Fresh out of university, I knew that the best way to land a job was to have someone in the company refer you. In fact, according to research by the recruiting platform Jobvite: Employee referrals have the highest applicant-to-hire conversion rate – while only 7% of job applicants are referrals, they account for 40% of all hires.
But the big question was: How? I knew people working at powerhouses such as Google, Dropbox and Facebook, but asking someone for a favour (and to vouch for you), especially acquaintances, is a big ask.
After a few years on the other side of the table, I now realize that referring someone isn’t actually that big an ask. Most employees feel good about helping someone and their company. In fact, a lot of companies actively encourage it, with some even paying 5-figure referral bonuses for successful hires.
Now that we’ve got the awkwardness out of the way, how exactly do you get started?
1. Check LinkedIn
First degree connections or university alumni will be your best bet. Seniority is not necessarily what you need; instead, look for people who work in the department you’re applying to and perform a similar function.
2. Reach out to schedule a call or in-person chat
Be upfront about your intention to apply for a position at the company and schedule the call or meeting around their availability. After all, they’re the ones taking time to help you out.
A personalized email or message would get you on the right track.
How’ve you been? Are you still training weekly for the annual Berlin marathon?
I saw that Google is hiring an Account Manager and I’m considering applying for it. I’d love to learn more about the role and what working at Google is like. Would you be available for a quick 20 minute call next Monday? Your insights and help would be much appreciated.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
3. Go for the “Ask”
He/She has carved out time to have a chat with you, make the most of this opportunity to ask them for a referral. You have nothing to lose.
4. Follow up
People are busy, even after they’ve agreed to refer you, follow up with them until a recruiter reaches out to you.
First follow up after call/meeting (with CV)
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today and for the opportunity to learn more about the Account Manager role at Google.
As discussed, it would be highly appreciated if you could forward my CV (attached) to your recruiter.
Second follow up:
I trust you’ve been well since we last spoke.
Would you happen to know if the Account Manager position has been filled? I haven’t heard from anyone at Google yet and I suspect these things take some time. But if you have any information on whether the position is still open, could you let me know?
Thank you and have a good day!
5. Thank them and pay it forward
Fast forward: You’ve made it through the recruiting process, don’t forget to thank your initial referrer, even if you don’t get the job.
Now it’s your turn, pay it forward.