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This article about how to ask for a referral to get a job interview is an in-depth guide to landing a job interview with the help of a referral. So please sit down and take notes.
Looking for a job is one of those tasks that people dread, particularly when unemployed.
Job search is most often a time-consuming and anxiety-inducing process.
Most job searchers spend months applying to hundreds of jobs, without getting a single call back to attend a job interview.
What are they doing wrong?
The answer is simple – probably nothing.
If you have a basic understanding of how to write a resume and a cover letter, you are most probably doing everything right.
Why aren’t you getting any calls for a job interview then?
Because more than 50% of the six-figure job openings are filled via referrals.
You might be thinking that you don’t have any friends or family working at companies you wish to work for. That’s okay.
Not everybody who gets a job through a referral, that said referral is a close friend or family.
How to find a referral if you don’t know anyone?
Write down your ideal job.
The first step that you need to take is to create a job/company target profile.
Let’s say that you are a Marketing Executive and you are aiming to get a more senior position.
You will probably be looking for a Marketing Manager position.
A great tip is to look for all variations of the job that you wish to get.
In this case, you will want to look for a:
- Marketing Manager
- Brand Manager
- Communications Manager
- PR Manager
- Digital Marketing Manager
- Community Manager
If you don’t know where to start, simply look for one title + your area or city in Google.
For example, you want to look for Marketing Manager jobs in San Francisco.
You will most probably get Glassdoor among the first result. Check the list out and you will find all variations of the job title you are looking for.
Once this list is done, it’s time to create a company target list.
How to find companies you want to work for?
If you don’t have a clear idea yet of which companies you’d like to work for, simply go to LinkedIn and search your target job title, in this case, Marketing Manager, and select Marketing Manager in “people”.
After clicking on that, you will get a list of people currently holding that title.
You will want to refine your search and also add the location as indicated below. Type in your city or area.
After hitting enter, you will get a fresh list of people holding that title in your desired location.
While it’s a bit time consuming, I promise it’s worth it.
You will want to check several profiles and see which companies these people work for and what other companies they’ve worked for in the past.
This will give you a great idea of some companies that could potentially be your target.
Once you have selected a few companies that you want to focus your job search on, it’s time to check their website and job openings on LinkedIn.
Let’s say you want to work for YouTube. Check out their LinkedIn corporate page and on the left side, you’ll see the jobs button.
Click on it and either fill in the keywords in the section above the jobs or see all jobs at the bottom of the page and see the full list of jobs, where you’ll be able to filter your search based on the date posted, experience level, etc.
After this search is done, check out their career section as well on their corporate website and write down all jobs that interest you, including their reference number, if any.
After doing all of this, you now know the types of jobs you are looking for and your target companies.
The next exercise is to create a list of potential titles that your target job will be reporting to.
For example, if you are looking for a Marketing Manager position, you will most probably be reporting to any of the following:
- Director of Marketing
- VP of Marketing
- Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
- CEO (in some cases)
- Managing Director (in some cases)
Now that you have a better picture, it’s time to find your referral or the person who will facilitate you getting a job interview at that company.
Go back to LinkedIn’s corporate page of the company. We’ll take YouTube again as an example.
On the right side click on “See all employees”.
Filter your search based on
Select current company (you want someone who is currently working there)
Type title (the senior titles mentioned above, such as Director of Marketing)
Once you identified your target person and potential referral, don’t be shy to send them an invitation to connect.
How to approach a potential referral on LinkedIn
In order to increase your chances of that person accepting your request, you will want to customize your invitation.
A good example of a LinkedIn invitation to request in this case is:
I see that you are the Director of Marketing with ABC Company and would like to connect, as I am currently interested in the Marketing Manager opening with ABC and was hoping I could ask you a few questions about the company and the role as you are an expert in this field.
I appreciate any help from your side.
Usually, when stating exactly what your intentions are, not many people decline your request.
It’s a tactic that has proven to work, especially on LinkedIn, where people are supposed to network and help each other.
Why this method of approaching referrals works?
It works because you are honest about your intentions to connect and you compliment your potential referral by emphasizing on their experience and knowledge.
Besides, it is statistically known that people are more than willing to help, especially when it doesn’t require a lot of effort.
After the person accepts your request, you can follow up by sending a message to that person, saying:
Thank you for accepting my invitation to connect and I hope you don’t mind me reaching out here.
