Networking for Job Referral Opportunities

Since employee referrals count for nearly 40% of new hires this year, what can you do to become a referred candidate?

If 40% of new hires come from referrals by existing employees (as Jobvite’s research indicates), why aren’t job seekers focusing on getting referred? The answer is that getting referred works only when you know (and are known by) an employee who will refer you! This will require you to have established relationships…lots of them.

A relationship is like the foundation of a building – you can build nothing on top of it until the foundation is firmly established.

The larger your network of strong relationships, the greater your opportunities to get referred will become!

Here are eight steps for successful networking for referral opportunities (some steps may be skipped):

1. Indentify the employers for whom you’d like to work. If you don’t have specific employers in mind, look at best employer lists from Forbes, Fortune, Glassdoor, industry association websites, or Google best employers in {City}.”

2. Identify which employers have an employee referral program. Try contacting the employer’s HR department or receptionist by telephone or email, and asking whether or not it has an employee referral program.

3. Determine who you know who works there. This could include people known by the people you know (i.e., second level connections). LinkedIn is the perfect platform for this, using the Advanced Search function.

4. Invite the person to become first level connections with you. Make sure to use a personalized invitation stating why a connection might be of interest to them, rather than sending the default invitation message.

5. Begin building a relationship with that person. Do this the way you would with anyone – reach out to them by email, InMail, or phone and ask them a question or two in areas of mutual interest. Join the LinkedIn groups they belong to. Contribute to the discussions in which they participate. But don’t send them a resume…yet. You need to build your relationship first.

6. Once your relationship is solidly established, request an informational meeting to learn more about their company and the work there. Meet in person, on the phone, or virtual meeting.

7. Make sure to thank them for meeting with you. Keep in touch!

8. As you get to know one another they may ask you about career plans, which is the perfect time to introduce the possibility of them sending your resume to their HR as part of the employer’s referral program. Again, thank them and keep in touch.

Bottom line: This strategy is not designed to product instant results, but results after you’ve cultivated the relationship. People are more likely to grant you an informational meeting and refer you to their employer when – and only when – they are confident that you will reflect positively on them.

This article is excerpted from the Job Search Readiness Assessment℠ Development Guide, which explains over 2,100 job and career search best practices.

Boyer Management Group works with organizations that want to get the best out of their people, and with senior managers who want to improve their effectiveness. For job seekers and career services professionals, we offer unique and inexpensive tools to help connect people to job. For employers, we offer world-class talent acquisition and onboarding tools, assessments, and sales/sales management development. To find out more, please visit us at, email us at, or call us at 215-942-0982.


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