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One Thing Executives Can Do to Improve Their Job Search Results

Referrals! Recruiters and hiring managers tell us that they will go through their referrals before looking at other candidates. And some companies are highly recommending that executive recruiters look at referred executives first. Industry leaders predict that in three to five years if you are referred to an executive recruiter for an open position, you are 14 times more likely to get the job.

improve_executive_job_searchIt’s not a surprise that half of the people who apply for a job are not qualified. In the mind of the executive recruiter or hiring manager, a referral is more likely to be a qualified candidate. When it comes to choosing the final five candidates, typically two of those five were referred.

In three to five years how many out of 100 executives applying for a position are going to have a referral? Predictions point to about 15 to 20. And how many of the top five finalists are going to be a candidate that was referred? Forecasts are that they will ALL be referred.

Referrals are the highest hire rate. Why?

  • Because birds of a feather flock together, so people tend to refer similar individuals, and executive recruiters know this.
  • The retention rate of a referred executive is higher, especially when a satisfied employee is the source, and that saves the company money.
  • Referrals are exclusive. Recruiters get hundreds of resumes for a job opening – too many to review sometimes and following up on a referral or two is quicker and easier, and “golden” if it is the right fit.


The United States is moving towards 60% to 80% of all hires coming from referrals. This is not true worldwide. Common cultural differences exist. In Australia, they don’t think referrals are fair. In Southeast Asia, there is huge angst over referrals. In some Asian countries if a top executive makes a referral and that person is hired but doesn’t succeed, the executive will quit over loss of face. In India, the only people they refer are usually relatives.

When executive recruiters don’t have referrals to start with, they know how to find them. BlueSteps is one place they tap for executive candidates. An executive’s completed BlueSteps profile is key to being found and considered for a current search.

And let’s not forget LinkedIn. Recruiters start searching by zip code, job title, and keyword search. They reach out to their connections and contact people who may either fit their search or know people who might. And they check each of those people to see who they are connected to, searching current and prior companies, school alumni, etc., before contacting them for an initial screening interview.

Recruiters are masters at drilling down to the information that would qualify someone as a fit for their search, which is why executive recruiters use resources like BlueSteps and LinkedIn BEFORE they Google you. These are prime resources for professional information on potential candidates. Don’t be misled by this statement, they will still Google you to check for online engagement and any digital dirt that may exist.

Bottom line: Continue networking throughout your career to keep that referral pipeline filled and make sure your BlueSteps and LinkedIn profiles are up-to-date and robust with a large network!

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Source: Statistics and facts about recruiters and recruitment trends were gathered from Gerry Crispin's "The Future of Recruiting" presentation at the Career Thought Leaders conference.

For more executive job search tips, register today for Career Transition Planning: Finding Your Next Opportunity, a complimentary executive webinar.

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About the author

Louise Garver's picture

Louise Garver, certified executive resume writer, branding and job search strategist/coach with BlueSteps Executive Career Services, has guided executives across industries and disciplines to land their ideal position in less time while maximizing their compensation. She would be happy to share this vital information with you! Energize your search and learn how to navigate easily the complex job market with her step-by-step job search system.

Learn more about the BlueSteps team of career advisors and the services they provide to help you improve your career trajectory here.

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