Referrals vs Advertisement

I haven’t sat in many interview panels as an interviewer or interviewee. In fact, the thought of sitting in makes me a lot uncomfortable. As an interviewer, there is always a chance that you may let your feelings cloud your objectivity among other risks. As an interviewee, I have always preferred more of a “discussion” than the traditional interview. The latter focuses more on standard questions that have been asked over the years. In fact, most of the interview tips in the internet have listed these questions and proposed answers.

I often find myself debating whether it is better to advertise jobs and go through the normal application process or go out and seek referrals. Both methods work to various degrees of success. However, certain critical roles especially at a slightly senior level require a mix, if not outright referrals. At an executive level, recruiters have always opted for head-hunting, even when they put adverts of the same jobs on newspapers and other recruitment sites.

So, why is this so? A few reasons come into mind:

  1. Some roles are very critical to the organization and employers do not want to take any chances. As a matter of fact, there’s no learning curve and one is expected to hit the ground running from the word go. Results are expected almost instantly. As an accountant, I realized most companies employ accountants when they (company) are already in crisis. Such a task needs a tried, tested and confirmed hand
  2. Many job-seekers have mastered the art of writing CVs and answering interview questions. In fact, it is not uncommon to see companies inviting job-seekers to be “taught” on how to “prepare a job-winning CV” or answer interview questions. Very little is mentioned on the individual’s capacity to actually do the job. Recruiting on the basis of a “perfect CV” or “best interview answers” has proven fatal to many employers
  3. Instances of fraud and other misdemeanors have also necessitated having a “known” person in your team. It helps a big deal to not worry that your employee will engage in such. Should that happen, you also have the comfort that you can trace the person to the original referee.

It is important to note that not all referrals go according to plan. An advise I give both parties is to always do their own checks even if the candidate is referred. As a job-seeker, check out the potential employer to ensure they fit your desires. To the employer, it is critical that you do the necessary reviews to avoid embracing everything just because the candidate was referred. At the end of the day, referral is not an endorsement!


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