Sixty-six percent of job seekers use family and friends to find work

Finding good applicants for open positions is never easy. Indeed, 47 percent of small businesses report few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill. New research suggests attracting these applicants may require rethinking how we find them.

A new study from Pew Research Center reported that among Americans who have looked for work in the last two years, 79 percent utilized online resources in their most recent job search. Thirty-four percent said online resources were the most important tools available to them.

While this is not entirely surprising, the second most-utilized tool might be. Sixty-six percent said they used their connections with close friends or family in the past two years and 20 percent said it was their most important resource. In third place were professional or work connections, with 63 percent using these connections in the past two years and 17 percent considering them their best resource. In fourth place were acquaintances or friends-of-friends, at 55 percent, and 7 percent of respondents considered them their most important resource.

These people-based resources significantly outweighed employment agencies, ads in print publications and job fairs. This means that your people are your best resource for hiring any new personnel. If there is a job opening, their family, friends, acquaintances and former colleagues will be your biggest and best pool of applicants.

When a new position opens, encourage those employees to promote the job and the industry as a whole. It may be worth your while to also offer an employee incentive program that pays employees for referrals if the person is hired and stays for a period of time. In the end, it will likely end up paying you back in spades.

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