July 4, 2010
Insider edge: Network your way into a company that values employee referrals
The Associated Press
With job openings few and far between, it’s more important than ever that job seekers’ strategy is on target — and networking, particularly within your company of choice, should be the basis of that strategy.
Companies often fill positions by making internal employee referrals part of the company culture. Some firms even make hiring new workers through referrals a strategic goal. That’s something job hunters can leverage to their advantage by honing their networking skills.
For companies, having current employees recommend new hires gives them access to pools of talent they might not normally attract. And employees get the opportunity to recommend skilled newcomers and reap cash bonuses and internal recognition.
Job coach Will Robinson says job seekers should spend 75 percent of their search time networking and should use a “targeted company” strategy. Target the companies you want to work for, and then network to find people in those companies who can eventually tell you about job openings and, ideally, refer you for a spot.
“Instead of ... blasting resumes out to every company that may have an opening, you first identify target companies — usually 10 — and start a networking strategy to find individuals in these companies,” Robinson says.
Next, practice what career expert Alexandra Levit calls the 3/6 rule. “Contact the person three times over a period of six weeks,” she says. “If you don’t hear back, move on to someone else who will be more open to helping you.”
“Prudential has always viewed their employees as talent ambassadors. Our employees are an excellent source for referrals,” says Peter Price, director of global communications for Prudential Financial Inc. Employees earn between $500 and $2,500 for each successful referral, depending on the job level.
Hiring managers are not required to hire a referral over a more qualified candidate — decisions are based on skills, experience and qualifications. But “serious consideration is given to those candidates who are referred by Prudential employees,” Price says.
Employee referrals also help cut the cost of finding candidates, he says: “In most cases, the awards that are paid out for an employee referral will be significantly less than the cost of other sourcing methods.”
Will Robinson, a job coach in Arlington, Mass., says he’s seen a growing number of new hires coming from employee referrals.
“In some companies, as many as 75 percent of placements are done through networking,” he says. “Employee referrals are hugely important to companies. They are even more important in a soft economy, when companies are flooded with résumés, and many of them are bad résumés.”
From the organization’s perspective, employee referrals are extremely valuable, says Alexandra Levit, author of “New Job, New You: A Guide to Reinventing Yourself in a Bright New Career.”
“Not only do you receive a steady stream of qualified applicants without having to spend big dollars on recruiting, but those applicants come with built-in, trusted references,” says Levit.
Many companies consider employee referrals so important they mandate a specific percentage of positions be filled by referral, and human-resources representatives have to meet quotas, Levit says. That creates opportunities for anyone wanting to work at those companies: Networking with the right people can help get your résumé in front of someone who actually wants to see it.
What many job seekers don’t realize is that most openings aren’t advertised, Levit says. Many businesses prefer to hire from within the company or through word-of-mouth. “If you’re coming in from off the street,” she says, “you could be out of luck.”
- career profile (175)
- cool jobs (88)
- education and training (69)
- entry level (73)
- etiquette (120)
- events (72)
- featured (522)
- finding your passion (102)
- health care (82)
- HR (70)
- interviewing (97)
- job fairs (69)
- management (119)
- market trends (94)
- networking (300)
- resumes (107)
- salary (95)
- social media (100)
- technology (131)
- work/life balance (100)