How Kevin Bacon will help you find your next job

Everyone knows the phrase “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” But have you ever actually played? I hadn’t until my husband suggested the title of this blog and we went to How hard could it be to name an actor more than two degrees separated from Kevin Bacon? The answer: really hard. The man is REALLY well connected.

We all don’t work in Hollywood so maybe Kevin Bacon might not actually help you find your next job but your network will.

As a recruiter, I’m often asked where my best hires come from. IBM? Goldman Sachs? Google? Close. Referrals. And I’m not alone. In a 2015 study by Jobvite, 78 percent of the 1400 recruiters surveyed said they found their best quality candidates through referrals. This is up from 60 percent in 2014. The study also shows that the proportion of candidates hired through a referral is about 40 percent, which seems a little high but is still relatively consistent with what I’ve seen at some of the companies that I’ve recruited for.

Your network is not just your friends, college roommates and former colleagues. It’s friends of friends, current roommates of your college roommates and colleagues of former colleagues. If you find a job that really interests you, it’s easy enough to go onto LinkedIn to see who you might be connected to, even if it’s not a 1st degree connection. Ask for an introduction. Grab coffee. Learn more. Become a referral.

Get noticed

Recruiters find candidates through several different channels: social networks, direct applications, outside agencies, former interns and job boards. Some openings get more than 250 applications and each resume gets approximately 6 seconds of a recruiter’s time before a decision is made. Referrals, however, get preferential treatment. When a current employee or someone in our network shares a resume with me, that candidate goes to the front of the line. Their resume gets reviewed more quickly and thoroughly, they land a phone interview (even if they don’t look perfect on paper), they get a second look from the hiring manager.

Why? Because someone I trust – the referrer – has done the hard part for me: they have pre-qualified you and can speak to your fit in a way that I could never assess through a phone screen, let alone a scan of your resume.

Land the job more quickly

That trip to the front of the line also means that you might get hired more quickly. According that same Jobvite study, applicants hired from a referral begin their position more quickly than applicants found via job boards and career sites (after 29 days compared with 39 days via job boards and 55 via career sites).

Stick around

The last thing you want to do is start a job, end up unhappy and quickly be out on the job hunt again. Likewise, the company has already invested a lot in you and really wants this to work out. Unfortunately, roughly 1/3 of all new hires quit in the first six months. You are more likely to remain with your next company if you’ve arrived there via a referral. The Jobvite study tells us that referral hires have greater job satisfaction and stay longer at companies – 46% stay over 1 year (compared to 33% from career sites and 22% from job boards), 45% over 2 years (compared to 20% from job boards).

Why? Because you’re likely more knowledgeable about the company and therefore have made a more educated decision about whether the company is a good fit for you. That inside scoop from the referrer is one of the few opportunities that you have to get an honest assessment of a company’s culture and whether it’s an environment in which you will thrive. Having a connection in a new organization makes it easier to integrate and more quickly add value.

The payoff

The average referral bonus is between $1000 – $2500 per a survey by WorldatWork. A small price for a company to pay for a high-quality hire who is likely to start sooner and remain with the organization longer than a non-referred hire. So, work your network and let your friend (and new colleague) buy you dinner with their bonus. After all, earning it was easier than connecting Greta Garbo to Kevin Bacon (Greta Garbo was in Ninotchka with Tamara Shayne in 1939 who was in I Can Get It for You Wholesale with Edna Reiss Merin in 1951 who was in Enormous Changes at the Last Minute with Kevin Bacon in 1983).

For more on the power of your network:

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