Hiring authorities have spoken and they agree; networking is the most valuable tool in the job seeker’s arsenal.  The least effective process for finding a job: attending job fairs.

In a new survey that asked human resources executives to rate the effectiveness of various job-search methods on a scale of 1 (least effective) to 5 (most effective), networking averaged a 3.98.  About half (48 percent) of the respondents gave networking the highest effectiveness rating of five.

The survey findings were released Monday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., which conducted the poll the first week of August via e-mail.

The second most effective job-search tool available is a relatively new one.  Social/professional networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, garnered an average rating of 3.3, with 47 percent of respondents giving it a rating of four or five.

Meanwhile, job fairs ranked as the least effective job-search method, scoring an average rating of 1.6.  It was followed closely by responding to newspaper classified ads and sending resumes to employers, which each averaged 1.7 on the rating scale.

Job fairs are particularly ineffective in recessions.  They are heavily attended by job seekers and lightly attended by employers.  Many of the employers that do attend are seeking very low-level workers, volunteers or unpaid sales representatives/franchisees who would have to be prodigious sellers to make a living wage.

And, while job seekers do get to interact with a representative of the company at the job fair, it hardly qualifies as networking.  The employer representative is rarely a decision maker and simply there to administer and collect applications.

Survey respondents gave Internet job boards relatively high marks.  It averaged a middle-of-the-road rating of 3.0, but 38 percent of respondents gave it a 4.0.

While the Internet has the potential to be very useful for job seekers, Challenger said that it has become the primary tool for many, when it should be considered secondary to the traditional technique of networking and meeting prospective employers in person.

surveyIt is important to remember that the job search is a multifaceted process.  Those who rely on just one tool, even if it is networking, will take longer to find a position.  The problem with the ease and accessibility of the Internet is that many job seekers make it their primary job search tool.

Overuse of the Internet also threatens to prolong the hiring process on the employer’s end, as well, by inundating employers with irrelevant resumes.  Some human resource executives complain that for every qualified candidate that comes in from the Internet, there are 10 to 20 who do not even come close to being a good fit.

The more irrelevant resumes that hiring managers have to wade through in order to select the handful to bring in for interviews, the longer it takes to fill the position.  One result of this has been the increased use of digital screening software that scans incoming resumes for keywords.  Resumes without the right words are filtered out of the process.  This will make it even more difficult for job seekers to get their resume in front of the hiring executive.

This is not to say that the Internet has not revolutionized job searching.  It has certainly made it easier for someone in San Francisco, for example, to search for job openings in Miami.  In addition, the ability to conduct keyword searches has reduced the amount of time it takes to target the type of position a person is seeking.

Job seekers must learn how to use all of the tools at their disposal, including networking, the Internet, newspapers, job fairs and even cold-calling employers.



  1. This is very useful. The helps people understand the methods of job searching that is most beneficial. While the overview is interesting, is the full report available? It would be good to understand the audience, the questions, and the full results to help not only rank these functions but to understand what percentage of time one might apply to each method.

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