Marketability TV: Why Referrals Matter And How to Get One

A referral is your key into your target organization. It’s a recognition of your character, work ethic, and expertise. It can fast-track you to a face-to-face interview with the Hiring Manager. Moreover, you are five times more likely to get hired if you have one.

What’s a referral? It’s a verbal or written support of your candidacy by a current or former employee of the organization you’re applying to.

Have you ever gone to a specific restaurant, stayed at a particular hotel, or traveled to a location because one of your friends recommended it? I’m sure you have, because these recommendation gave you confidence in the place you were going. The same goes for referrals. When you get a referral, you gain credibility, which in turn builds trust and accelerates your application. Think of your potential employer as a buyer. They’re on the market to find talent, and you’re selling it. Referrals are what will give them confidence that you’re the right candidate.

How do you get one? The key to making others feel comfortable referring you is to develop a great reputation. Here are two ways you can do this:

1. Put together a hit-list of your mentors, former employers, and colleagues who you trust. Then, reach out to them and ask for a recommendation or endorsement of your skills on LinkedIn. As a recruiter, I can tell you that your recommendation section is one of the first places I look for because there’s no better way to get to know your potential than by reading a review of your past performance.

2. Think about three people who you would like to ask for a reference. These are people who can vouch for your character, work ethic, and performance. If they aren’t in your target organization, ask if they know anyone who is. Then, set up an informational interview with this person to get intel on what it’s like to work there. You can also use this opportunity to build a relationship and snag a great referral.

Want to learn more? Check out this week’s episode of Marketability TV! Let me know what you think in the comments section!

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