There was a thought-provoking article in the New York Times about how social networks drive black unemployment. The article states the hidden force for high black unemployment is their family and friends, where most do not hold a corporate job. I can’t speak about the research since it deals with blacks and caucasians, but I’m going further and saying favoritism is a problem not only among race, but in our networks.
The reason people say networking is the best way to get a job because you would know someone and try to get the best first impression so they would consider you for a job in their organization. That might be fine, but if you’re in recruiting, you are trying to find the best candidates first and then the best candidate(s) that fit in the organization that is currently structured. To find the best, you have to use every resource you have.
In research, it used to be the source of hire is in newspapers. Now, it is internal hires and referrals as the top source of hires. You understand why; people within their company or their networks know the position opening in and out. The problem is do you want to keep it as it is or are you hiring to make the organization better? Actually, you should not be asking that. What you should be asking when hiring someone is what is the climate at your office? If your organization is stable and the numbers back it up, you continue to find or promote workers to keep the machine going. Anything less than that, you have to find the person that can change so your organization is stable.
After you ask that question and if the organization’s climate is unsatisfactory, then find the best person to change that. The easy route is going to your networks to help find who you are looking for. In reality, your networks is your lowest potential reach. If you want to reach to a bigger pool of candidates, go to your social networks, go to your local and regional associations, go post a job at a job board, or any outlet that brings a quality pool of candidates.
The best example is the Rooney Rule in the NFL. Everyone assumes the Rooney Rule, was to give minorities a chance to interview. In almost all these cases, head coaches and general managers are hired because they know someone. In 2007, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who the Rooneys have owned since its inception and what the rule is named after, were looking for a head coach after Bill Cowher retired. They had someone in waiting with then offensive coordinator, Ken Whisenhunt. Instead, they hired from someone outside their circles and picked Mike Tomlin. Ken Whisenhunt then became coach of the Arizona Cardinals that same year. The following year, the Steelers and Cardinals met in Super Bowl 43, where the Tomlin-coached Steelers defeated the Whisenhunt-coached Cardinals.
We can all say we’re looking for the best, but in some cases, our best is limited to a few blocks. There are biases like race, industry, class, location, and others that affects hiring, but to really find the best, you have to open your mind and be open to every consideration out there. If not, the best will walk away without you knowing it.