Saturday, August 30, 2014

履歴書 – Japanese Résumés (blog post by former CIR Daniel)

Reposted from

履歴書 – Japanese Résumés


Japanese résumés, unlike American résumés (and I assume other Western résumés), follow a rigid format. They sell special résumé paper here that is gridded into different categories. Applicants fill them out by hand in their prettiest handwriting and stick on a photograph of themselves.

If you have confidence in your kanji skills and a ton of free time, you might consider filling yours out by hand – that would have to be really impressive to anyone looking to hire. I myself couldn’t be asked, so I created a résumé in Word using tables. It covers all of the basic categories and was relatively easy to edit. I’ve edited it into a mock résumé for Lupin III and uploaded it here. Feel free to download it and adapt it for your own uses. I originally created the file in Word but have been editing it in Open Office, so I apologize if the formatting is a little finicky. If it comes in handy for you, send me your success story.

A couple of interesting differences with an American résumé:

- Japanese use photos on their résumés. You will go far if you are tall, dark, and handsome with striking sideburns.

- Japanese put their date of birth, age and sex on résumés. Too many X chromosomes, and you may be serving tea.

- A lot of people list their hometown and parents. I was encouraged to do this by a teacher I was working with. This could be especially effective for foreigners because katakana may help with the pronunciation of difficult city names.

- There is a lot of what they call 自己PR (literally “self public relations”) that goes on with résumés and also job hunting in general. It reminds me of the pep rallies at the junior high school where I taught. The teams lined up individually and the kids had to give a self-introduction. They go down the line one by one and say a little sentence about themselves: “Hello, I’m Taisuke in the second year. I will do my best at the tournament and run as fast as possible.” The kids all vary their statements slightly (“I will give my best effort.” “I won’t ever give up.” etc.), and I always felt bad for the last guy because all the good words had been taken! 自己PR is kind of like this, but you have to say what your strong points are. I always felt like it was a load of crap. To give you an idea, here’s what I use on my actual résumé: ひとつのことにこだわらずに、いろいろな角度で物事を考え、見て、行動できることです。そのときの状況を踏まえて行動できるからこそうまくいきます。 Basically I have a short attention span and am good at extemporaneous bullshitting. And remember, those words are mine – you’re next in line, so get your own!

- While the document is two pages, Japanese résumés are double-sided, so this is actually a one-page résumé. Always print them on one page.


Tags: , , ,

8 Responses to “履歴書 – Japanese Résumés”

  1. sade Says:
    wow, thanks for this, i was just wondering how to put together a resume while here and this is really helpful
  2. sixmats Says:
    It wasn’t long ago (2003) that people were still handwriting these things.
  3. Daniel Says:
    I think they still are. I saw some handwritten ones when I was job hunting last year.
  4. Ashley Says:
    Hi Daniel, this post is right on time, as my CIR-ing days are coming to a close and I am trying to get a handle on job-hunting strategies in Japan! When you were applying for jobs, did you submit a 職務経歴書 along with your resume? Is it something that you should always turn in just in case, or only when the employer asks for it?
  5. Daniel Says:
    Hmm…I didn’t submit a separate 職務経歴書, but I did include all of my relevant jobs and experience on the regular Japanese resume I made. I was never asked for anything in addition to what I submitted.
  6. Daniel Says:
    From facebook friend Geraldine: Do you know you can download very good Word and Excel templates from the microsoft Japanese URL? Once printed, they look exactly like the one you buy.
    The thing that upsets me the most is the Education section. One line for the year you entered high school, one more for the year you finished high school. Seriously, who cares which high school you’ve graduated from? It’s a waste of those precious lines!
    Even though the education of a Japanese applicant usually consists of four lines (two for high school, two for uni), the resume allows enough lines for a PHD. But you’ll run out of space if you have more than one degree at each level…

