Against a backdrop where employees are constantly networking through portals such as LinkedIn and maintaining a social profile that might help their career path, recruiting through referrals has gained importance.
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In fact, recruiters say that those employees hired through a personal reference tend to understand a company's culture better and therefore stay longer with a firm than those hired via more traditional routes.
"Recruiters, HR managers and hiring managers are reasonably good at identifying candidates with the right hard skills using traditional approaches, such as structured interviewing or assessment centers, but it's a lot more difficult hiring for soft skills," said Michael Wright, the head of talent acquisition for Asia-Pacific at GroupM, the media investment management arm of WPP – the world leader in marketing communications services.
"Our clients retain us for the high caliber thinking our talent can deliver so that makes us exceptionally particular in our hiring. Past performance remains a great predictor so we thoroughly investigate the opinions of former co-workers to validate the potential of a candidate," he added "That also translates to referrals being an optimal route for us and many of our successful hires come through referrals."
According to Jobvite's Finnigan, about 40 percent of all hires on the jobvite platform are made through employee referrals.
Data from eFinancial careers shows that 42 percent of workers in Singapore say networking with their peers is the preferred way to build their career. This was followed by staying up to date with industry news and analysts, which was the preferred choice for 26 percent of those surveyed.
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"I am old fashioned, I like to recruit the traditional way, but I know the world is changing, it's all about networking," said one senior manager at a multi-national firm in Singapore, declining to give his name. "I think referrals are the best way to go, nobody is really going to recommend someone that will make them look bad."
— Writing by CNBC's Dhara Ranasinghe. Follow her on Twitter at