By Marc Poirier, General Manager of Abbey Placements LLC
I find myself repeating the same advice to job seekers over and over again: your best job leads will probably come through your network of friends and acquaintances. Yet for whatever reason, I repeatedly see job seekers neglect their personal network and only apply for jobs where they know nobody.
Maybe job seekers just don’t think about their personal network. Or maybe it’s their pride; they mistakenly want someone to hire them purely on their merit rather than because they know someone. If that’s you, let me tell you something: nobody is going to hire you for a job you don’t merit! Swallow your pride and thank someone when they help you.
Whatever their situation, job seekers should stop neglecting their friends and acquaintances and start working referrals.
Recruiters love referrals because they find their most qualified people through friends and acquaintances. In 2014, Lou Adler, author of the book “The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired,” conducted a survey with recruiting professionals on how they found and hired their best people. 92 percent of recruiting professionals said they either they knew the person or the person was referred by a co-worker or other trusted source. Interestingly, he said, “the primary decision to hire these people was on their actual ability to do the work and excel at it.”
Think about that for a minute: the referrals did not just get the job because they knew someone; they got the job because they were the best fit. Lou Adler suggests that hiring acquaintances promotes hiring decisionmaking “on factors that actually predict their fit, performance and motivation” rather than “some arbitrary list of skills and experiences.”
As a job seeker, this means you have two advantages when interviewing through a referral. The first and most obvious is that you are more likely to actually get an interview rather than have your application rejected. But the second and more important advantage is that they are looking at you as a person instead of a faceless candidate with a list of skills and experiences. If you’re hired, it’s likely that the hiring manager believes you are motivated to excel and will perform at a high level.
So how do you begin to utilize your network of friends and acquaintances? Here are two tips:
- Personally talk to the people you know best. Ask your close friends and family to notify you if they know someone personally who is hiring. They may start messaging you about every “Help Wanted” sign in town, but politely ask them to limit those notifications and focus on referring you to people they personally know. Differentiate between leads (someone they don’t know) and referrals (someone they do know). Leads are a dime a dozen; referrals are pure gold.
- Start posting your job search on social media, like Facebook or LinkedIn. Occasionally update your status when you get an interview or something new develops in your search. As you post, you may find that the companies you are targeting have friends and acquaintances working within them that you did not know about. Send those people a message and see if they can refer you to anyone. In your postings, be specific about what you want. Then let people know how things are going, and you will likely see a groundswell of support.
If someone gives you a referral, treat it with respect. Call right away, follow-up frequently, and thank everyone involved. If a friend or acquaintance respects you enough to give you a referral, respect them in return and treat the referral as something valuable. It may be the most valuable lead you have.