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Give Your Resume a Leg Up with a Job Referral


Are you struggling to get your resume noticed by hiring managers? You are not alone. In today’s competitive job market, getting on the radar of the top hiring managers takes more than just a well-written resume. It helps tremendously to get a referral from a trusted source, which can open many more doors to career success.

As part of a smart job search strategy, connecting with people in your job market can enhance your ability to get a referral to a new assignment. From social networks to community contacts, the more you put yourself out there, the better you are at hearing about career opportunities. But it’s not just the networking you need – it’s getting closer to the networks of the people you network with that counts.

Why referrals are critical to your job search success

Do You Know What You're Worth?

The Wall Street Journal reports that less than 20 percent of all jobs are ever advertised online. This means the vast majority of jobs are available to those who take the time to develop referral networks – offline. A referral does several things for you, as a job seeker:

  • Can give you a stamp of approval from a contact that the recruiter trusts.
  • Gives your resume a leg up because it validates your suitability for the job.
  • Acts as an endorsement of your expertise and ability to do the job well.
  • Saves the hiring manager from having to ask you for multiple references.  

How do you get job referrals from your networks?

There are several ways to start getting referrals from the people you associate with, both online and offline. Remember, that the point is to help you learn of new opportunities and get introduced to hiring managers.

Participate in community career resources

In most regions, there are likely to be a wide variety of career support resources such as job support groups, career fairs, and workforce development agencies. Take advantage of these tools as there will be recruiters and company HR folks buzzing around looking for great candidates like you.

Register with several industry staffing agencies

While you are searching for your dream job, working as a temporary employee can be a great way to keep your skills fresh and stay in the public eye. Oftentimes, temporary assignments offer the chance to get a direct referral to a job opportunity because you are proving your worth in the assignment.

Network at business mixers and association meetings

Business owners understand the importance of networking with others, therefore they can be found at business mixers and association events. See what’s going on in your industry of interest and get involve too. Let others know you are looking for a great opportunity and follow up frequently to get referrals.

Volunteer or be an intern

Just like temporary assignments, becoming a volunteer or an intern provides you with the chance to develop career skills and be in the right place for referrals. By demonstrating your skills and ability, you’ll be noticed by others who may know someone hiring for someone just like you.

Boost your online professional networks

Social networks, like LinkedIn, can also be a great way to get job referrals, if you know how to engage with others. Create professional profiles and brand them with your personal touch. Reach out to your networks and ask them to introduce you to potential hiring companies and recruiters in your market.

Ask for referrals from the right people  

Getting networked is one thing; asking for referrals from the right people is another. Take the time to categorize your networks based on personal and professional goals. Focus on getting referrals from those who are active in the industries you want to work in, then build them over time. Contribute and stay engaged in this effort.

Tell Us What You Think

Are you actively asking for and getting referrals to new jobs? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

More from PayScale

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How Employee Referrals Facilitate Job Recruiting [infographic]

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renjith Krishnan/

Tess C. Taylor
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