Get past the resume screen with an advantage by using your network.
Networking is priceless for many reasons you might not have thought about. While it's not impossible to get by without a large network, it would make your career life much easier.
Having an extensive network will often mean you hear of opportunities before others, can learn more about various companies, teams, and roles outside of a job description, and get referrals that are more likely to push you forward in the hiring process.
What Are Referrals?
If you apply for a job with a referral, you are much more likely to get the attention of a recruiter and get past the application and resume screen. It makes sense — if someone who is trusted at the company trusts you to do a good job, it makes you more appealing as a candidate.
Types of Referrals
Many companies will have different two types of referrals: personal and professional. Most likely, neither provide an advantage over the other, and it is just a formality. The forms for these are usually exactly the same.
- Social referrals are given when the referrer never worked with the job seeker but knows them personally.
- Professional referrals are given to past coworkers or project-mates.
Asking for Referrals
Your chances of getting a referral will be much higher if you ask someone within your more immediate network who you talk to with some regularity or are on great terms with. However, you shouldn't be afraid to contact someone on LinkedIn who works at your desired company or an old friend from school you haven't talked to in a while to ask for a referral.
Although seeking out people you haven't talked to in a long time or a stranger on LinkedIn is perfectly fine, it needs to be done with tact and genuine interest in the person beyond what they can offer you. At the same time, you should be straightforward about your request when it comes time to ask.
Your chances of getting referrals through recruiters are slim if you ask bluntly. Therefore, you should incorporate a personalized message to greatly increase your chances of a positive response. You can begin this process by actively seeking out recruiters through platforms such as LinkedIn.
When reaching out to a recruiter, you should briefly highlight your interest in the position and your competency. You can do this by including any or all of the following:
- Relevant work experience and positions
- What you're looking for and how that relates to the company/role
- A call to action in the form of asking for their time to chat
This information can be shared in a single message if done succinctly, or over time through organic conversation. Treat the recruiter like a real person with limited time, and tailor your messages accordingly for the highest chance of success.
Asking Friends and Immediate Network
Your immediate network and current friends will be your highest chance at a quality referral. With your immediate network, you should utilize your skillset and any relevant work experience to show your competency.
However, outside of your friend circle, your professional contacts will rarely reach out to you themselves. Proactively reaching out to your immediate network yields the greatest results. When contacting friends/colleagues, you can show your interest in receiving a referral by following any or all of the suggested:
- A brief introduction
- Highlighting skills and relevant work experience
- Creating a call to action via a chat
This information can be concisely shared via a single message or dispersed throughout natural conversation. Treat your network professionally. By doing so, you create rapport and build a relationship, increasing the chance of a referral.
Asking Old Friends, Classmates, or Coworkers
If you've demonstrated your skills in the past, your chances of getting a referral from an old friend or classmate increases significantly. Old contacts will not reach out to help you generally. Actively reaching out to previous contacts yield a greater return. When getting in touch with old contacts, you can highlight your interest in receiving a referral. You can do this by following any or all of the following:
- A brief icebreaker
- How your skills can bring value to their company
- A call to action in the form of further conversation.
This information can be shared in a single message or spread through organic conversation. Treat your contacts professionally. In doing so, you build rapport and substantially increase the chance of receiving a referral.
There is a very low chance of a random stranger referring you to their workplace out of nowhere. Hence, you should treat a stranger as if they were a co-worker. You can offer to assist them with projects, highlighting your skills in the process. Strangers won't reach out to you for help in most cases.
Being proactive and reaching out to strangers offer a greater chance of success.
When reaching out to strangers, you can briefly highlight your interest and competency. You can do this by including any or all of the following:
- Relevant skills or prior work experience
- How your skills can benefit their project
- A call to action in the form of a chat
This information can be shared in a single concise message or through organic conversation. Treat the stranger professionally and attempt to contribute wherever possible. In doing so, you provide credible evidence of your skills to the stranger leading to future referral.