The classic image of a job seeker poring over a local newspaper’s job listings is now a thing of the past.
Today, job seekers rely on a mix of traditional and digital resources when searching for their next role. Companies should post their job listings on online job boards such as Indeed and LinkedIn, network with candidates, and even use social media to hire their next employee.
We surveyed 507 people who began a new job within the past six months to learn more about what resources led to their current role.
Companies can use this report to discover which resources job seekers rely on, along with insights into emerging resources such as social media.
- Nearly half of recent hires (41%) found their current role through an online job board.
- Nearly two-thirds of job seekers (61%) find automatic job alerts helpful.
- One-quarter of recent hires (25%) landed their current job through networking.
- Men and women are equally likely to find a job through networking, but women are more likely to find a job through an online job board (44%) than men (33%).
- More than 1 in 10 recent hires (14%) found their current role through social media.
Job Seekers Rely on Digital and Traditional Channels to Land New Roles
Today, candidates rely on a mix of digital and traditional channels when searching for a new job.
Online job boards are the most popular source of new jobs — 41% of recent hires successfully found jobs through job boards.
Networking, a more traditional approach to job seeking, is the second-most popular way to find a new job. One-quarter of recent hires (25%) say networking led to their current role.
Social media is an emerging source of new jobs, with 14% of recent hires crediting it as the source of their current role. Social media ranges from career-focused sites such as LinkedIn to creative platforms such as Instagram.
Finally, only 5% of recent hires credit an email newsletter as the source of their current job. Examples of email newsletters include industry-specific newsletters that distribute information about job opportunities or newsletters companies publish themselves.
Overall, job seekers increasingly rely on both established and emerging digital channels such as online job boards and social media, but traditional methods such as networking remain valuable.
Companies Should Be Present on Online Job Boards
Companies that are hiring must have a presence on online job boards.
Nearly half of recent hires (41%) credit an online job board as the source of their current role.
This includes people who used general job boards such as Indeed or Monster (33%) and those who relied on an industry-specific job board such as Mediabistro, USAJOBS, or others (8%).
Human Capital Institute (HCI)’s Head of Research Jenna Filipkowski and Research Analyst MaryFran Heinsch both study human resources trends. Their research suggests that candidates may be able to rely on general job boards because the job market favors them over the companies competing to hire them.
“Going to a general job board may be the first step,” Filipkowski said. “If they find what they’re looking for there, they don’t need to take the deeper dive.”
Online job boards are popular and likely to attract quality candidates, so they are a good starting point for most businesses.
If a company is struggling to hire new employees, however, Heinsch suggests evaluating if special effort is needed to connect with the right pool of applicants. For example, hiring a candidate with particular academic qualifications may be more challenging than hiring for an entry-level role.
“If the target audience isn’t visiting job boards with the same frequency as the rest of the employee pool, then you are going to have to specialize,” Heinsch said. “You are going to have to find different ways to reach out, and sometimes that includes different job boards, but sometimes that includes other forms of outreach in addition to the job boards.”
If the target audience isn’t visiting job boards with the same frequency as the rest of the employee pool, then you are going to have to specialize.
Companies that want to hire new employees should be present where job seekers are looking – on online job boards. If an online job board doesn’t yield the right candidates, companies may have to expand their search.
Job Seekers Rely on Automatic Job Alerts
With so many different online job boards available, many job seekers prefer to receive relevant job opportunities via email, rather than endlessly scrolling or checking for updates.
Nearly 90% of people (88%) use automatic job alerts while searching for a new role. More than half (61%) say these alerts are effective, including 21% of people who find them very effective.
Only 10% of people say automatic job alerts are very ineffective.
Filipkowski isn’t surprised by the popularity of automatic job alerts.
“As a user, it’s a simple way to get an email every day or when the new job matches your specifications,” Filipkowski said.
Instead of scanning listings each day, users can conduct initial research, set the alerts they want to receive, and skim automatically curated job listings.
Job seekers opt into automatic job alerts by signing up for alerts related to roles they’ve searched for in the past.
For example, candidates seeking a digital marketing role in New York City can choose to receive notifications when new jobs matching their criteria are posted.
Companies that post jobs on online job boards can increase their chances of appearing in relevant job searches by:
- Writing detailed job descriptions that contain keywords related to the role
- Adding details such as the level of experience they are seeking and the job location
- Clarifying whether the role is full- or part-time
Hiring managers and HR professionals should research similar job listings in their area to determine which phrasing is most commonly used.
Candidates rely on automatic job alerts to discover new opportunities, so companies should optimize their online job board postings to increase their chances of appearing there.
Networking Leads to New Hires
Despite the rise of digital tools for job searching, old-fashioned methods remain important.
One-quarter of recent hires (25%) found their current role through networking, or tapping into their existing social connections.
Networking is an effective way to discover new candidates who are already connected to a company’s employees in some way.
Jeff Rizzo and Matt Ross are the co-owners of Rizknows, a daily deals website, and The Slumber Yard, a mattress review company. When they decided to relocate their businesses to Nevada from California, they chose a location near the University of Nevada, Reno.
