Getting referred into a company to get hired for a job seems like the holy grail of job searching. Everyone wants individuals in their network to introduce them to hiring managers to eventually lead to getting hired. Getting hired this way is so much more human and fun than applying through an inanimate job board, eh?
Fortunately, it can be done and it’s easier than you think. Here is a proven process that has worked for numerous job seekers at many levels, including myself!
(1) Make a list of companies where you want to work. It’s important to start with an end in mind of where you want to land. Having a list will help you speak in specifics as you network, since stating having undefined parameters of what you want won’t help your job search.
(2) Research if the company has an employee referral bonus program. This information helps with how to strategically approach the company. Clearly, if a company has a referral bonus program for referring hires, this could be helpful to you. But the lack of such a program shouldn’t discourage you from applying. It’s just information to leverage.
(3) Look the company up on LinkedIn to see who you know that may work there. (Look for 2nd degree connections, as well.)
(4) Determine if there are any open jobs that you are qualified for and interested in. Using this information as a leverage point could be helpful in your strategic approach. But like the absence of a referral program, don’t let the absence of a relevant, posted open job deter you from approaching a company.
(5) Once you have completed your research, identify someone whom you know or have a mutual connection with on LinkedIn to approach to ask for an exploratory conversation. Don’t be afraid to approach someone cold, as well, if they are a third degree connection or a fellow LinkedIn group member. Ideally choose someone that could be in the area where you want to work. However, if you have a personal contact in another area, use the best contact you have for this initial attempt of entry.
(6) Ask for a 10-15 minute exploratory conversation. You can use a note formula that factors in research from their LinkedIn Profile (be sure to read it) and company research you did to make this connection. Here is an example:
I am reaching out in the spirit of networking as we have mutual connections on LinkedIn (or whatever is the reason in their background or connection thread that motivated you to reach out to them). Would you be open to a 10-15 minute conversation as to how you came to join ___ as I am doing my research in applying for a ___role there. I am also flexible to doing this “chat” through email if that is the best way for you to connect.
If so, please let me know how you would prefer to have this conversion so it’s the least burdensome to you. Present me several time options that are most convenient for you or let me know that I can email you my questions seeking your insight. I’m grateful for your consideration.”
You could always be more specific with this request based on mutual connections had, knowledge of work they performed, articles you have read about or written by the person you are contacting, etc. Be creative and personal here when possible.
Generally speaking, this formula can be used to craft your e-notes requesting a chat or referral.
—Read Their Profile
—Say how you came to find them
—Leverage something about them in your note
—Ask for 10-15 minute chat & make it easy to schedule
(7) Nurture then ask if they would refer you into the organization. Based on how you may know or come to know this person, explore how they came to the company and, when appropriate, then ask for a referral to be considered for roles in your area. Don’t assume a referral will happen. Earn it through curiosity and genuine interest.
As you can see, you can get that referral into a company when you take the right steps to do so. These tips should help.