The best way to find a job? Don't look.

The fundamental lesson: it's less about the search than the network

By Bloomberg News

Mar 31, 2015 @ 1:44 am EST

Bad news for people on the job hunt: You may be wasting your time. Roughly three-quarters of job switchers never report having looked for a job, which suggests they were approached by recruiters or got noticed through word of mouth rather than diligently uploading their r�sum�s, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

It's not altogether shocking that referrals are important to the job hunt. But the Fed's analysis, based on Census Bureau data, is potentially disheartening for those without an established professional network or a foothold in their chosen industry. Among employed people who have switched companies in the past five years, less than a quarter actively looked for jobs before jumping ship. Even among those who had previously been unemployed, only a third landed a job by applying cold.

Citing research that shows 42% of monthly hires are for positions that weren't advertised, Fed researchers Carlos Carrilo-Tudela, Bart Jobijn, Patryk Perkowski, and Ludo Visschers discuss the "importance of informal contacts" in determining a laborer's ability to change jobs.

Perhaps reassuringly, people who actively search for jobs are still more likely to land jobs than those who don't. About 11.3% of people searching for a job found one by the next month, compared with just 1.8 percent of nonsearchers. "All of this falls in line with the traditional view of the labor market," the Fed says. "People who actively search for jobs are more likely to transition into a job than those who do not." Makes sense: Your odds of moving into a new job are better if you actually do something.

The fact remains, however, that most new hires have been poached from rival companies or recommended by a friend of a friend. Network: Your ability to get your next job may rely on it.

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