When Rizzo and Ross were ready to hire new employees, they began meeting with business and journalism professors with the hope that these connections might lead to entry-level hires who possessed the writing and business skills they were seeking.
“Our interest aligns with the university,” Rizzo said. “They need to get kids jobs, and we want to hire more students.”
Our interest aligns with the university. They need to get kids jobs, and we want to hire more students.
The approach has been successful, with numerous students accepting internships or full-time job offers at The Slumber Yard. The company’s startup culture is a good match for recent graduates’ energy and enthusiasm.
“Seek out the person who handles internships,” Rizzo advises. “That was the most valuable person for us.”
Although digital tools are important, companies should continue to invest time and effort into traditional methods of recruiting, such as networking.
Networking Should Increase – Not Limit – Diversity
Networking is an effective strategy for recruitment, but companies should be aware that it can impact diversity in both positive and negative ways.
For example, men are approximately equally likely to find their next job through networking (26%) and through a job board (33%).
Women, however, are more likely to find their next job through an online job board (44%) than through networking (25%).
According to Pew Research Center, women are much more likely to adjust their career plans for reasons related to their families compared to men. Women who take time off to care for young children, for example, may sacrifice building their professional networks during that time.
Companies that rely on networking to hire new employees can inadvertently limit diversity at their organizations. For example, some companies that prioritize hiring candidates who attended Ivy League universities may miss out on talented candidates who attended other schools.
Kenneth L. Johnson is president and founder of East Coast Executives, a recruiting firm that specializes in helping companies increase diversity within their organizations. He believes that beyond the business case for diversity, hiring a diverse range of candidates is simply the right thing to do.
“Wouldn’t you want to expose your organization to the entire scope of talent in the workplace?” Johnson asked.
Businesses that are interested in increasing diversity can connect with a variety of professional groups:
- The National Black MBA Association
- The National Association of Asian American Professionals
- The Association of Latino Professionals for America
- The International Association of Women
These and other organizations host conferences, share job listings with members, and help businesses forge meaningful connections with new candidates.
Johnson suggests that the best solution to increasing diversity is often the simplest one: Engaging with your community.
“Tap into your unique community and just be out there promoting your organization,” Johnson said. He suggests volunteer efforts, social media, or other activities.
Once a company begins to increase diversity, focusing on retention is crucial. Employees who receive mentorship and have a direct impact on their organization are more likely to stay.
Networking is an effective way to discover new candidates, especially if it is done strategically.
Companies Can Find Candidates Through Social Media
Social media isn’t the most common channel for recruiting, but it’s an emerging trend companies should pay attention to.
More than 1 in 10 recent hires found their current role through a social media platform.
The social media platforms candidates use vary depending on candidates' work and industry.
For example, a visual designer or photographer is more likely to make professional connections on a visually-driven platform such as Instagram, while a candidate in a traditional business role is more likely to find meaningful connections through LinkedIn’s social network.
Some social media platforms are embracing their role in recruiting. Facebook, for example, now offers a feature for businesses that want to hire local candidates.
Companies can post their job opportunities on Facebook and promote their listings to users scrolling their newsfeed.
Once a candidate applies through Facebook, companies can set up video interviews and even make an offer within the platform.
Labor Finders is a staffing company that specializes in matching candidates with temporary roles in construction, maintenance, electrical, and clerical roles. The company maintains a network of local Facebook pages to connect with candidates nationwide.
As a social media coordinator at Labor Finders, Michael Loguidice posts relevant social media content that helps candidates get a feel for companies they might work for. Labor Finders' recruiters also host Facebook Live video streams to share the latest updates about new opportunities.
At Labor Finders, recruiters often work with tight deadlines, so Facebook’s streamlined process helps candidates get to work faster.
“We get a lot of applicants, and the best part is they don’t have to do much in order to apply,” Loguidice said. “We can even start the conversation right through Facebook Messenger. It’s extremely time-efficient and effective for our offices.”
Facebook has been a successful source of candidates for Labor Finders, and the company plans to continue using this strategy in the future.
Loguidice believes that more companies will use social media to connect with candidates in the future.
“If you have everything on your mobile phone, if that’s your entertainment, your news, your work tool, your communication tool, why not just be able to make it easy for people to apply to a job all in one place?” Loguidice said.
By reaching candidates where they already spend time, companies can make new connections and attract applicants.
For billions of people, social media is a source of entertainment, connection, and possibly even a new job.
Companies Should Use Digital Platforms and Traditional Methods to Hire New Employees
When people look for new jobs, they rely on both traditional and digital channels to connect with companies. Companies should maintain a presence in both areas, too.
Job seekers increasingly rely on digital methods of job hunting, including online job boards, automatic job alerts, and social media. Companies can discover thousands of new applicants by posting job opportunities on these digital platforms.
Traditional methods remain valuable, however. Networking is an effective way to connect with potential new employees, though companies should be mindful of its potential to suppress diversity among new hires.
By casting a broad net that includes a range of channels, companies can make new connections and hire the talent they need.