No. 1 Secret To Getting Hired In 2013

how to get hired referralsBy Nancy Collamer

Does it seem like the resumés you submit online vanish into a black hole? You're not alone. Most job seekers applying for jobs online never get so much as an email in return. So how exactly are people snagging offers?

Well, I'll let you in on a secret: The people who land positions these days increasingly get them through personal referrals from friends who work for employers with job openings. A 2012 Federal Reserve Bank of New York study found that referred candidates were twice as likely to get interviews and 40 percent more likely to be hired than other candidates. So if you're not doing all you can to get a referral, you're not looking for work effectively. I'll give you some pointers in a minute.

Referrals Are More Important Than Ever
Employee referrals have been part of the hiring process for years. But according to a recent New York Times article, "In Hiring, a Friend in Need Is a Prospect, Indeed," employee recommendations have become the key that unlocks the door. Workers at accounting giant Ernst & Young, for example, have been responsible for 45 percent of non-entry-level placements, up from 28 percent in 2010, the article said. Other companies, like Deloitte and Enterprise Rent-A-Car, offer prizes and cash incentives for employees who refer new hires. Sodexo, a food service and facilities management firm, even has a mobile app to let its employees easily submit recommendations from their phones.

More: What You Should Know About Working With A Recruiter

Referrals vs. Job Postings
It's easy to understand why hiring managers have grown so dependent on referrals. When I was a human resources director in the 1970s, I'd receive maybe 50 resumes, tops, every time I advertised a position. Today, when companies post openings online, they're deluged with hundreds (if not thousands) of resumes for each one. (For more on this, read Paul Bernard's Next Avenue article on the right and wrong ways to use job boards.)

Sifting through that mountain of responses takes a tremendous amount of time and effort. By contrast, employers can tap into their employees' LinkedIn networks to zero in on quality candidates in less time and with better results.

Referrals and Job Discrimination
The ugly side of this trend: Choosing new employees from referrals can be discriminatory. The Federal Reserve study noted that 71 percent of employees who recommended candidates named ones of their own race or ethnicity (which tends to be white) and 63 percent favored their gender. That's a troubling reality for minority candidates and, to some extent, women.

What's more, the hire-by-referral practice makes it tough for the long-term unemployed to get a new job. That's because the longer you're out of the workforce, the weaker your network tends to be. Employees are also often reluctant to refer friends who've been out of work for a while.

More: How To Win Over An Employer In 10 Minutes Or Less

4 Ways to Get More Referrals
Fair or not, companies will continue to rely heavily on employee recommendations for the foreseeable future. So here are four ways to help get a referral that could lead to your next job:

1. Let people know what you do for a living. This sounds so basic, but it's amazing how many people don't explain their line of work to friends or contacts.

By simply making it a point to be more forthcoming about your professional life when you're, say, getting a haircut or sitting on the sidelines at your daughter's soccer game you'll increase the number of people who might refer you for a job that's right up your alley.

I've known of several cases where these types of conversations have led to people getting hired. Just last week, I started talking to a man sitting next to me on the train. He engaged me in a lively chat about his work, which resulted in my offering to introduce him to a potentially valuable job contact.

Remember to keep your "old" friends up-to-date on your professional world as well. Include a few lines about your current job (or the type of position you'd like) in your annual holiday letter, for instance.

2. Become an active player on LinkedIn. Still not on LinkedIn? Shame on you! These days, whether you're working or looking for a job, you can't afford not to use LinkedIn. It's the single most important professional networking site on the Internet.

Once you've created your LinkedIn profile to promote your "personal brand" and set up your network, mine that network to find connections at your target employers. Then, email them to learn more about their companies and, when appropriate, ask for referrals.

You can also use LinkedIn to build goodwill, which could ultimately inspire your contacts to recommend you for openings where they work. Share articles, routinely participate in LinkedIn's group discussions and send congratulatory notes to others in your network. This way, you'll be on the radar of LinkedIn members whose firms are hiring.

3. Expand your in-person networks. As powerful as online networking is, it pales next to the effectiveness of meeting people in person. Commit to getting out of the house on a regular basis: attend a conference, take a class or go to a local college alumni meeting. The more people who know you, like you and are familiar with your work, the greater the chance they'll put in a good word for you.

Of course, meeting people is just the first step. You'll need to work at networking by cultivating those relationships.

Add your new acquaintances to your online networks; ask them to get together over lunch or coffee; and always, always, always look for ways to help them before you ask for anything.

4. Volunteer. I think volunteering is a wonderful way to expand your network of influential people and let others see your skills in action. (Don't forget to ask fellow volunteers to join your LinkedIn network.)

But don't just volunteer for the sake of volunteering. Always pitch in when needed and offer to assist whenever the group needs a hand. You'll develop a reputation as a reliable, hard worker.

Make an effort to engage in conversations with other volunteers, board members and executives at the nonprofit, too. Once they know you better and learn your capabilities, you can engage them in more substantive conversations about your career goals and job objectives.

Ultimately, this could convince them to refer you for a job at the nonprofit or anywhere else they work. Doing good as a volunteer could lead to someone doing something very, very good for you.

How to Get Job Referrals

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Kristy Schoenberg

This is a great article and exactly why I founded Riferral. Check us out at's free!

