A Personal Referral is King in Today’s Job Market

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You’ve heard this before: the best jobs are never posted publicly. You may have a perfect resume and masterful interviewing skills, but they may never see the light of day when applying for that really primo job—the one with the big salary and cushy perks. 


The reason is simple: HR managers,  recruiters and department managers are being swamped with resumes. A+ college grads, Ivy league MBAs, and talented young “comers” are flooding the job market. Resumes just keep stacking up on HR managers desks with dwindling staffs to wade through them. 


So what do HR managers  do when they get a personal referral?  It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. The promise of going home at 6 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. The candidate is called in. The resume passes muster with most of the job keywords. The interview goes well and, presto, the person is hired. And why not?  He or she is a “sure thing,” a personal referral with a qualified stamp of approval. Which means, your carefully crafted resume is slid into the round file or stuffed into a “ghost” file never to be seen again.


So what can you do?  What should you do? Simple. Be the referred candidate. I know, easier said that done. But who said finding a job these days would be easy? Some suggestions to help you become the referred candidate:

Learn to “connect” with key players. Be the “go-to” person at work.  Be a problem solver, a resource who others want to collaborate with. Go out of your way to help co-workers and managers. Stay late. Work hard. Have people of power and influence be indebted to you. Invest in relationships. Be a giver, not a taker. It may not be to your advantage in the short run, but people will remember you. And when that plum job opens up, you’ll be on the very short list. 


Network like mad. Make connections at lunch, at meetings, and during after-work functions. Attend company sponsored events (charitable or otherwise). Go to seminars and conventions. Build a file of people and email or call them once in a while (don’t overdo this).  Build a resource file of people you may need—web designers, AV experts, IT pros and such. Se what they’ve done, what they charge and how fast they work. These people see a lot of managers and VPs and they can be a conduit to connections and friendships. 


ABS (Always Be Selling). There’s a fine line you have to walk between bragging and letting people know what you can do for them. Mention your expertise or successes to managers and other upper level people you meet. Talk about how it helped the company, the troops in the office or in the field. Don’t self aggrandize, but sell yourself as a member of a team that “made it happen.”
Want the job? Do your prep work and be the personally referred candidate. It’s hard work, but what isn’t these days?



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