Why CEOs Prefer Old-Fashioned Networking When Hiring

Want top-notch hiring advice? Sometimes the best source is at the top of your organization. I spoke with several C-level executives, and every one said their peer network is their first stop when seeking top talent. And overwhelmingly, those networks are tapped the old-fashioned way--not via LinkedIn.

"My preferred route is network first, because of speed, cost and confidence in the decision," says Mark Turner, CEO of WSFS Bank, one of the oldest continuously operating financial institutions in the nation. "I personally don't use social media, primarily because traditional networking is so much stronger, and the costs of social media in terms of increased time burden have outweighed any benefits."

But when it comes to hiring very high-level executives, Turner leaves no stone unturned. To make sure he's getting a diverse talent pool and seeing the best candidates, Turner will consider running a tandem search with help from an executive search firm. "Network referrals tend to reflect the demographics of what you already have," he says.

For Robert Zecca, cultural fit is critical. The former president and CEO of Content Data Solutions, a software systems integration company, and current interim president of Cable Technologies, a distributor of cable equipment for the telecommunications industry, says that to find a good cultural match, hiring through his network--and the networks of everyone he works with--yields the best results.

"I have three criteria which I use in hiring: they must be able to perform the job, their goals must align with the company's goals, and they must fit into our culture," he says. "By utilizing our networks, we find that the latter two requirements align and my job becomes a little easier."

"We would simultaneously work with our HR director while I--and truly, all the employees--would reach out to our networks," Zecca says. "Never underestimate the power of other people's networks, or your own."