Who needs referrals for a job search? The short answer is, probably almost everyone. What are job search referrals? Basically, they’re leads, tips or whatever you want to call them that point you in the direction of job possibilities–not necessarily directly to such an opportunity, but heading the right way to get there.
For one thing, if you get referrals that enable you to connect with influencers in the field you’re in (or pursuing), you’re likely to leapfrog over a lot of your competition, who are still doing everything the hard way (one ad or online posting after another, for example). Even better, those leads might direct you to key individuals in companies you’d love to work for, that aren’t currently advertising any openings in your area of expertise.
Think about sales professionals for a moment. If they have to laboriously unearth each potential piece of business through trial-and-error (although sometimes it might be unavoidable), their results aren’t going to be impressive, for the most part. In other words, the size of the payback and the amount of effort involved in getting it don’t match up well at all.
Used wisely, job search referrals can smooth the path for you and serve as an informal introduction to a person you don’t know first-hand. It’s what sales people call a “warm call” as opposed to a cold one (which is uncomfortable for most of us). To carry the sales analogy a bit further, you want job search leads that will turn prospects (target companies) into customers (employers). Strictly speaking, of course, you only need ONE employer, but you’ll often be targeting more than that to begin with.
It’s not enough just to put good effort into lining up job search referrals. You need to treat those referrals–and the sources that provide them–with the proper respect and care. Four steps play an important role in this critical activity:
If you’re one of those very well-connected individuals who almost has people throwing job search referrals at you, congratulations. If you’re not, give serious thought to how you might become one! In the meantime, prospect diligently for possible referrals and treat those you get with care.
P.S. This is a subject near and dear to my heart. When I was a participant in the employment marketplace, it would have been helpful to know more about this topic than I did. Now, as a resume writer and job search/career coach, I believe in it strongly because it adds definite, measurable value to my business. I work to apply the concept of “customer care” to both my clients (referrers) and my prospective clients (referred individuals). I encourage you to do the same with regard to your job search referrals. You won’t be sorry.