    The same is true for the Employment section : one line per experience, and you don’t have many lines since in Japan, people who change employers too often are still considered to have some kind of a problem. You are not supposed to write how great you were in each position, which I suppose is good if you actually weren’t. You’ll just look as good as people who were (good).
    Really hard to sell yourself with a Japanese resume…
    And Wake: I haven’t had to write a Japanese resume, but we recently had to include a family picture on our daughter’s kindergarten application. Also, my brother-in-law applied to a wife-finding service and had to include *my* education and job history.
    To which I responded:
    Whoa, Wake. That’s intense on both accounts. Has he found a wife yet?
    And Geraldine, do you have the links to the templates? I’d love to share those. Oh, and by the way, you clearly have too many degrees. ;o) I think the back is definitely where you BS about your specific skills/experience.
    And Geraldine responded: Sure! You’ll find all many microsoft templates here (Japanese only):
    The classical one being (Excel) or

  7. Daniel Says:
    Facebook friend Rocco says: mmmm… I suggest writing both a 履歴書 as well as a職務経歴書 if you are applying for a job. 職務経歴書 is more forgiving with space and gives one ample opportunity to plug education and work history.
    And Kaida says: When I applied for current/ past employers (all 外資系 – western companies’ subsidiaries in Japan) , I didn’t hand in Japanese style resume. I submit western style one and it’s direct translation in English.
    Japanese style resume is widely used for old-stylish companies with lifetime employment because they need a person who can work for a company for a long time. What HR looks for are motivation, good education history, and potential. That’s why “self public relation” is important – not job achievement.
    Japanese traditional style resume is not used widely anymore at blue chips. Panasonic only takes western style resume (they have their own style format, you can fill them in Japanese) and Sony requires you to type them online (Japanese resume could be used only for first screening)
    And I replied:
    Rocco: Hey cool, someone asked me about 職務経歴書 on the website comments, so I’ll post up your suggestion.
    Kaida: Thanks for the great info! Very detailed and useful. I never did too much serious 就職活動, so I only had the chance to give out a couple of my resumes. I found that the Japanese formatted resume was a nice ice-breaker at job fairs and stuff, especially if you can talk to someone important. I only applied to one company and had to fill out all the information on computer anyway, but I think even just having a formal-looking resume was a plus.

-Updated by Vince on 22 Feb 2013

Monday, July 21, 2014

Resume advice from the experts

Resume - “greatest hits” mix (get their attention, show your range of transferable skills)
  • Are you qualified?
  • Can you do what I need you to do for me?


- judgment, simplicity

  • Where can I find you?
  • Save space and send updates


- IQ, EQ

  • How did you demonstrate IQ and/or EQ at university?
  • If your GPA was below 3.5, demonstrate how your spent your time at university


- demonstrated achievement, transferable skills

  • Are you qualified for the position I am offering?
  • Can you do what I need you to do for me?
  • Will you make more money for me than I expect to pay you?

  • context - job description
    • YOU MUST UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE before your write your resume
    • Do NOT assume hiring managers will appreciate your accomplishments
      • You need to EXPLAIN the context of your achievements on your resume
    • Show the benchmark (avg. satisfaction survey results 85%)
    • How did you improve upon the work of your predecessors? What was your impact?
    • Pick your job description bullet points STRATEGICALLY
      • You don't have space to put everything you did, so you must focus on emphasizing those things you want to convey about each job
    • Help hiring managers understand that you do not fit the stereotype of someone with your background
    • Clever hiring managers look for unusual combinations
    • "We like to hire engineers with people skills. And we like to hire poets who can do math."

  • 3 core skills spell TAI
    • Technical
    • Analytical
    • Interpersonal
      • T (languages, including computer code, accounting: certificates, testable)
      • A (curriculum development, decision making)
      • I (kids, parents, politics, public speaking, leadership)

  • demonstrated achievement - bullet points
    • Keep the points short and to the point. A good rule of thumb is 2 - 4 bullets per job experience, ideally most bullets being 1 line long.
    • Don't write everything you did on the job, focus on what is most RELEVANT to recruiters in your target industry
Emphasize OUTCOMES, not just responsibilities
How did you go above and beyond what was asked of you in your job description?
How did you solve one or more specific problems in this job?
What were the problems or challenges that you or the organization faced?
What did you do to overcome the problems?
What were the results of your efforts?
When possible, QUANTIFY your accomplishments with numbers

  • quantifiers
    • #
    • $
    • %
Use superlatives like "most," and "highest." How did you take the initiative?
Show "firsts."
Add keywords such as "first," "youngest," "only," "best"
When have you been the first person to achieve something important?
When have you been the youngest in a team?
When have you been the only person representing your country, company, or team?
When you have you been formally or informally recognized as the best person in a project or team?

