August 10th, 2021

How to Network to Hire & Why It’s Critical for Employers

Employers who actively network to hire new team members have a significant advantage. If you aren’t currently networking as an employer, doing so will widen your pool of candidates and help you compete in the marketplace for employees. If you aren’t familiar with how to network to hire, we have some steps you can take to approach it strategically. Like those looking for a new job, networking can be just as useful for securing talent.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that 85 percent of jobs are filled by networking. 

For many of us, networking can be daunting. But it’s a vital component to having a successful career. Networking is the process or act of exchanging information with others for a purely professional reason. If done well, networking is mutually beneficial to employers and employees. It allows us to strengthen relationships, improve our reputation, gain new perspectives, and broaden our knowledge.

Using networking as a recruiting tool can be just as useful. According to Glassdoor, on average, a job can attract as many as 250 resumes. Whether that’s the case today or not, sifting through even half that many applications can take valuable time. And it’s tough to know without speaking to those candidates which would be the best employee for your role. A better solution is networking to hire.

Benefits of Networking for Hiring

Networking is a long-term hiring strategy. Those who may not be actively looking for a role, but are qualified, may be open to a discussion later on. Networking also acts as a filter for candidates, ensuring those you get in the door are the right ones. And it makes it easier to attract applicants when the market is especially competitive — like it is now.

More specifically, networking as an employer provides you with access to:

  • Quality candidates: Only those who have left good impressions on you or your existing team members — and vice versa — are likely to apply to roles you’re sharing with them. And after forming relationships, only those who are serious about the role and joining your company will be inclined to apply, or else risk wasting your time.
  • Faster hiring: If you’ve established a strong network, you may not have to advertise a job before you’ve got three to five strong candidates ready to interview. This saves hours on creating a job posting, filtering through resumes, and conducting phone screens. However, networking still requires time and investment over the long-term — but provides faster talent when you’ll likely need it most.
  • Less turnover: Acquiring an employee through networking usually fosters trust more quickly. Typically a relationship has taken weeks if not months or years to form. Over time your prospective employee can gather the information they need to feel confident in a decision to join your team. And as a result, they are more likely to stick around long-term.

How to Start Networking as an Employer

Networking should be approached strategically, like any hiring strategy. To start, treat your prospective employees like customers. Most recruiters nowadays will tell you that recruitment is becoming more like marketing. Candidates need to be aware, interested, and considering your company and role before they apply or accept a job offer. Some steps to get you started are below.

4 Steps to Creating a ‘Networking to Hire’ Strategy:

  1. Build a profile: Before beginning to network, put together a profile of what your ideal candidate looks like based on skills and experience. Make profiles specific to the role and match them to the job description. Whether it’s you or someone else in your company doing the networking, a profile is the first step in filtering through candidates.
  2. Identify events, platforms, or networks to participate in: Networking can be performed in two ways — online and through face-to-face interactions. Networking doesn’t mean you have to be on all the sites and at every event. Just like a creative marketing agency might look to Pinterest, a construction company might focus on job fairs for candidates. Think strategically about where your ideal prospect might be and focus on those few locations.
  3. Build your reputation: As you begin networking online or in person, candidates will look for more information about your company. Having a website, social media presence, and profile on job boards will allow them to research and gain answers to the initial questions they may have. It also looks professional and provides a good impression that you’re a serious employer. Glassdoor reports that a strong employer brand increases the likelihood that applicants will apply and reduces your cost per hire.
  4. Maintain communication: As you build your pool of candidates, maintain communication with them. After an introduction, invite them to coffee or lunch — especially if the relationship was formed online. It might not be possible for everyone, but meeting in person is another way to build trust more quickly.

Use Your Existing Employees to Build a Network

If you find networking too time-consuming or costly, the easiest way to incorporate it into your hiring process is to reach out to your existing employees. Notify employees of open positions regularly and encourage them to share the roles on social media — offer an incentive if you have to.

Many organizations will provide a bonus to employees who have recruited a new team member after that team member is hired and has been at the company for a specific period of time. The best candidate could be your current employee’s neighbor, spouse, friend, or family member.

There will be people you network with who you don’t hire. But that doesn’t mean you won’t later on. Retain a list of potential candidates like a virtual bench for future roles. Having three to five names you can immediately reach out to when a position becomes available builds better connections and gives you a leg up on recruiting.

There are many approaches to improve hiring that employers can use outside of networking. To learn more about how you can find and hire qualified candidates, download our guide. We’ll share four additional strategies you can implement today to attract top talent.

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