Referrals – The Key to a Successful Job Search in 2014

Last Friday, Danielle Crabb (’s Resume Analyst Supervisor) and I attended the 2014 Career Thought Leaders (CTL) Conference: “Framing the Future.” Though we were only there for one of three days, we enjoyed 5 sessions packed with novel insights into what’s happening now and what’s happening next in the job search and career development worlds.  While a wide variety of topics in recruiting, targeting, and resume writing were covered, a common theme throughout the day was referrals. Who you know is more critical than ever in getting that dream job.

  • Gerry Crispin of CareerXRoads labeled referrals as the “silver bullet” of a successful job search, sharing that an applicant with a referral from a current employee is 14x more likely to get the job compared to an applicant without a referral.
  • Adrienne Alberts, Program Manager of College and Workforce Inclusion Programs for the American Red Cross, stated that referred employees lead to higher retention as well as better culture fit, quoting the adage “birds of a feather flock together.”
  • Steve Dalton, author of The 2-Hour Job Search, called referrals the “new currency” in hiring decisions and emphasized the importance of systematically building a network. Furthermore, hiring managers take advantage of referrals to avoid the “resume slush pile” and make their lives easier.
  • Cheryl Milmoe, ACRW of Cardinal Expert Resumes, made a great point that successful job seekers should market themselves like CEOs and be the VPs of their search. Executives use their network, not just online job boards, to find opportunities. They know their strengths and successes and are prepared to communicate their selling points to others at a moment’s notice.

So how does a job seeker get valuable referrals? Network! Use resources like LinkedIn or professional organization directories to identify your existing connections as well as potential new ones. Get out from behind the computer and set up informational meetings. Let your connections know you are looking for a new position – you never know how few degrees of separation away you are from a key contact.  Another common point made by several of the conference speakers was the importance of a plan. Keep track of your networking activities – individuals you’ve connected with, when, where, what was discussed, and next steps.  When you meet with potential referrers, take the stance of an individual seeking their valuable insight (not a desperate job seeker). While technology reigns supreme in many areas of the job search and you have to play its game throughout the application process, personal connections and relationships are critically important in a market where the majority of employers and recruiters won’t settle for less than the perfect hire.


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