Career Advice

How To Get Your Foot In The Door

Do you know how companies find people that they hire? If you said, job boards, a company’s career site and career fairs, you would be correct. However, a better question to ask might be, what are the most popular ways companies find hires? A recent survey from CareerXRoads details the top methods and guess what was number one? Employee referrals!


The No. 1 stat alone justifies the adage, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” Such being the case, when you are networking for new opportunities, be as strategic as possible. Instead of throwing your resume against the proverbial wall and hoping it sticks, do some research and create a list of companies that you would love to work for. If you are focused on a certain industry, then finding similar companies is relatively easy. Google has a “related search” command that lets you find companies that are similar to a company you are focused on. For example, if I wanted to see what companies were similar to the telecom company Sprint, I would do a related search command (as shown below) and take note of the companies in the search results. In this case: AT&T, MetroPCS, Verizon Wireless and others.


Once you have your company list together, check your network to see who you know who works there. You can quickly and easily accomplish this in a couple of ways: 1) Import your email address book to LinkedIn then, search LinkedIn to see who is where;  2) use Facebook’s Friend Browser and do an employer search; 3) use Glassdoor’s Inside Connections to leverage your Facebook network to find an ‘in’ at specific companies you’d like to work. You will find people who presently or formerly worked for whatever company you are focused on.


Now that you have a list of companies and (hopefully) a list of people in your network who work there, I suggest that you do not contact them yet. Instead, do more research and see what their employer offers in terms of employee referrals. More often than not, there is a cash incentive for employee referrals. For example, depending on the position, Apple employee referral bonus is between $500.00 and $3,000.00. In some cases, they have been rumored to pay more.

At this point, you are ready to engage your contact with a short email that spells out your aim and incentivizes them to work towards your goal. Here is a sample email that does just that:


(A) Long time since Disney! I hope you and your family are well.

(B) Can I offer you some free money? How does $500 sound? Your company offers $500 for referring new employees. (C) As luck would have it, I’m a perfect fit for the Human Resources generalist your company is advertising on its career page. I have 10 years of experience in HR, 4+ years experience with benefits and compensation and I have created multiple employee handbooks throughout my career.

(D) Why not do us both a favor and refer me over to whomever is recruiting for this role? If I get hired, great! If not, you have lost nothing and gained a favor from me. (Smile)  (E) Below is a quick note to make it easy all around.

Let me know your thoughts.

John Doe


Please consider my referral for the HR Generalist role.

John Doe, HR Generalist

# 10 Years HR experience

# 4+ Years Benefit and Compensation Analyst

# Well-versed in creating Employee Handbooks

If you like what you see, I can formally introduce you.

Thanks for your consideration.


I think the email is pretty self-explanatory, but to be on the safe side, I will explain each part. I have them marked by letters. (A) Quick reminder of how we are connected and/or know each other, (B) I mention money to get their attention, (C) I pitch my experience, listing 3 compelling reasons why I should be considered for the job, (D) I make one more plea for assistance. (E) I add a short email to intrigue the recruiter and convince them to connect with me. My connection has to do nothing but forward that note to a recruiter and should all go well, they are $500 richer.

Make sense?

In the event that you do not have any connections into a company, I would suggest first seeking out friends who have friends inside of the company you have an interest in. If you have the new Facebook Graph Search activated on your Facebook profile, you can do a search similar to this one: My friends of friends who work at Google.


If I discover that I have friends of friends working at a company I am targeting, I would ask for an introduction and hopefully leverage that into an employee referral opportunity.

I know this strategy works due to the experiences of a friend of mine. But, I am more curious as to how well this works for you. If you would, please leave me a comment and tell me what you think?

Happy hunting!