  • qualifiers
    • F
    • Y
    • O
    • B


- languages, technical skills (certifications), balance, dedication, sense of humor

  • Do I want you at my party?
  • Would I want to sit next to you on a five hour flight?

  • conversation starters; unusual combo; sense of humor
Certifications, honors, achievements, leadership activities?
When did you start this activity?
Travel is interesting, but rather than simply listing countries you have visited, I encourage you to add some highlights.
Add specific details that might start conversations, especially if your interviewer enjoys similar activities or has visited similar locations.
What is your favorite place?
What do you enjoy most when traveling?
Extreme cuisine?
Spiritual activities?
Sports like scuba or hiking?

MS Office is expected, not impressive
Only add if your words-per-minute typing speed is exceptionally fast
or if you have advanced macro programming skills in Excel

Other tips

Quantify translation skills


  • Just write: references available upon request
  • Hiring managers will ask for them as needed

Use “resume English” to save space

  • Remove articles ("a," "an," "the") to save space
  • Change all numbers (words) into numerals (1, 2, 3)
  • Remove final punctuation since these are not full sentences

Fun resume sample (don’t try this at home ;-)


• This format allows on-campus recruiters to focus on your resume’s content rather than stylistic differences

• We get consistently positive feedback from employers on our format

Employer testimonial:

“This format is ideal. It is a concise one-page snapshot of a X student’s previous achievements, which allows us to review resumes thoughtfully and efficiently.” -McKinsey and Company


• Resumes may be no longer than ONE PAGE (A4 or 8 ½ x 11)

• DO NOT use tables on your resume
• Tables cause difficulty both with company application websites.

• Margins can not be smaller than .7 inches on all sides

Tabs and Alignment
• Locations should be right-aligned
• Bullets should be left-aligned and should not spread to the right margin

• Size: 10 or 11 point Times New Roman. Do not make your name larger than the rest of your resume
• Caps and Bold: The following should be in BOLD CAPS. Do not use bold in other places on your resume

• Your name
• Section Headings
• School Names
• Company Names
• Italics: Job titles should be in italics.

Publications may be italicized if appropriate

• Lines/Underline: There should be no lines or underlining on your resume, except if you are listing “selected transaction experience” in your experience section


• Include the month and year you received your degree


• Capitalize the first letter of languages spoken, if included
• You may want to include any certifications you have obtained
• Be specific in this section – do not just say “enjoy traveling and cooking” – instead say something like, “enjoy adventure travel” or “recently traveled to Ecuador and Indonesia” and “enjoy cooking Northern Italian cuisine”


• Dates should be flush with the left margin
• Company names should be in CAPS and bold
• Job titles should be in italics
• Specific dates for different positions within the same company should be listed after the job title — the dates in the left margin for that company should reflect your entire term of employment at that company
• Don’t include internships completed in undergrad as part of this section. They should be included under Education as one bullet

Use chronological format
• List education and business experience in REVERSE chronological order (most recent first)
• The “Education” section should be at the top of your resume

• Write out all years fully: “2005-2009” – NOT “05-09”
•Do not include months
• Internship dates should be identified by season, e.g. “Summer 2009”

• Abbreviate all states for locations of employer and school, e.g. “IL” not “Illinois”
• Spell out names of foreign countries
• Spell out addresses

• Write out number one through nine.
• Use numerals starting with 10

Personal Information
• Do not include personal information on your resume (e.g. marital status, children, etc)


Your bullets should not read like a job description. They should feature skills, actions and results.

Consider following this formula:
Strong Lead Action Verb + What You Did = Results

Quantify: “Designed and implemented new volunteer model in Tanzania, expanding volunteer base by 30%

• Increased (sales, profits, margins, value)
• Decreased (costs, inefficiencies, errors)

Scope: “Managed $82M divestiture of division with over $30M in revenue and 100 employees.”

• Define size (team, budget, business)
• Number impacted (people, businesses)

Qualify: “Presented final recommendation to CFO, recommendation ultimately implemented by client.”

