Barrier Referrals: How to Get an Inside Track

Barrier Referrals: How to Get an Inside Track

Got a dream job? Most people do. But what prevents most people from achieving that goal is actually getting their foot in the door. This is where you need to have a complete paradigm shift in how you think about applying for jobs.

Every company has two doors: The front door, which is otherwise known as the usual online application process/email your résumé to the human resources department. And the side door, which is accessed through your connections at the target company.

These connections are the ones who can be your internal advocate at that potential employer. In fact, many companies reward current employees with financial incentives when they refer a colleague or friend who ends up getting hired. The premise is that great talent knows great talent because they share the same work ethics and values.

Once you connect with one of your networking contacts at the target company, either they can put a good word in for you, provide insider information about the process, or provide the actual name of the hiring manager so you can contact them directly, in addition to going through the usual front door process.

So this process sounds simple enough, right? Wrong.

And here’s where most people go wrong: They usually don’t maintain a robust network of contacts that they keep in touch with on a regular basis.

Sound familiar? We meet a new person, perhaps connect with them on LinkedIn, and then the new connection grows cold … as in, “Who was that again? I can’t remember!” Smart careerists will start by identifying a target company, then they will gradually and progressively network their way towards people who work at those target companies.

But this networking process means putting some skin in a ground game that involves more than a single interaction. It requires a very careful and purposeful cultivation of relationships with individuals at target companies. This means becoming a known quantity BEFORE a job opening … not DURING.

Your job is to start building a list of companies where you’d like to work, then investigate who in your network, or in the network of your contacts, works at those companies. Study them carefully and determine what kind of organizations they belong to in order to find opportunities to connect in person. Set up informational interviews. Connect with them using a personalized introduction on LinkedIn.

Everything that you do now to lay the ground work for a future job conduit will pay off dividends when the opportunities actually come along. By setting up internal advocates/cheerleaders at target companies, you are creating a referral network that can add gravitas to your candidacy in a way that simply applying online cannot.

Editors' Note: The views expressed by contributing bloggers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Meetings Today or its parent company.

Click here for more career tips (and videos) from Dawn!

Posted by Dawn Rasmussen

Dawn is Chief sumé Designer at Pathfinder Writing and Career Services in Portland, Ore.

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