The Power of referrals in this changing job market….


in Careers, Coaching, HR, Mentoring, Recruitment

Photo by John Barkiple on Unsplash

In this last week alone, I have worked with two clients sharing the experiences of the current job market being the most challenging they have seen in their careers.  This got me thinking about what can be done differently when the usual stuff just isn’t working.  There are lots of different channels to engage in your job search, but referrals isn’t one that is often at the top of the list.

First of all…… what is a referral?

It’s when a recommendation is provided by an individual, typically someone within their professional network or company. This supports your application for a specific job or introduces you to the company if they haven’t a current opening.  Referrals can happen through various channels; personal connections, professional networks, employee referral programme (that’s inside the company) or dedicated digital job referral platforms. The end game is really to enchance the chances of being front of mind in the recruitment team, add application credibility & possibly fast track you through the hiring process.

Job referrals often carry significant weight in the recruitment process. They provide valuable insights & assurance about a candidate’s abilities way beyond what might be gleaned from a CV or traditional application. Let’s also not forget as a means of introduction this can cost far less than the “agency intro” so win win for the company hiring.

So, there’s more than one way to be referred into a role or company?

Yes, through third party platforms like Refer Me, Prefer Market, Invite Referrals, Referrable & Exponent which have entered the job market place, promising greater accessibility & streamlined processes for companies. Digitalising this process offers up job seekers & hirers alike yet another option to make use of. The merit of this is great, however what I am seeing is that they offer candidate’s limited active & current conversions to actual interviews & offers. What I am yet to hear is from companies saying resources have saved better than their employee led programmes because of them.

Or inside the company itself, through what is called an Employee Referrable programme, where its employees will be rewarded (often financially once you are in the business & have passed your probationary period).  These offer a more personalised route, calling upon those employees to act as amdassadors that know first hand & can vouch for individuals they are recommending. Its this personal touch that is where the gold dust can be found, because their reputation is on the line with them only likely to recommend someone they trust & believes aligns with the organization’s values, culture & skills needs. Its great to remember this when you are making connections to know that there is potential risk for that person.

The breadth of the digital platforms is more vast, less human but argably reduces bias, challenging the echo chamber of employee programmes who can fall fowl of recruiting only in their likeness with a far narrower candidate pool.

Striking a balance……

Between the expansive reach of job referral platforms & the personal touch of employee referral schemes is tricky.  For candidates through, you can amplify your search by exploring both & seeing what reaps results for you. How about:

  • Pick one of the above digital platforms ( for example Refer Me )
  • Give yourself a realistic timeline – 1 – 2 weeks
  • Measure its success alongside what you do through employee connections
  • Review your employee contacts (email & LinkedIn) is a great place to start (pick 10 names)
  • Ask them the best way they can refer you 

All of this is yet another way to build up your own unique career toolkit, being proactive in these tougher times on a path less travelled that could just make the difference in bringing you the introductions you want.