• Presented to (senior management, client)
• Delivered (on time, early, under budget) •Implemented recommendation
• A company first
• Adopted across business units

1. Mimic the keywords in the job description as closely as possible 

  • If you're applying to be a sales manager, make sure your résumé includes the words "sales" and "manage" (assuming you've done both!)

2. Visit the prospective employer's website to get a sense of the corporate culture
  • Do they use certain words to describe their values? 
  • If a firm has a professed interest in environmental sustainability, include relevant volunteer work or memberships 

3. Keep the formatting on your résumé simple and streamlined

  • With a past position, the system "sometimes gets confused about which is the company, which is the position, and which are the dates you worked there," especially if they're all on a single line 
  • To make sure you hit all the categories, put them on separate lines 

4. Some screening systems assign higher scores to elite schools

  • You may not have gotten your BA from a top-tier university, but if you attended a continuing-education class at one, include such qualifications on your résumé


    The Wall Street Journal

    Your Résumé vs. Oblivion

    Inundated Companies Resort to Software to Sift Job Applications for Right Skills

    Many job seekers have long suspected their online employment applications disappear into a black hole, never to be seen again. Their fears may not be far off the mark, as more companies rely on technology to winnow out less-qualified candidates.

    Recruiters and hiring managers are overwhelmed by the volume of résumés pouring in, thanks to the weak job market and new tools that let applicants apply for a job with as little as one mouse click. The professional networking website LinkedIn recently introduced an "apply now" button on its job postings that sends the data in a job seeker's profile directly to a potential employer.

    While job boards and networking websites help companies broadcast openings to a wide audience, potentially increasing the chance the perfect candidate will reply, the resulting flood of applications tends to include a lot of duds. Most recruiters report that at least 50% of job hunters don't possess the basic qualifications for the jobs they are pursuing.

    To cut through the clutter, many large and midsize companies have turned to applicant-tracking systems to search résumés for the right skills and experience. The systems, which can cost from $5,000 to millions of dollars, are efficient, but not foolproof.

    Ed Struzik, an International Business Machines Corp. expert on the systems, puts the proportion of large companies using them in the "high 90%" range, and says it would "be very rare to find a Fortune 500 company without one."

    At many large companies the tracking systems screen out about half of all résumés, says John Sullivan, a management professor at San Francisco State University.

    Photo: Getty Images

    What happens to a resume after it's submitted online? Job seekers who apply to positions online complain that they rarely even receive a confirmation, let alone a personal response. Lauren Weber has details on The News Hub.

    No wonder: Starbucks Corp. attracted 7.6 million job applicants over the past 12 months for about 65,000 corporate and retail job openings; Procter and Gamble Inc. got nearly a million applications last year for 2,000 new positions plus vacant jobs. Both companies use the systems.

    Although they originally evolved to help employers scan paper résumés into a database, do basic screening and trace an applicant's path through the interview and hiring process, today's tracking systems are programmed to scan for keywords, former employers, years of experience and schools attended to identify candidates of likely interest. Then, they rank the applicants. Those with low scores generally don't make it to the next round.

    The screening systems are one way companies are seeking to cut the costs of hiring a new employee, which now averages $3,479, according to human-resources consulting firm Bersin and Associates. Big companies, many of which cut their human-resources staffs during the recession, now spend about 7% of their external recruitment budgets on applicant-tracking systems, the firm says.

    At PNC Financial Services Group, which has used the tracking software for 15 years, an applicant for a  bank-teller job is filtered out if his résumé doesn't indicate that he has two to three years of cash-handling experience. PNC emails rejected applicants within a day, suggesting they search its website for jobs for which they are better qualified, says Jillian Snavely, senior recruiting manager.

    A recruiter reviews applicants who make it through the first cut, which includes the résumé screening and a brief questionnaire about relevant skills. Those applicants get a live or automated phone interview.

    Tracking software has its pitfalls. It may miss the most-qualified applicant if that person doesn't game the system by larding his or her résumé with keywords from the job description, according to Mark Mehler, co-founder of consulting firm Career Xroads, which advises companies on staffing.

