Study: Internal Sites, Referrals Key to Finding New Hires

By Susan Ladika

Apr. 9, 2012

While organizations often turn to job search engines and job boards when looking for recruits, a new study finds nearly two-thirds of recent hires actually found their positions through such internal sources as company career sites and referrals.

The report, released April 5 by talent management software firm SilkRoad culled data from more than 700 customers using its OpenHire applicant tracking system in 2011. The organizations in the report, titled Recruitment Marketing Effectiveness: Meaningful Metrics Straight from the Source, ranged from Fortune 500 corporations to those with 100 employees in such diverse fields as health care, financial services, customer service and information technology.

“I was a little surprised that, consistently, the top sources of hires had nothing to do with job boards and search engines,” says Thomas Boyle, director of product marketing at Chicago-based SilkRoad.

Combined, the organizations posted more than 222,000 jobs, which led to more than 9.3 million applicants, according to the study. Those job postings resulted in more than 94,000 hires.

More than 147,000 applicants were interviewed, and internal and external sources each yielded half of the interviewees. Yet internal sources accounted for 63 percent of those hired, according to the study.

Of those employees who came to the organization through internal sources, about half came through referrals, the study says. Internal recruiting and corporate career sites each accounted for about one-quarter of new hires.

For those who were hired by an organization after initially connecting through an online site, such as a job board or corporate career sitethe largest portion of new hires, or about 12,500—came to the companies through their corporate career sites.

Given that finding, it’s imperative for organizations to make the most of their career sites.

“This is today’s storefront,” Boyle says. “You need to sell yourself out there.”

The sites should make it easy for job seekers to find and apply for openings online and to learn about the organization. Boyle recommends using videos and interactive content to highlight an organization’s strengths.

Among the new hires who came to the companies through external sources, more than 85 percent came from online sources, such as job search engines, while the remainder came by traditional means, such as print advertising and campus recruiting, the study notes.

Job-search engine Indeed accounted for nearly 10,000 new hires, followed by job board, which accounted for more than 5,000 hires.

As organizations look for ways to do more with less, they should pay close attention to their internal resources, making the most of referrals and corporate career sites, Boyle says.

“These are really things you don’t pay anything for.”

Susan Ladika is a freelance writer based in Tampa, Florida. To comment, email

Susan Ladika is a writer based in Tampa, Florida.

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