Maybe it isn't just about who you know.

Pew Research Center  reports that the percentage of U.S. adults who used online resources during a job search in the last two years and the percentage who relied on professional and personal contacts is roughly equal, at about 80 percent.

The statistic is promising for companies that make it their business to provide online networking and job application tools, but could also mean job searching will get harder for folks who lack internet access or who are not digitally literate.

Among those surveyed, a larger proportion utilized online resources than other non-technology means.

  • 45 percent have applied for a job online
  • 34 percent of those who sought work in the last two years said online resources were their most important source of assistance in job hunting
  • Around 30 percent used employment agencies, print ads and/or went to job fairs/conferences as part of their job search

This relatively high acceptance of internet tools as means of connecting with potential employers means word-of-mouth may soon pose less of a challenge to networking sites like LinkedIn and Monster.com and startups like WayUp, a networking platform for college students and recent graduates, and Jopwell, which seeks to connect companies with with black, Native American, and Latino applicants.

The shift is good news for the types of candidates different online job tools aim to help, but does not signal an all-inclusive pipeline to work.

"Online proficiency has become more and more important to finding work in today's job market, but some aspects of the digital job search are a substantial challenge for many Americans," Aaron Smith, an associate director of research at Pew Research Center, said in a statement.

Among Americans who are not retired or disabled, not insignificant percentages reported various issues with online job searching resources.

  • 17 percent said they would have trouble making a professional resume if needed
  • 12 percent said it would be difficult to go online to look for jobs, and/or that they would have trouble filling out online job applications
  • 11 percent said it would be difficult to follow up with a potential employer by email
  • 10 percent said they weren't confident they could even look up job-hunting services online

In many cases, "individuals who might benefit the most from being able to perform these behaviors effectively -- such as those with relatively low levels of educational attainment or those who are currently not employed for pay -- are the ones who find them most daunting," said Smith.