    But the idea isn't to replace human screeners entirely. Experts say the systems simply narrow the field to a size hiring managers can handle. They also stress that, despite advances in the software, the single best method of getting a job remains a referral from a company employee.

    How to Beat the 'Black Hole'

    You don't have to be an astronomer to know about one kind of black hole: the online job application process.

    But have hope. There are things you can do to increase the chances of getting your résumé through employers' applicant screening systems, say experts Josh Bersin, CEO of human-resources consulting firm Bersin and Associates and Rusty Rueff, career and workplace expert at Glassdoor.

    Below, five tips to up your odds:
    • 1. Forget about being creative. Instead, mimic the keywords in the job description as closely as possible. If you're applying to be a sales manager, make sure your résumé includes the words "sales" and "manage" (assuming you've done both!).
    • 2. Visit the prospective employer's website to get a sense of the corporate culture. Do they use certain words to describe their values? If a firm has a professed interest in environmental sustainability, include relevant volunteer work or memberships on your résumé. The company may have programmed related keywords into its resume screening software.
    • 3. Keep the formatting on your résumé simple and streamlined—you don't want to perplex the software. With a past position, the system "sometimes gets confused about which is the company, which is the position, and which are the dates you worked there," especially if they're all on a single line, says Mr. Bersin. To make sure you hit all the categories, put them on separate lines. And "don't get cute with graphics and layout," says Mr. Rueff.
    • 4. Some screening systems assign higher scores to elite schools. You may not have gotten your B.A. from a top-tier university, but if you attended a continuing-education class at one, include such qualifications on your résumé.
    • 5. But don't ever lie or exaggerate just to get through the screening process. Recruiters and ATSs are savvy about tricks jobseekers use (such as typing false qualifications in white font). "You don't want to get through the black hole and find out it's a worse hole you got yourself into," Mr. Rueff says.

      One small error, such as listing the name of a former employer after the years worked there, instead of before, can ruin a great candidate's chances.


      Résumé overload isn't just a big-company problem. Job seekers often are surprised when they don't hear back from small businesses. These businesses rarely hire enough people to make an applicant-tracking system cost-effective, but even a one-time posting on a well-trafficked job board like can garner hundreds of responses.

      Only 19% of hiring managers at small companies look at a majority of the résumés they receive, and 47% say they review just a few, according to a recent survey by Information Strategies Inc., publisher of Your HR Digest, an online newsletter.

      — Rachel Emma Silverman contributed to this article.

      Copyright 2012 Dow Jones and Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

      Your Questions Answered

      Live Chat: Replay a live chat on making your résumé stand out with Glassdoor's careers expert, Rusty Rueff.


      NYT: How Job Seekers Can Say 'Look at Me' to Online Recruiters

      IF you are thinking of looking for a job this year, or are already searching for one, be warned: for some job seekers, the rules have changed. Technology and social media have altered the way some employers consider candidates. Simply sifting through job postings and sending out applications en masse was never a good route to success, and is even less so now.

      One of the most important questions that many job seekers can ask these days is this: How searchable am I? Some employers aren't even bothering to post jobs, but are instead searching online for the right candidate, said Barbara Safani, owner of Career Solvers, a career management firm in New York.

      Not having an Internet presence can be damaging, Ms. Safani said. She is among those who recommend that job seekers spend serious time detailing their skills and experience on commercial sites like LinkedIn and Twitter, with an eye toward making their names a magnet for search engines.

      "Having a blog can be a good way to show that you are a thought leader" while improving your professional visibility, she said. And consider YouTube as a way to enhance your searchability, she advised. If an employer comes across a video of you giving a speech or a training presentation, she said, you may gain an advantage.

      More companies are turning to Twitter as a way to broadcast job openings, so you should use it to follow recruiters, industry leaders and individual companies, said Alison Doyle, a job search specialist for She said that by linking to articles and sharing your expertise on Twitter, you can enhance your professional reputation - though you should beware of the site's potential as a time drain.

      On Facebook, "liking" a company can mean receiving early notice of job openings and other news. But privacy concerns make Facebook tricky, Ms. Doyle said: Make sure you understand who is receiving which of your posts, or resolve to be thoroughly professional on Facebook at all times, she said. Be aware that hiring managers may see what you post on any of the major social media outlets, she added.