February 05 2014 at 8:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bryn Boyle

I agree with this article 100%. Some companies don't even post their JOs anymore for the public to see, relying solely on referrals made by their employees. But if there is a posting and you do not have anyone to refer you, there is still away for you to get noticed. To make an impression and stand out. For one, I can suggest giving graphical CVs a try such as those that can be made using an iPad and an app such as SHINE (

July 28 2013 at 3:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This article is 100% correct! There are so many things that you can do to land a solid job and get hired, but the easiest way humanly possible is to put on your sales hat and start networking and selling yourself. I created a guide to getting hired and this is what it is all about.

Major kudos for this article!


May 15 2013 at 7:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Prosen

Landing a job in today’s economy requires you to think and act differently. If you’re wed to the traditional way of job-hunting you’re destined to compete with everyone else chasing the same few opportunities.

The most effective way to get a job is to think like an employer. Sounds simple but many people don’t appreciate the importance or know how to do it.

Before beginning your search you have to understand why all companies hire. It’s to solve problems and your challenge is to position yourself as the solution. In other words, hiring you allows the company to solve problems faster, better and cheaper than they could without you. Here’s how to start.

Step 1 - Identify your skills and expertise.

Step 2 - Find the companies you want to work for and research them to uncover their problems. Use the Internet, Google alerts, read press releases and speak with current and former employees.

Your ability to uncover your target employers’ problems and position yourself as the solution is what will get you hired.
Here are just a few potential problem areas. Completing projects on time and on budget, improve product quality, improve customer service, increase sales, reduce costs, enhance online marketing, etc.

Step 3 – Identify the hiring manager.

Step 4 – Create a personal marketing plan to get your solutions in the hands of the hiring manager.

Step 5 – Develop a “One-Sheet” resume, to separate you from the crowd, along with a set of compelling cover letters that show your experience solving similar problems.

Step 6 – Follow up is essential to getting an interview. Be persistent but not a pest.

As a former executive with several Fortune companies I know how leaders think. People who have followed this process have gotten hired.

Good luck and never give up!

Bob Prosen –
The Prosen Center for Business Advancement

P.S. And yes, this works for recent college grads as well.
P.S.S. Market yourself to the companies you want to work for whether or not they have an opening
Check out this interview. In it I explain how people are getting hired.

March 14 2013 at 10:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

ALL these stories are pure BS any longer.

My younger wife who is only 45 has lots of experience and even worked at receiving 3 separate degrees and yet, time & again, told she is over qualified for every job she applies to. She has been unemployed almost 4 years now. She si registered with every Temp Agency too. She recently went to Job Fair at CVCC in Hickory, NC and it was a farce!

Not one of the booths there wanted a resume and everyone told her to go to their internet webpage to apply (which she previously had done multile times anyway).

And she said the longest line of all the booths there, was for the DSS jobs- go figure!

March 14 2013 at 9:10 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Getting hired if your over 50 requires a degree or certification. The referral system is 50 / 50, some HR managers won't go that route. Its an employer's paradise, hundreds to choose from and they know who their looking for and shop for the most perfect candidate. Your credit score must be excellent or your out, regardless of the reasons unless you are just filling a temporary void. If you've been unemployed for over 6 months, your out---flat out---out. When you fill out your application and reason for leaving last employer was laid off----your still laid off. Net working is good for professionally qualified people but the results may be slow and moving is probably a must. On line resumes are 1 chance in a million. In person is still the best results even though they may specify Not to apply in person, take a brief one page resume packed with solid information about you and don't over do it. If I were looking for employment, I would go in person with a resume, know the name of the HR manager, ask if I could talk to the manager for 2 minutes, show up neatly dressed and for sure nothing gawdy or adorned with messages and be persistant. There is a new school system, the old school still works best. Choose your employer instead of going from place to place. Show up every morning at 8 am, the HR manager will find a job for you.

March 13 2013 at 9:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ipmpak's comment

Problem is, if you are middle aged like my wife, went on to gain additional degrees even, you have deferred college loans which we must now pay off that push her credit score down like any medical bill does- so it is a very unfair system to the consumer and not right they are using only credit scores. it is not a true indicator of that person or their ability.

The entire credit rating system was chanegd a few eyars ago in fact. new algorhythm programs ebign used. ALl 3 majors are now listed on Stock exchaneg and this sia GREAT double standard as to what and who they are suppsoed to be in fact!

And in my own case, I have exemplary history and owned 3 homes in my lifewtime (all paid off properly) at various times, no derogs on my reports, and a small business owner, and recently 2 of my creditors tripled my credit limits (due to my good buying history from them) for their charge cards we use in our business (local banks will not lend to small businesses still), but it lowered my score instantly by 140 points seeing them do this.

March 14 2013 at 9:17 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

OH yeah and by the way, Life is not fair.

March 13 2013 at 6:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

its not what you know it is who you know. Always has been, always will be. Just the facts.

March 13 2013 at 6:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cathy's comment

Not always the case. I know of many who didn't the job DESPITE knowing an inside person.

March 14 2013 at 3:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I applied at this company after years they had an ad for hiring,was never hired i went to the congressman they got me in ,its a fact I had to re-apply" its unfair nevertheless im always looking for better myself"

March 13 2013 at 5:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Like many have told me, it's not what you know, it's who you know. Some people send resumes forever, others get jobs handed to them. Unfair but that is life.

March 13 2013 at 2:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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