If you're out of work and looking for a job, or you're just fed up with your current position, you're in luck as the labor market is steadily improving. Though the current unemployment rate of 8.8 percent is far above normal levels – somewhere in the 5 to 6 percent range – it is a drastic improvement from the 9.8 percent unemployment rate logged in November 2010.
Many businesses are looking for quality workers as they grow their employee pools, but many are facing a dearth of quality candidates. As a result, many companies are encouraging their employees to be on the lookout for talent and are offering cash bonuses and other monetary incentives to compel their workers to refer potential job candidates, NPR reports.
According to labor market analysts, there are openings in nearly every industry right now as an economic recovery takes hold. In fact, a report released Wednesday illustrates the economic expansion is starting to branch to most sectors. Employee referral programs are becoming increasingly common as companies trust their current workers are adept at identifying the qualities they are looking for in future employees.
"We've had great success with it," Virginia Mason Medical Center human resources director Jennifer Richards said of the hospital's employee referral program. The medical center, which is one of Seattle's major health care providers, has hired many people through referrals from its employees, including medical workers, IT professionals and administrators.
According to many hiring managers, they are much more likely to consider a candidate who has been referred by a current employee over a random recruit. "I think one of the things that we get by bringing on board somebody who's known by one of our staff members is we have already begun to establish an element of trust," affirmed Mary Pirnke, a recruiting supervisor.
That sentiment goes bother ways: New recruits often feel more at home when they first start working at an institution that they've been referred to. Poorva Virginkar, a recent referral hire at Virginia Mason Medical Center, asserts her first day on the job was less stressful than her first days at other companies. The first day at the hospital, she received an email from an employee who referred her. "Let me know how I can help you in any way. And let's get coffee," the email read.
A lot of companies are hiring now, too. According to a recent report from ABC News, a majority of the nation's biggest employers are seeking out new talent as they look to expand and capitalize on the economic recovery. McDonald's, Intel and Google are plan to expand their labor forces this year, according to a study by consulting firm Challenger Gray & Christmas.
Nonetheless, as companies continue to hire, they are still cautious as they worry about inflation and other economic phenomena that could bring the recovery to a halt. Now – perhaps more than ever before in the last few decades – having a referral can help you land that coveted position with Google or Facebook.
"I think you're going to find many companies continue to use project, temporary or contract workers as strategic alternatives for hiring," Ajilon Professional Staffing vice president Doug Arms affirmed. As a result, hiring is expect to continue in a steady manner, though that referral could propel you over the competition.
Of major U.S. companies, here's a list of 10 that plan to hire a substantial number of employees in 2011. If you're mulling over making a big move, you may want to check out their job listings – and your LinkedIn network to see whether you're connected to any of their employees.
1. Home Depot : 60,000 new workers.
2. McDonald's : 50,000 new employees.
3. Lowes: An additional 10,000 throughout the year.
4. Ford : 7,000 new workers to be added.
5. Google : 6,200 employees to be hired.
6. Intel : 4,000 increase in its workforce.
7. Quintiles : 1,700 new employees.
8. Amazon.com : 1,600 new workers.
9. YRC Worldwide : 1,100 new employees.
10. Wells Fargo : 1,000 additional employees.