      OLD-FASHIONED, personal networking can still be an effective way to land a job, but online networking now supplements it in many fields. Both Ms. Safani and Ms. Doyle say LinkedIn is a very important Web tool for making those connections.

      The site offers premium services for a fee, but almost all of the main features for job seekers are free, Ms. Doyle said. Spend a few minutes on the site each day making new connections, she advised, and keep your profile up to date.

      To improve the chances that a connection request will be accepted, especially from someone you don't know, send a personal message along with it, noting, say, your similar backgrounds, said Nicole Williams, a consultant who works as a career expert for LinkedIn.

      Baldly asking someone at a company for help in landing a job is never a good idea, on LinkedIn or anywhere else. Share links and advice with people in your LinkedIn network before asking for a favor like an introduction to a hiring manager or a written recommendation that would appear on the site. If you are seeking a particular position, Ms. Doyle said, you might say something like: "I'm interested in this job. Do you have any information that you can share with me?"

      Joining industry groups on LinkedIn can build your visibility. You can also join college alumni organizations or other focused groups, like one for working mothers.

      Make full use of the skills section of LinkedIn, Ms. Williams advised, and the more specific you are, the better. Instead of saying that you have marketing skills, note the exact areas - direct mail campaigns, for example. LinkedIn can direct you to companies that are seeking these skills so you can follow them. Listing your skills could also bring you to the notice of a recruiter.

      Be aware, too, that an employer may be viewing your application via a mobile phone. Mobile traffic involving job search more than doubled in 2012 over 2011 at the employment site, said Rony Kahan, a co-founder and C.E.O. So make sure you know how your résumé and cover letter look on a small screen. Résumés should be in a PDF format so they can be viewed on a variety of phones.

      In the age of online applications, one school of thought holds that cover letters are a waste of time, but Ms. Doyle disagrees. Cover letters are still a great way to differentiate yourself from the competition, she said - and the rise of applications via cellphone just means they should be more concise, and specific to the job at hand.

      NYT: Employers Increasingly Rely on Internal Referrals in Hiring

      Riju Parakh wasn't even looking for a new job.

      But when a friend at Ernst & Young recommended her, Ms. Parakh's résumé was quickly separated from the thousands the firm receives every week because she was referred by a current employee, and within three weeks she was hired. "You know how long this usually takes," she said. "It was miraculous."

      While whom you know has always counted in hiring, Ms. Parakh's experience underscores a fundamental shift in the job market. Big companies like Ernst & Young are increasingly using their own workers to find new hires, saving time and money but lengthening the odds for job seekers without connections, especially among the long-term unemployed.

      The trend, experts say, has been amplified since the end of the recession by a tight job market and by employee networks on LinkedIn and Facebook, which can help employers find candidates more quickly and bypass reams of applications from job search sites like

      Some, like Ernst & Young, the accounting firm, have set ambitious internal goals to increase the proportion of hirings that come from internal referrals. As a result, employee recommendations now account for 45 percent of nonentry-level placements at the firm, up from 28 percent in 2010.

      The company's goal is 50 percent. Others, such as Deloitte and Enterprise Rent-A-Car, have begun offering prizes like iPads and large-screen TVs in addition to traditional cash incentives for employees who refer new hires.

      Economists and other experts say the recession has severed networks for many workers, especially the long-term unemployed, whose ranks have remained high even as the economy recovers.

      Nearly 4.8 million Americans have been out of work for 27 weeks or more, according to the Labor Department, three times as many as in late 2007. The typical unemployed worker has been jobless for 38 weeks, compared with 17 weeks before the recession.

      While the overall unemployment rate has edged downward recently, little improvement is expected for the long-term jobless when data for December is released by the Labor Department on Friday.

      "The long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged people don't have access to the network," said Mara Swan, executive vice president for global strategy and talent at Manpower Group, which provides temporary help and job placement services. "The more you've been out of the work force, the weaker your connections are."

      Although Ernst & Young looks at every résumé submitted, "a referral puts them in the express lane," said Larry Nash, director of experienced and executive recruiting there. Indeed, as referred candidates get fast-tracked, applicants from other sources like corporate Web sites, Internet job boards and job fairs sink to the bottom of the pile.

