Employee referrals are the #1 preferred method of recruiting new employees across all industries. If the company trusts you enough to hire you, it's only natural that they would trust you to bring them more people like you! After all, current employees understand the company culture and internal landscape and are well-positioned to bring the company more qualified candidates.

Rarely though, do job seekers make it part of their strategy to secure a referral. Instead of searching the internet for open positions and then only applying to what you see available online, I want you to consider a backward approach. Start your search by targeting companies where you know that you have an inside connection and then go from there.

Follow these three steps to get referred for your next position:

  1. Search your LinkedIn network and make a list of the companies that your connections work at. LinkedIn makes this easy for you. Simply click on "My Network" at the top menu bar. Then click on "See all connections" on the left side. If you have hundreds of connections, focus on the companies that you are most interested in, or the connections that are the strongest.
  2. Research the companies that are on your list to find job openings. Once you've made a list of at least 25 companies where you already have a connection, research each one. You can do this through their company website, LinkedIn page, Glassdoor.com and a simple Google search. Determine which ones have openings that you are interested in and start with those.
  3. Contact your connection at each company. Let them know that you are interested and ask if they would refer you before you apply. An inside connection can give you guidance on the company's culture and hiring process. They can also identify the hiring manager for you so you can direct your cover letter and/or email directly to that person.

No openings at the companies on your list? Contact your connection anyway to let them know that you are in a search and what you are looking. They will keep you in mind for the future.

Many companies offer bonuses for employee referrals, often up to $5,000 for hard-to-fill positions. That gives them an incentive to help you in your search. If you want different results, you have to take different action. Good luck!
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