Great Resumes Fast » Job Search » How to Get a Referral for a Job

Did you know that referrals are the most effective way to land your next role? In fact, if you have a referral for a job you are twice as likely to get the interview and 40% more likely to be hired for the position. Not only that, but referrals are also hired 55% faster than candidates from job boards. All these numbers to say, getting a referral for a job is the preferred way to job search. But how do you get a referral for a job?

How to Get a Referral for a Job

In this article, I’m sharing with you four strategies that you can implement to get a referral for your next role.

These strategies include:

  • Being proactive and networking before you need it
  • Using LinkedIn to search for connections
  • Searching for jobs using LinkedIn’s “In Your Network” feature
  • Engaging in networking conversations weekly

If you make it a goal to incorporate all four of these strategies into your schedule, your connections will be happy to refer you, and you’ll be one step closer to that perfect-fit position.

Get Started Now

Harvey Mackay said, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.” When it comes to managing your career, it’s best to start connecting with employees at your target companies well before you intend to make your next move. Additionally, follow, interact, and engage with the company on LinkedIn and their other social media accounts.

You can search a company on LinkedIn to see who works there and then connect with those who are:

  • In the position you are currently targeting
  • A step above the position you’re targeting
  • Decision-makers, hiring managers, HR, or recruiters at the company

Also, look for anyone you’re connected to who may be connected to someone within the organization. You can ask for an introduction if your first-degree connection is open to making an introduction.

I strongly recommend that you make connecting with others at your target companies part of your long-term, ongoing career management plan.

If you’re wondering what I mean by target companies, I advise job seekers to create a wish list of 30-40 dream companies that you’d love to work for. Companies that are a great match for culture, values, industry, location, size, and any other qualities/desirables that you want in a current or future position.

Make it a goal to make sure that you’re building relationships and networking with people within your target companies.

OK, so now that we’ve laid the foundation for your future networking efforts, let’s move on to what you can be doing right now to get a referral for your next job.

Use LinkedIn to Search for Network Connections

One of my absolute favorite features of LinkedIn is that you can see which of your connections works at a particular company.

Let’s say I’m in medical device sales and I want to work for Medtronic. It’s one of my target companies.

So, I head over to Medtronic’s company page on LinkedIn.

Medtronic’s company page on LinkedIn

From their page I can see how many connection I have who work for Medtronic.

Once I click, it takes me to the list of my 34 connections so that I can message them. Look for someone you know well enough that you’re comfortable asking to be referred.

This is where your proactive and ongoing networking and relationship-building activities come into play.

If you previously worked with someone at another company who now works at the company you’re targeting, they’re a great person so ask for a referral because they’re familiar with your work.

You can also select the “People” tab on the company page and LinkedIn will suggest “People You May Know.”

“People” tab on the company page

This is another great feature because it will suggest second- and third-degree connections who work there and who are connected with one of your first-degree connections. You can then message them and say something like:

LinkedIn suggested you under the People You May Know section and I thought it would be great to connect and build our network.

This is how you can get to know people within your target companies if you may not already be connected to someone or would like to expand who you’re connected to at the organization, which I always recommend.

Pro tip: Look for active users who are posting consistently and engaging on LinkedIn, that way when you engage with their posts they’ll notice and become familiar with your name. Add insightful comments to their post offering your own take on what they’re posting. This helps to start the conversation and build the relationship.

Search for Jobs in Your Network

LinkedIn has a great resource called “Ask for a Referral.” You can search for jobs on the Jobs page of LinkedIn. When you filter the positions, select “In Your Network.” This pulls up any jobs posted on LinkedIn where your connections work. Then you can reach out to the connection and request a referral for the job.

LinkedIn really does make it easy to get a referral for a job and if you’re not using the feature I encourage you to give it a try and see who you may already be connected to at one of your target companies.

Networking Conversations

If you’re anything like me, it’s easy to forget to do something unless I intentionally plan to do it. That’s one reason why I love my Michael Hyatt Full Focus Planner so much. It has this nifty section where I jot down my three biggest priorities for the day.

I recommend planning to network. Seriously.

Put it in your calendar, on your planner, or set a reminder on your phone.

There are a few different ways you can go about this, but it will be to your benefit to aim for at least one networking conversation every week. My colleague and executive coach Gina Riley first mentioned this to me, and I think it’s perfect for active and passive job seekers.

This activity goes hand in hand with reaching out to connections who work at your target companies. See if you can schedule a call once a week with a different connection at one of your target companies. Aim for one per week.

This may mean that you need to send 5-10 emails or Inmail messages requesting a 10-minute networking conversation. Not everyone will be available or willing, but if you let them know you’re not asking for a job and just looking for advice and recommendations people are usually more than willing to help.

Alright so now you know, if you get started early and are proactive in making connections, use LinkedIn’s “Ask for a Referral” and search features to find connections at your target companies, and aim to have ongoing network conversations weekly, you’ll get a referral before you know it!

Ready to take your job search a step further and connect with hiring managers? Check out our newest job search resource The Complete Guide to Connecting with Hiring Managers. You’ll learn how to bypass the job boards, reach the hiring manager, and get interviews now.

You may also want to read How to Take Control of Your Job Search So You See Better Results.


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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!

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