How to Land Your Next Job through a Referral
If you’re like most job seekers, you’ve experienced this unfortunate scenario: You apply for a position—tailor your resume, craft a compelling cover letter, get your references in order—and simply never hear back from the hiring manager. It’s a frustrating experience, to say the least. But, in truth, your resume is often stuck in a pile of irrelevant applications—overlooked by the decision maker you desperately need to reach.
In his article “The Birth of The Referral Economy,” Forbes contributor Steven Rosenbaum recounts a familiar story: a job listing he posted for a sales position resulted in applications from a barrage of unqualified candidates, including an undertaker, an IRS Agent, and a high school student. “What I really want is a referral,” Rosenbaum writes. “Someone I know who can say ‘here’s the perfect person for you.’”
Rosenbaum’s story demonstrates how important it is to leverage referrals when you’re on the job market. Hiring managers rely on referrals to help them avoid a flood of unqualified applicants, but they also know that a referral will tell them much more about a candidate than a resume alone. There’s no substitute for a first-hand account of a candidate’s work ethic and on-the-job performance.
To stand out from the crowd and get a foot in the door, you must grow and leverage your referral network—your professional contacts who will attest to your expertise and recommend you to others.
How can busy job seekers effectively build their referral network? Members of McKinley’s recruiting team have gathered a few simple steps to get you started:
Maintain Professional Relationships: Invite former colleagues to coffee or lunch, let them know that you’re on the job market, and send them an updated copy of your resume. Doing so will ensure that they can immediately refer you when an opportunity arises.
Become Active in Industry Associations: Participate in weekly or monthly events, and become a familiar face to other members. To demonstrate and promote your expertise, volunteer on committees and offer to help with projects that could benefit from your skill set.
Take Advantage of LinkedIn: Optimize your profile by incorporating keywords and skills relevant to positions that you are targeting. (You should research and emulate the profiles of people with similar job titles.) You can also follow potential employers and see if any of your existing contacts can connect you with decision-makers at those companies.
Partner with a Recruitment Firm: Recruitment firms have established relationships with hiring managers and can get your resume in front of the right person. Recruiters can also provide exposure to hard-to-reach company leaders and senior management.
Today’s job market is competitive, and hiring managers are overwhelmed with the volume of applications they receive. Leverage your referral network during the earliest stages of your job search for maximum results.