Kathleen contacted me because this baby boomer needed career assistance. Her husband had gotten an executive position in a new state, and they were moving halfway across the country for his opportunity. That meant that she was going to be leaving her program manager position behind as the job had was only part-time after the COVID-19 pandemic happened.
She found a Program Manager job that she was exceptionally well-qualified for at a Fortune 500 tech company. She said she wanted to apply, but marketing herself was not her strong suit. Kathleen stated she needed a professional resume writer and LinkedIn Creator to be able to demonstrate that she had the skills to do the job. We discussed the challenges and culture of trying to switch industries as she was coming from a nonprofit organization wanting to move to a tech company. One of the things I mentioned to her was it would be beneficial if Kathleen looked through her LinkedIn connections to see if she knew anybody at the targeted organization. To my surprise, she said, “Oh yes, I do know someone there. The two of us met at a conference I attended, and he was sitting next to me in one of the sessions.” My next question was, “Will he remember you?” And she said,” I don’t know, but I’ll reach out and see if he does.”
So she sent him a message and didn’t hear back. She had his phone number and then called him. After some prompting about where they met, he vaguely recalled who she was. Kathleen did ask if he was willing to pass on her resume to his employer. He said, “Sure, send it along.” That led to the resume going to the appropriate people internally. A few days later, she got a call from the internal recruiter talking to her about the job. She described this as her dream job. It took four interviews, but she did indeed land the coveted position.
As the job market heats up and gets more crowded due to all the layoffs from the pandemic, internal employee referrals are going to make even more of a difference than before. Some companies also pay their employees a fee if they refer someone who is hired and remains at least a few months.
Michael worked in the finance office for a small manufacturer that had 600 employees and his company was looking for a new sales rep. Lief found the opening and then checked his LinkedIn connections to determine if anyone he knew worked their. He had Michael as a connection. He reached out and ask Michael if he’d send his resume on to the company’s recruiter. It worked. Leif got an interview. After two interviews and passing the company’s personality test, Leif started working there two days ago.
Referrals are powerful. And today, getting a referral is a secret weapon to get through the crowd and be seen by recruiters, HR, and hiring managers. Anytime an internal employee refers someone, that person receives a solid review.Jobvite, a talent acquisition system reported that employee referrals only make up about 7% of potential candidates, but the number of those referred candidates hired is 44%. That makes this well worth the effort to try and locate a connection to someone inside the company. LinkedIn is the ideal place to search for connections and get a referral.
Here are some Dos and Don’ts to follow when you utilize this strategy.
- Make sure you are a good fit for the advertised job opening. You need to meet the requirements and have the skills the employer wants.
- Have a compelling, well-written resume to submit. It needs to be targeted and specific, outlining the accomplishments and results you have achieved on the job. (Read this Forbes article before you hit send Resume Quiz To See If Employers Will Respond To Your Resume).
- Look to find connections on your LinkedIn profile. Search under the people tab and type the company’s name in the search area. For example, “American Express.” This action will bring up any network connections you have to people working in that company.
- Advocate for yourself. Approach a stranger, pointing out a relationship you have in common, which could be that you went to the same college, or you both know Tim Brooks. Then, make the “will you pass on my resume” request.
- Make the request simple and easy. Never assume, ask first. If the connection agrees, say, “Please forward to HR, the recruiter or the hiring manager. I’m applying for XXX job,” and if there is a job#, be sure to note it.
- Say, thank you. This person did you a big favor. Be grateful.
- Don’t ask your contact to follow up or tell you what is happening. Let them end their involvement once they make the internal connection.
- It’s a mistake to ask your connection to shop your resume around. That is not their job. Most won’t know how to do that anyway.
- Don’t assume you’ll fail, or the person would say no. If you do not ask, you are only defeating yourself.
This article was originally published in Forbes.com.