The importance of referrals can’t be understated. I see evidence of it all the time. A colleague forwards along a resume, that person bypasses the resume review and goes straight to the hiring manager’s desk. This usually results in an interview with me (the recruiter) and/or directly with the hiring manager. While this doesn’t always lead to them getting the job, it does at least get them in the door. And more times than not, the person referring has worked with the candidate or knows someone that has. It’s not just a friend or family member they’re trying to “hook up.” It’s someone they can vouch for. This is what’s happening across industries.
It’s not just who you know. It’s how well they know you, and how much they respect your work.
You have to consider how your actions and attitude today can impact your future. Your co-workers — love ‘em or hate ‘me — could determine whether or not you’re considered for a future opportunity (this applies outside of traditional day jobs too). They will eventually leave your current company (their current situation) and go somewhere else. And you have to assume that where they land might be a place you wanna work. So basically, every colleague can become a future referrer. Also, if the new company uses LinkedIn’s recruiting feature and you apply for a job there, their recruiter may check out your profile and see you’ve worked with that person in the past. Then in comes the informal reference.
So how can you best take advantage of this?
Connect with colleagues on LinkedIn and keep in touch.
By doing this, you can mutually keep up on what’s happening professionally. When they’re promoted or move to a new company, you can congratulate them on the accomplishment and periodically check in to see how things are going. That’s how networking works. What you don’t wanna do is see they went to your “dream” company and immediately forward your resume and ask them to pass it along. Particularly if you weren’t close to them. That can be a little awkward.
If they did land somewhere you’d like to go, give them time to get settled into their role and build some credibility. Congratulate them and say something like “Congrats on the new gig. You picked a great company. I’ve been wondering how to get in there for a while!” At this point, see how they respond. They may say forward your resume. They may say thanks and keep it moving, but let that choice reside with them. Don’t just send your sh*t unannounced. (This is obviously a pain point for me. I’m working on it.)
Should a position come up that you wanna apply for, it’s fair game to reach out and say “Hey, I know you’ve only been at x for x months, but I saw the x role and wondered if you knew anything about it? It looks like a great match. Do you know who I should reach out to and do you mind if I mention your name?” If you have their email, go that route. If only their LinkedIn, send the message there. If you had a good working relationship with this person, they will usually offer to forward along your resume. If not, you can go out on a limb and ask them to forward your resume to the hiring team. The better your previous relationship, the more likely you are to get a favorable response.
Of course if you’ve managed your relationships well, this should be a piece of cake. If not, no worries. Give a try to the steps above and see how it goes. And most importantly…
Don’t be shortsighted. What you want in the future starts today.