and more time cultivating relationships with people who may potentially refer you to opportunities.
A large number of jobs are filled with internal candidates.
We've all heard this story: a job is posted for legal reasons, but everyone knows it's a formality, as a candidate is already identified and, for all practical purposes, already has the job. CareerXRoads' findings indicate that this scenario may happen more than we think. Their report notes that current employees fill 42% of all the openings.
Some companies have preferred pipelines for candidates.
If you meet people who work at your target company and everyone seems to have a similar work history – perhaps most employees worked at one or two other organizations before landing at this organization – it's not an accident. Some companies actively recruit and source from their competition or have other preferred companies where they like to find their hires. You may be best off identifying this early in your search and targeting opportunities at the preferred source.
They hate when you look desperate.
There's a fine line between appropriately persistent and desperate, and this threshold shifts based on individual personalities. Yes, hiring managers are making snap judgments about you. Should you follow up after sending an application if you have not heard? It can't hurt to send a friendly note, email or to leave a voice mail a week later. Should you call twice a day to ask about your status? No.
They're vetting your background.
We've all heard stories about companies who don't screen candidates or who wind up hiring people who faked their credentials. It's much more likely that HR is looking deeply into your background, and that includes tapping into information they've asked your permission to access, such as your credit history, as well as what is readily available online. Potential employers will Google your name and review your social media profiles, and they will make decisions based on what they find. For example, if your public Twitter stream suggests you have a volatile temper, expect employers will see it as a red flag and move to the next candidate.
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