As mentioned before, I am interested in the Marketing Manager position with ABC (+ reference number if any) and I was wondering if you’d have a few minutes for a chat, as I would like to find out more about this opportunity and ask a few questions, as well as hearing any advice or tips you might have, given your knowledge and experience in this industry.
I know that your time is extremely valuable, so please let me know if you could spare 5 minutes for a quick call or I can send you an email if you prefer.
I would appreciate your help.
Similar to the invitation to connect, this message is very transparent and shows professionalism and respect in dealing with other people, particularly when requesting them a favor.
This approach works because you acknowledge their expertise and you are open to receiving advice which, let’s be honest, most people like to give.
Besides, you are asking for expert advice, therefore the chances of being redirected to HR are very slim.
On top of this, Josh will most probably be the person you will be reporting to, therefore Josh also wants to make sure that he brings the right people into his team.
When Josh accepts your request and states that he is willing to have a quick call you need to be prepared with a set of questions.
Some good questions to ask are:
- What made you want to work for ABC Company?
- What is it that you love about working at ABC Company?
- What is the company culture like?
- What does someone in the Marketing Manager position needs to have in order to succeed?
- What are some of the biggest challenges your department is facing?
- What are some of the biggest challenges the role of Marketing Manager is facing or has faced in the past?
If the person prefers to answer your questions via email, this is how you should phrase it before asking the questions:
Thank you again for your willingness to answer my questions. I understand how busy you are and that is why I really appreciate you taking the time to do this. You don’t need to answer in-depth. Any input that you might have, will be greatly valued.
Here are my questions:
- Question 1
- Question 2
- Question 3
- Question 4
- Question 5
Thank you again and I look forward to your response.
Pro tip: limit the number of questions to a maximum 5 and don’t skip the questions about challenges.
Why is it important to ask your referral about challenges?
Because this is your opportunity to position yourself as a great candidate by offering solutions to their challenges, therefore bringing value to the team.
How will you do that?
You will do your homework and find out what past experience and current skills are valuable for sorting out their challenges.
Maybe you’ve faced similar challenges in the past and you were able to overcome them.
After finding this out, you will reply to Josh’s email by stating the following:
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.
Your insight into the challenges that your department is currently facing, made me think of how I can help to overcome those challenges.
In my previous position as a Marketing Executive, one of the challenges that I faced was…. and the way I dealt with this challenge was to… which lead to…result.
This made me realize that my experience, particularly with these types of challenges, would bring value to your team and I would like to pursue this opportunity, as it seems a great fit.
Kindly let me know if you would be able to refer me to the hiring committee or to the person handling the recruitment for this role.
I’m attaching here my resume for more details about my professional experience.
Hoping I will be able to discuss this opportunity further, I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you again for your time and effort.
Why this referral email works?
This referral request email works because you put the effort to find out more about the opportunity.
It shows genuine interest in finding out if this opportunity suits you and you are not just applying for a better salary or other reasons for which you shouldn’t pursue an opportunity.
You are stating exactly why you are right for this role and positioning yourself above other candidates who apply via cold emails, by knowing inside information.
Once your referral submits your resume to the right person and you are invited for a job interview the only thing left is to prepare for the job interview.
Below is a resume template that you can purchase in order to create a modern-looking resume that will surely land you a job interview. It includes 1, 2 and 3 pages templates, along with a cover letter template.
Besides it is fully customizable in terms of colors, fonts, and sizes and has detailed instructions on how to write your resume. It is ATS compliant and written by a professional resume writer.
With your purchase, you will also get a 50+ page “Guide to Landing the Job” bonus.
Click on the image below to check it out.
Here are some articles that will help you prepare for your next job interview:
- Top 10 recession-proof jobs
- Tell me about yourself – how to answer
- Common phone interview questions and how to answer them
- Situational job interview questions and answers
- Things to never do in a job interview
- How to stay calm in a job interview
- List of weaknesses for job interviews with examples
- Questions to ask an interviewer
- Tips to ace your next job interview
- Why should we hire you – how to answer
- What are your salary expectations – how to answer
- Sell me this pen – how to answer
- Thank you email after a job interview
- Top traits employers look for in a candidate
- How to organize your job search to increase productivity
- People you need to follow on LinkedIn if you are looking for a job
- Where to look for a job when you don’t know where to start
- The best paying jobs that you can do from home