      "You're submitting your résumé to a black hole," said John Sullivan, a human resources consultant for large companies who teaches management at San Francisco State University. "You're not going to find top performers at a job fair. Whether it's fair or not, you need to have employees make referrals for you if you want to find a job."

      Among corporate recruiters, Mr. Sullivan said, random applicants from Internet job sites are sometimes referred to as "Homers," after the lackadaisical, doughnut-eating Homer Simpson. The most desirable candidates, nicknamed "purple squirrels" because they are so elusive, usually come recommended.

      "We call it Monster.ugly," said Mr. Sullivan, referring to "In the H.R. world, applicants from Monster or other job boards carry a stigma." did not respond to a request for comment.

      Even getting in the door for an interview is becoming more difficult for those without connections. Referred candidates are twice as likely to land an interview as other applicants, according to a new study of one large company by three economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. For those who make it to the interview stage, the referred candidates had a 40 percent better chance of being hired than other applicants.

      For many companies, the odds are even more lopsided. At Sodexo, a food service and facilities management company that hires 4,600 managers and executives a year, referred employees are 10 times more likely to be hired than other applicants.

      "We're focusing on what will be most efficient," said Arie Ball, Sodexo's vice president for talent acquisition. "And it's just easier to connect on social networks than it used to be." The company recently released a mobile app so employees can make recommendations from their mobile phones.

      In particular, LinkedIn has altered the hiring landscape, making it easy for recruiting departments to trace connections between job candidates and their own employees by using LinkedIn's database and software.

      LinkedIn has also eaten into the bottom line of and other online job sites as well as that of traditional recruiters, said Craig A. Huber, an experienced stock analyst at Huber Research Partners who covers LinkedIn and

      Even as the rise of social media changes the landscape for job seekers, the depth of the last recession has eroded labor networks in both the white- and blue-collar worlds, said Judith K. Hellerstein, a professor of economics at the University of Maryland. Skills decline, she said, and friends become reluctant to recommend people who have been out of work for months or years.

      "We're in a period of historic displacement in the labor market," Ms. Hellerstein said. "The long-term unemployed are a huge problem that we haven't figured out. All this human capital is being wasted and their skills are atrophying."

      Referral programs carry important benefits for big companies. Besides avoiding hefty payouts to recruiters, referred employees are 15 percent less likely to quit, according to Giorgio Topa, one of the authors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York study.

      Human resource departments have recognized the same pattern. "Our analysis shows referred hires perform better, stay longer and are quicker to integrate into our teams," said Mr. Nash of Ernst & Young.

      As a result, within the last two years, firms like Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and Booz Allen have created dedicated teams within their human resource departments to shepherd prospects through the system. Over all, Deloitte receives more than 400,000 résumés a year, but recommended employees are guided along by a 12-person team.

      "We had people that felt referrals weren't being attended to or referrals weren't being contacted," said Maribeth Bailey, national director of talent acquisition at Deloitte. "We simplified the process by removing a lot of red tape." Deloitte now gets 49 percent of its experienced hires from referrals, up from 43 percent two years ago.

      Ms. Swan of Manpower cautions that although employee referrals are a valuable tool, "you have to watch the ultimate long-term result in terms of diversity and skills." Otherwise, she warned, "you're going to get people like you have."

      People tend to recommend people much like themselves, economists say, a phenomenon known as assortative matching. Mr. Topa's study for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that 63.5 percent of employees recommended candidates of the same sex, while 71.5 percent favored the same race or ethnicity.

      As a result, some companies are trying to make sure the proportion of employees who are recommended doesn't get too high even as they expand their referral programs.

      At Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the proportion of workers hired through employee referrals has risen from 33 percent to just under 40 percent in the last two years, but the company wants to make sure it doesn't pass the 50 percent mark, said Marie Artim, vice president for talent acquisition at Enterprise Holdings.

      "I think if you begin to creep up to 50 percent or higher, you start to worry about people not getting the opportunity to talk to us," she said. "That's why we look for a balance."

      Need help?

      • Please watch these sample job interview videos on ▸ YouTube
      • Check Vince's resume and interview links on ▸ Delicious

      -Updated by Vince on 18 Feb 2013