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Getting hired Spontaneous applications and references key to landing job, survey finds

Unemployed person getting advice on job search

Looking for work? Human resources departments are increasingly accepting unsolicited applications for jobs


Unconventional methods are increasingly used to recruit talent in Switzerland, according to a survey of more than 500 human resources specialists. The survey also found that hiring executives prefer Swiss nationals over foreigners even when there is no legal requirement to do so.

The HR Today Research Surveyexternal link, released on Wednesday, was conducted from April to August 2018 by the trade journal "HR Today" and Von Rundstedt career consulting firm.

Some 54% of survey respondents regularly consider spontaneous applications, in other words applications that are not in response to a job advertisement. Although company webpages and job boards remain important recruitment tools, 73% also described the personal networks of current employees as rather or very important.

Personal references for evaluating candidates are important. While 91% contact these references on request, 60% draw on personal references without the authorisation of candidates.

This reliance on informal references is one of the more surprising findings of the survey, according to Von Rundstedt CEO Pascal Scheiwiller.  

He laid out some of the reasons for this approach in an interviewexternal link with Swiss public television, SRF. “Firstly, I get an honest answer through an informal reference, and second, social networks make it very easy to figure out which contacts I know and could approach,” he said.

“(But) we were not aware of how many people fall back on informal references that are not legally allowed,” he added. This raises questions as to whether such an approach violates data protection laws.

Nearly 80% of survey respondents said they prefer Swiss talent over foreigners when profiles and qualifications are both sufficient.

The survey also confirmed that the shortage of skilled workers remains a significant concern, particularly in the German-speaking part of the country.  

Some 81% of respondents indicated that they did not believe that new regulation, which obliges employers to register relevant job vacancies with regional employment agencies, would improve the talent shortage situation.

Job vacancies in Switzerland rose sharply from July to August.  According to the Michael Page Swiss job index, the number of jobs advertised rose by a record 3.8 percent during this period. Nine out of ten were in German-speaking Switzerland.



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