Looking for work can feel like a full-time job, and a frustrating one at that. It’s exhausting to send out resume after resume without getting much of a response.
It’s not just you. The fact is, it can be really hard to land an interview. The percentage of applications that lead to interviews is as low as 2 percent, according to some estimates. Those are some pretty bleak odds. But, there is a way to change your personal application-to-interview ratio: referrals.
While referrals only make up about 6 percent of job applications, they account for between 30 to 50 percent of new hires. Being referred for a job significantly increases your chances of landing an interview and getting your foot in the door. So, if you’re on the job hunt, it’s smart to direct some of your time and energies into getting those referrals. Here are some tips for doing just that.
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1. Get out of the shadows.
Looking for work can be an isolating process. But, it’s not good to job hunt in a vacuum. If you’re hoping to get a job referral, you’re going to have to be more public with your search. So, start talking about what you’re doing. Let your friends, family and maybe even your professional network know that you’re looking for a new job.
Be careful though — weigh the cost and benefits of letting your current employer find out that you’re looking. This could hurt you, depending on your relationship. So, tread lightly.
2. Hone in on specifics.
The more targeted and specific you are about what you’re looking for, the easier it will be to get a referral. Work on understanding exactly what kind of job you want. Then, do some homework and investigate organizations that do that work in your geographic area.
Once that’s done, you can use social media to find out whether or not you have any existing contacts within these organizations. The more specific you are about what you want, the easier it will be to find the right opportunities.
3. Reach out.
Once you’ve identified the companies you’d like to target, and who’s already working there, it’s time to reach out. You want to do this in a way that feels authentic and comfortable for everyone. So, be easy and relaxed yourself. Keep in mind that the person you approach (either in person or online) probably doesn’t have much time, so be considerate. Be clear and to the point while still being polite. Explain your interest in the organization, as well as your qualifications.
Once you’re engaging in a dialogue, reach out and ask for some help. Do they have any advice? Would they mind looking over your cover letter? Again, be very polite and careful not to pester. Sometimes, these kinds of exchanges result in a referral and other times you might just get some good career advice. Either way, it’s not a waste of your time.
4. Be direct and ask.
In some situations, you may feel comfortable asking someone directly to give you a referral. Ask in writing, rather than over the phone or in person. This gives the person you’re approaching the chance to consider their response. You can send an email, a letter, or a message through a professional networking site. Simply ask whether or not they’d feel comfortable referring you for a job at their company. You can also offer to provide any information they might want, like an updated resume or other background information. If they do offer to help, don’t forget to send a thank-you note.
5. Don’t forget about employee referral programs.
Keep in mind that some companies have employee referral programs. Employees have the opportunity to bring home some extra money if they can connect their organization to the right candidate. If you’re a good fit for a position, referring you is really a win-win for everyone involved. So, hold your head high and don’t be afraid to connect.
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