“It’s about who you know.” New Study Unveils the Secret to Landing a Job at the Best US Companies

There are three things that can land you a job: skills, experience, or potential.

But as this latest study from Switch On Business shows, you might need one more thing: a connection or hook-up at the company you’re applying to.

That’s because an increasing number of companies are now using referral schemes to hire new staff.

Find out who they are below.

Salesforce recruits the highest percentage of employees through referral schemes

Salesforce loves the employer referral recruitment model. More than 4 out of 10 (41%) of its current staff were referred by another employee. That’s the highest employee referral rate in the entire study.

Salesforce’s high referral rate is not a coincidence. The company actively encourages referrals by offering enticing rewards. Staff members can earn cash rewards and extra days off for recommendations. Referring a friend or former colleague can trigger an annual bonus of $3,000.

The firm also runs regular employee referral social evenings. These are events where staff can bring friends along for an informal mingling event with the Salesforce recruitment team and hiring managers.

Employee referral rates in the Fortune 500 companies

Jobs don’t get much more competitive than the most sought-after roles at companies in the Fortune 500. These companies hire the 1% of the 1%, so applicants need to look for any advantage in this super selective job market.

A killer CV and long list of achievements are prerequisites for these jobs. But the thing that really tilts the odds in your favor is not what you know, but who you know.

The Fortune 500 companies with a high percentage of employee referral rates include Devon Energy, Booz Allen Hamilton, and gaming franchise giant Activision Blizzard. In each case, around a quarter of employees were referred by a friend or family member at one of the firms.

Employed referral rate by different types of buses and industry

Around 11% of all job offers in the USA employment market are made to people who were referred by a current member of staff.

That figure jumps to 17.37% when looking at the amount of referred job offers in US tech companies.

Media is an industry famous for being tight-knit and insular, which explains why 12% of all jobs in the sector were offered to someone who already knew someone at the company.

The industry with the lowest number of employee referrals is retail. Only 6% of retail staff are classified as referred employees.

Employee referral rates at tech companies

Employee referral schemes are very much part of the norm in tech recruitment.

For example, ZoomInfo has an employee referral rate of just over 30%, meaning 3 out of 10 workers at the firm were recommended by a current staff member.

The data shows a similar proportion of referred employees at several other big-name tech companies, including HubSpot, DocuSign, and Splunk.

Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg is infamous for betraying friends in his pursuit of tech greatness. But his firm still loves hiring its staff’s friends. According to the research, one in 5 of Meta’s workforce had a friend, relative, or former colleague who helped them get a foot through the door.

The most employee referrals of any US retail company

Retail isn’t well-known for its employee referral model. However, a few companies buck that trend. 

Electronics retailer Avnet has a generous referral scheme for staff. It’s the main reason why 20% of the firm’s hires came via a family or friend recommendation.

Referring people for jobs in the finance sector

Northern Trust Asset Management is one company where every aspiring finance professional would love to work. Salaries start well into the six-figure range, and bonuses for the best performers can add up to small fortunes.

Most people who send in a CV don’t even get a courtesy ‘no thanks’ email. Instead, the company prioritizes hiring via its referral scheme. And that’s created a tight-knit, family feel where 25% of staff were hired through recommendations.

There’s a similar vibe at crypto exchange Coinbase. The firm is notoriously selective, preferring to hire internally or via recommendations from current staff members.

Jobs for friends and family in the media

Salem Media Group is a Christian content producer that prides itself on promoting family values. And it takes that same family-first approach when hiring. With a score of 25.98%, it’s the media company most likely to hire someone its staff are friends with or related to.

Employee referrals in retail

There are some big names in the retail sector of the industry. But there aren’t many big numbers next to them.

Only 8% of staff at sportswear giant Nike were referred. That figure is even lower at Under Armour (6.11%) and Victoria’s Secret & Co (6.03%).

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