Career Advice, Interviews

How To Get A Personal Referral For A Job

So you’ve figured out what you want to do and where you want to work. That’s remarkable progress. Most people get really stuck on the “figure out what you want to do” part of looking for a job.

Once you have a target in mind, a place you really want to work, the question becomes ‘How do you get in touch with the right people?’ The right people don’t work in HR or the Recruiting Department – they are the managers and executives who lead the operating departments and divisions of the company you hope to work for.

While the rest of the competition is busy searching the job boards or folding and mailing resumes to anonymous ‘To Whom It May Concerns’, what you want to become is a ‘referral’. The conventional wisdom among employers is that candidates who are referred by another employee are of a higher quality. Your goal should be to get to know several insiders well enough to have them forward your resume into the hiring process. The whole idea is to develop a personal relationship with a well placed insider who can lend some credibility to your application.

So how do you figure out who they are and how to get in touch with them?

  1. Start with the company reviews on Glassdoor. It’s a great way to do a reality check on your decision. If the company is one of the more than 74,000 covered by Glassdoor, you’ll find interesting information about the culture, the interview process and salaries.
  2. If the company you want to work for is a public company, you can find key information about their leadership on one of the major financial sites. (Google or Yahoo) For more local operations that are privately owned, the local newspaper is a useful place to start.
  3. If you haven’t registered with LinkedIn, do so. LinkedIn is fast becoming the alternative to a traditional resume. As a result, you can be virtually certain that someone from the company you hope to work for will be in the database. Use their advanced search.
  4. Once you’ve come up with a name or two, go to town on Google. Virtually every working person has some information available through Google. Find out what you can. Consider purchasing their business card online or buying their contact information through one of the search warehouses.
  5. Once you have the name and title of the person you want to reach, start calling the company. Your initial goal should be to schedule a meeting with your target. You should be prepared to listen to your target for several hours over the course of a number of meetings. Your goal is not to sell your services, but rather to try to understand their job, their opportunities and their problems.
  6. With this fundamental research in hand, prepare a plan to solve some or all of your contact’s problems.
  7. Now, after you have made yourself useful and provided real value to the person you are networking with, ask for their help.

The very essence of the job hunt is:

  • Figure out where you want to work
  • Figure out who you want to work for
  • Get their attention
  • Give them something of real value in their business
  • Ask for their help

It’s politely referred to as ’employee referrals’. In fact, it’s the hidden job market you hear so much about. It’s easy to get a job once you are a known quantity. The challenge is figuring out how to become one –  This is one way.