HR Pros Say Networking, Social Networking Best Job Search Methods

If you're job hunting, it's still about who you know. Hiring managers ranked traditional networking and social networking as the most effective way for professionals to find jobs, according to a survey recently conducted by Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Forget job fairs and spamming potential employers with your résumé. If you're looking for a new job, networking should be your primary job search strategy, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by Challenger, Gray and Christmas.

[ Not comfortable networking? See How to Network: 12 Tips for Shy People. ]

The outplacement firm asked HR executives to rate on a scale of one to five which of nine job search methods were most effective:

  1. networking
  2. using social networking sites
  3. targeting management recruiting firms
  4. using online job boards
  5. applying to jobs via an employer's website
  6. cold-calling employers
  7. sending unsolicited résumés to employers
  8. responding to newspaper classified ads and
  9. attending job fairs

Networking came out on top, with a 3.98 rating and nearly half of hiring managers (48 percent) ranking it a five (with five being the best).

Hiring managers named online social networking as the second most effective job search tool. They gave websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter a 3.3 score, with 47 percent of survey respondents rating it four or five.

[ Find more job search tips in CIO.com's IT Job Search Bible. ]

Targeting management recruiting firms and using internet job boards tied for third place. Both methods earned average ratings of three from hiring managers. Applying directly to a position posted on an employer's website ranked fourth, with just under a three rating.

The poll results also showed that hiring managers don't think much of cold-calling. They rated it 2.2 on the five-point scale, which placed it squarely in fifth place.

Responding to newspaper classified ads and sending unsolicited résumés to employers didn't fare much better, both of which received a 1.7 rating. (You can find out if your résumé is generating hiring managers' interest in Job Search Tips: How to Find Out if Hiring Managers Are Checking You Out.)

Job fairs were deemed the least effective method, garnering a rating of 1.6 on the five-point scale.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger stated in a press release that attending a job fair "hardly qualifies as networking" even though job seekers have the chance to meet with company representatives because those company representatives are rarely decision makers. They're simply there to collect applications, he said. What's more, he added, many of the employers that do attend job fairs are there to find low-level workers.

Challenger also noted that while searching and applying for jobs over the Internet is the primary job search strategy for many job seekers, they'd be better served by spending the bulk of their time networking and making the Internet their secondary strategy.

"...the job search is a multifaceted process," Challenger stated in the release. "Those who rely on just one tool, even if it is networking, will take longer to find a position. ...Job seekers must learn how to use all of the tools at their disposal."

Challenger, Gray and Christmas conducted the survey in early August via e-mail. More than 200 HR executives responded.

Follow me on Twitter @meridith.

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