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Tap an employee, land a job - How to get that job using an employee referral

Posted: 27 April 2016

The joys and wonders of referrals are well known and celebrated. They drum up quality hires, most of which are more likely to move through the hiring process faster and even stay longer at their new company. And it works swimmingly for the candidates themselves as referrals are twice as likely to nab an interview. So yeah, referrals are definitely the way forward. With employees now being genuinely engaged and involved in their company's referral programs, it was only a matter of time until candidates started to create a strategy around how to get their mitts on an employee referral.

If you’re actively searching for your next opportunity you really should be figuring out how to make those employee connections and request that referral. These systems don’t need to be a one-way street, in fact employees now expect job searchers to approach them and make that connection. But go about it carefully. Here’s a few pointers for how to get yourself referral-ready, and how to make that potentially career-boosting connection.

  • Give your profiles some TLC.

Before you start reaching out to employees, make sure they can find you. Make the rounds on LinkedIn and even Facebook, being sure that your job status is accurate and that your area of expertise is up there for the world to see. LinkedIn tends to be every professional's first port of call so make sure your account is up to scratch and active. How is your personal brand? Would you hire you? Are you involved in any LinkedIn groups or do you share valuable, relevant content? This is your referral case, make it a strong one.

  • Connection bootcamp.

You’ll be surprised how many connections you have that could get you closer to that referral. Go through your LinkedIn and gather together the contacts and connections that can help your cause. Don’t make contact just yet, unless they are a first-level connection. This is about gathering resources and seeing where potential sparks are. Remember to take this search offline and out of LinkedIn too. Reach out to past work colleagues, pals, volunteer associated, anyone that has professional ties.

  • Research employer ERPs.

It always helps to zone in and focus on a few big employers. As well as being kept updated on what jobs are posted, it’s handy to have a gander at what type of employee referral program they run, if any. Chances are they will have an active one so see what info you can find on it, try their career site. While you’re there, raid the bios and make lists of the folk in your role department. These are the folks you need to connect with. Research these guys on LinkedIn and see if you share any connections.

  • Stagger your referral requests.

If you have a great quality first-level connection, get right in there with a request for some more info about the job and pop in that you’re potentially after a referral. If you have a good connection with this person they will know your professional value and won’t see this request as a taking liberties. However if your connection isn’t super close, go for the long game. Make that first contact and be frank, mention that you have a shared connection and that you’re interested in a position with their company. Why not ask what it’s like to work there and how long they’ve been there? Avoid slipping in a referral request straight away but see this as quality research time so ask relevant Qs. Also, don’t be tempted to go referral crazy. Stagger your referral requests, you don’t want your prospective referral-ees to get wind of your mass requesting from a connection of theirs. It could cheapen your efforts.

  • Aim for the informational interview.

Ideally, this should be your big aim. Trust is built in those face-to-face moments and the best referrals come from a trusted connection. Ask for some time from employees, whether it’s for a quick coffee or even a call. It doesn’t need to be a big formal affair, anything that can get you on their personal radar. In fact, you should ‘Nail the art of asking’.

Nabbing a referral might take a more intricate strategy and a lot of legwork but it’s a quality lead you can’t afford to miss out on. Remember the impression you make on your referral request journey lasts past your job hunt. After all, this employee could end up being a co worker so make sure you present yourself mindfully. Referrals are quality engagements so commit that time and effort and it will pay off big style.

Do you like this stuff? Then join over 21,000 other awesome people who get tips on improving their employer brand, recruitment, marketing and the odd spot of career advice delivered directly to their inbox from me! @markbevans