3 Things I Have Learned From Interviewing a Hiring Manager from Swisscom

How many people do you think are hired by an organization just because they know somebody there? 

Do you still think that applying for jobs online will actually get you a job? 

How much time do you spend on job applications compared to the work that actually matters, which is talking to people?


The Outsourcing Convention and the Hiring Manager from Swisscom

Two weeks ago, I attended an outsourcing conference in Switzerland and met many interesting people in person. Interestingly, one of my readers from the Ukraine was there as well. That’s how small the world is.

I spent most of the evening with a hiring manager from Swisscom and asked him a few questions. I concluded the most interesting outputs for you below.


1. How many people do you hire because you or somebody from your team know them already?

I wanted to know how important is was for him to hire people he knows or if he was ok with hiring strangers. As a matter of fact, he hired 66% of all people because he or somebody from his team knew them already. Only 33% of all people he hired were applicants that came from HR. And he is certainly not the only one who hires like this.

If a hiring manager needs somebody in a critical position, which is almost all positions that are worth creating today, he wants to hire somebody with a low risk of failure. Hiring people and firing them again in the first months is extremely expensive and a huge issue for the hiring manager.

He said “When I hire somebody who has been referred from my team, I trust they can do the job. They probably won’t recommend anybody if they are not sure that this person is a good fit. Their name and reputation is at stake. Therefore, if somebody is recommended from one of my employees, I always interview them first.”

If you skimmed through this part, read it again. It is so important to understand how this works. A little math game here for people who like numbers:


Situation 1 – You apply for a job

33% are hired like this and you face an average of 99 competing applicants: Your chance is 0.33%.

Situation 2 – You get referred by an employee

66% are hired like this and you face an average of 3 competitors (Usually less or none): Your chance is 16.5%.


Which option do you prefer? Print this blog post, mark the numbers and stick it somewhere you see it so you constantly remind yourself, which type of work during your job search really matters.

If you want to build your network in Switzerland, why don’t you join the Career Network Switzerland and connect with me directly on LinkedIn.


2. How important is German for your organization?

Because most of my readers and clients are English speakers, this might be very interesting for you to know. Here is what he told me: “The level of German is not that important to me. A person needs to be able to read technical documents in German and understand a meeting in high German but can respond in English if they wish to. So the level of German has to be intermediate but there is no need to be fluent.”

I know many organizations that state exactly the same. So get some German classes, get to an intermediate level and your chances to work for such an organization may increase a lot.

Interestingly, HR will tell you a different story. They will tell you that you need to speak fluent or at least very good German.

Why is that?

It’s mainly because they have the choice. If they get 100 applicants with 20 of them being great matches (at least based on their CVs), they can choose. Why would they hire somebody with no or intermediate German if they have the choice?

Provided that your skills and experience are not completely irrelevant, hiring managers will hire you because they like you. HR will forward your to the hiring manager if you have the best matching CV. Big difference.


3. How does the process works when you hire somebody new?

I wanted to know what happens behind the scene where most outsiders can’t look into. So when he feels the need to hire somebody new, this is what happens:

1. He asks his entire network of people he trusts if they would be interested in joining or if they know anyone

2. He asks his employees if they know anyone who would like to join the organization

3. He asks HR to open a new job posting and send him applicants


Only if nobody in his entire network is able to refer him anyone, he goes to HR. Before that, you will never see the job advertised and he will be able to hire somebody in 66% of the time like that.

Only in those rare cases where nobody can refer somebody or the job is just too boring or unattractive will it be posted on the job boards.


Ignoring and Following my Advice

Many people contact me and ask for advice about their CVs, cover letters, how to apply for jobs and what the magical formula is to get an interview when applying for a job. My answer: There is none, stop wasting your time with job boards.

I ask them how many people they met face to face for coffee or lunch last week and how many of their closest friends they asked who they know in the specific area they want to work in. Sometimes the answer is “What do you mean by talking to people face to face?” or “I sent out 15 applications but have not received a single positive answer”. That’s not following my advice, that’s completely ignoring it.

Then, there are the exceptions. Most of my coaching clients are the exceptions. Therefore most of them get a job that they love, which is better than the one they lost and in return I get to see them thrive again. It’s not a coincidence. They talk to people.


Your Conclusion

I hope you learn something from this because it’s how the real world out there looks like. People hire people they like and trust and you get a job by talking to people.