Want the Job? Get Referred!

4/18/2018
Tri-valley Career Center

If you’re tired of applying for jobs and never hearing a word back, you're not alone. Lack of response is one of the biggest frustrations job seekers face. What can you do to increase your chances of getting noticed and even landing a job interview? According to job search expert Hannah Morgan, the answer is to get referred for the job. Recent data shows that referred applicants are 15 times more likely to be hired than applicants who apply via a job board. Additionally, almost 80% of recruiters report that referrals are their preferred method for finding quality hires.

Getting job referrals may not be as difficult as you think. Many companies have internal referral programs. iCIMS, a talent acquisition solution software provider, reports that more than three-quarters of U.S. workers say their company has an employee referral program, including incentives for employees to refer candidates for job opportunities. However, even if employees are willing to refer candidates, you have to be willing to ask for the referral.

A good place to start is by contacting people who work inside companies you are interested in working for. Build relationships with people you don't know and nurture relationships with people you may have known in the past but haven't stayed in touch with. Let your contacts know the types of roles you are interested in. If a job opportunity develops, it will be easier to reach out to the people you've been networking with and ask them to refer you for the job.

If you find a job opportunity in a company where you have no current contacts, use LinkedIn to identify friends or friends of friends inside the company. Heather Huhman (5 Ways to Win an Employee Referral and Get Hired) recommends first looking at your LinkedIn connections to find your strongest relationships, such as people you’ve met at networking events, previous coworkers or fellow alumni. See if any of these connections work for the company that’s hiring or are connected to others who work there. If you identify appropriate connections, reach out and ask for a referral.

Another approach to finding referrals is to get involved with industry and professional organizations. When joining an organization, you’ll have access to professionals in your industry who might be able to connect you to job opportunities, and as they get to know you, be willing to write a job referral.

Asking for a job referral can feel awkward and challenging. Unless you have enough relationship with the contact to ask for a referral in person, the recommended approach is to ask in writing - a letter, an email or a message on a networking site such as LinkedIn or Facebook. Career expert Alison Doyle says it's better to ask in writing than over the phone because it gives the potential referrer time to think about a referral and accept or decline without feeling uncomfortable. If you don't know the person you're asking very well, or if the potential referrer isn’t familiar with your current work history, offer to provide an updated copy of your resume and information on your relevant skills and experience. (Note: be sure the resume you send is targeted for the job and company.)

In a competitive job market it’s important to get on the radar of potential employers. Leveraging the power of company connections through job referrals can give you the competitive edge you need to get noticed and get hired. Remember, referrals are the number one way to get an interview.

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