Recently, I was explaining to a job seeker why networking and getting a referral is so important to the job search process. I realize networking can be a painful thing for some people; and I think it is made worse when you don’t realize all the great benefits that exist from doing it so you get a referral.
What is a referral? A referral is one person connecting another person to a third party. The easiest example is if I give you the name and phone number of a good plumber or dentist. I think we’re all familiar with that process.
Why is a referral a good thing? The biggest reason is that if I had a good experience with that plumber or dentist, there is a good, strong chance you will also have a good experience. It reduces the risk and guess work of engaging someone’s services. When you engage someone’s services without a referral you never know if that person will or can deliver, until you’ve been through the process. You see examples of these bad experiences on TV all the time.
When it comes to hiring, a referral has the same quality to it. When someone connects a potential hiring manager to someone they know who could be a candidate, the entire dynamic of the hiring process changes. The referred candidate has instant credibility. Why is that?
Think of the referral process like this. You aren’t going to refer someone who you think is shaky. If you were to do that, it would reflect poorly on you. You don’t want this person to embarrass you, because this hiring manager might have to live and work with a poor performer for a long time. They will question your judgment from that point forward.
The next benefit that occurs with referrals is attention. When a hiring team has hundreds of resumes, the one thing in short supply for a candidate is getting someone’s attention and focus. Most resumes look the same. The computer handling them is likely to do the initial work of sorting and selecting. After that, the “skim” occurs where more resumes are tossed out. Then the resume is seriously read, which can be tedious. When you and your resume are given attention, you jump over the top of that big heap. You are in the lead. It doesn’t get any better than that.
There is another, lesser known aspect to hiring a referral. Over the long haul, they are typically better performers than other hires made. The natural process of “vetting” someone means that the person doing the referring has already done all the hard work of figuring out if you are worthy. Sure, we all know people who, while charming, are not someone you would refer to anyone for anything. That isn’t you nor is it someone who would be referred to a hiring manager. Only the solid people get referred, which means they are more apt to perform.
Attention. Credibility. Performance. This is the trifecta for you as a job seeker and also the hiring manager. If there was ever a good reason to network this would be it. The most successful job seeker is the one who networks.