I've been studying a lot of materials on how to tailor the CV and cover letter and having a high hope by sending applications to every relevant position I find advertised here and there. However, I've heard from several people that the whole game is mostly about having an internal referral in the company/application or not. I've been told that around 70%-80% of job interviews/intakes have heavily relied on a direct or indirect internal referral the applicant had.

Is it really like that?

  • Where I live (university town with a very small tech/science/ engineering industry), 80% seems accurate. It will necessarily vary from place to place. This number doesn't change what you have to do, however.
    – Pete W
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 23:29
  • Also, importantly: For entry level it is mostly a non issue. No expectation of any network in the field/industry
    – Pete W
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 23:38
  • I don't know the exact percentage. But yes, it's like that, I used to work as an intern in the HR of a large DOE laboratory. It was definitely like that in our organization. It was even my job to tick a checkbox in our database when your resume came with a referral. You didn't necessarily get the job, but at least, you usually got a courtesy interview if you applied for an open position and were referred by someone internally. Commented Feb 21, 2021 at 7:51

2 Answers 2


Yes, it is really like that.


Also, from my work with the Dept of Labor, I can confirm this number as what I was taught to use while teaching my classes.

This is why making interpersonal connections is so important. The larger the network of people you can draw on, the better your chances.

Now, this does not mean that you know someone, they introduce you to someone, and you get the job.

What this means is that through your network, you get various advantages by knowing people. These advantages include:

  • Knowing about job openings that may not be published
  • The name of the hiring manager
  • A contact inside who can make sure your resume gets seen by the right people.
  • An invitation to an interview

It's still up to you to pass the interview and get the job, but yes, about 80% of jobs come from people you know. It can be just passing off information like:

"Hey, my company is hiring, apply to this job, I think you'd be great, include my name as a reference"

To more direct (and advantageous) as:

I gave my boss your resume, and he's interested. I've put in the good word, and he wants to interview you.

Make as many friends as you can, and let EVERYONE know you are looking for work, that's a HUGE advantage you give yourself when you do.

You don't need DIRECT contacts, but Joe might know that Mike's brother is hiring, et cetera. That saying "It's a small world" really is true. At a past company, I ended up working with a childhood friend whom I hadn't seen in decades. At my current company, I met someone who was friends with a man who mas my boss at a previous company, and another coworker went to work at a company where my brother is a director. We're all connected in that way. What you want to do is leverage who you know into where you want to go.

  • 1
    Well, I have many online connections on Linkedin. But I cannot just ask someone for a referral based on that. Of course, I know colleagues from my studies or the previous job, but that resource is limited!
    – Bob
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 1:49
  • @Bob Real world connections are best. And, as I said, it's not. "Hi, this is Bob, hire me." or "Hi, this is Bob, Can I get an interview." I used to teach an entire class on this. It's a bit nuanced. Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 2:12
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    I don't see how that data implies that networking was actually the deciding factor in those "85%" of jobs. Many companies don't have the resources to advertise job positions to a large audience of potential employees and so the (good) applicants they're going to get will most likely have been referred by someone.
    – Peter
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 10:50
  • 1
    @Bob Here is the link if that doesn't work, my email is in my profile. My family came from Germany, and I work for a German company, so I am familiar with the culture, and can give you culturally relevant advice. Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 15:44
  • 1
    @Old_Lamplighter I sent you an email! Thank you! :-)
    – Bob
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 18:28


There may be places - usually smaller, family businesses - where that may be the case, but for the vast majority of businesses a small percentage of hires are from internal referrals. Whoever is telling you that should probably not be trusted for further career advice.

  • 3
    not true, 85% of all jobs are through networking Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 2:15
  • Depends on the place and job type. The higher up, (i.e. professional, mgmt), the more % hired via pre-existing relationship
    – Pete W
    Commented Feb 20, 2021 at 23:35
  • 1
    @Old_Lamplighter I'm sure networking is important but I'm instantly skeptical of research done by one person with a book to sell, in partnership with a company whose entire business model relies on monetising networking.
    – Withad
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 15:10
  • @Withad those numbers are in line with Dept of Labor statistics, which I was given when I taught a class on the subject for the DOL. They weren't making a dime on the class, as it was free to attend. I wasn't either, as I was a volunteer instructor. Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 16:24

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