how your friends can get you hiredThe number one best way to get a job is through a friend. That’s because employers recognize that employee referrals are statistically more likely to be a good fit and are more likely to be retained.

Throughout my career in Human Resources, employees would frequently stop by my office to ask if the company had any openings. If we did, I was always thrilled to talk to everyone referred by one of our employees. Why? For one, no employee wants to tarnish his/her reputation at work by referring a friend unless that person shares the company’s cultural values. Secondly, when an employee refers a friend, that tells me that I have a happy camper in the ranks; no one is going to drag a friend into a situation that makes him unhappy.

In fact, an employee doesn’t even have to be a friend to get you hired, second degree connections from your LinkedIn network can be your pathway to a job, too.

Don’t feel awkward about asking a total stranger to ask for a favor based on a shared connection, but most companies offer an incentive – usually a financial one – to the employee who recommended you if you are hired. So, don’t be surprised if your request for help is swiftly acted upon. It’s only fair that you offer to take this person out for coffee so that he or she can meet you and decide if advancing your candidacy will help or harm them. So in your introductory email, make the offer, and say you’d love to hear that person’s insights on the company. If time allows, ask your mutual connection to make an introduction. Otherwise, contact the second degree connection yourself.

Without a doubt, being referred by someone who already works at any company is the best way to get a job. Networking is the critical element, of course, but don’t forget that a great resume and LinkedIn profile are key to a job offer.

Anecdotal evidence that your friends can get you hired

The Hiring Manager is having coffee with a friend and mentions that he’s having little luck finding someone worth hiring for this business analyst position on his team.

His friend replies, Hey, I know someone you should talk to. My wife’s friend Jennifer is a business analyst who works on software products for XYZ Co.”

“Thanks!” Hiring Manager replies. “Ask her to send me her resume.”

Do scenarios like this actually happen? ALL THE TIME.

But more often, you need to make them happen. Here’s how:

Nourish your LinkedIn network relationships. Unlike LIONs  (a concept that makes zero sense to me because networkers interact with their connections, and accepting everyone makes it impossible to actually have a relationship with each connection) effective networkers understand that the foundation requires relating. The relationship doesn’t have to be face-to-face,  but it has to be real. I’ve never met most members of my LinkedIn network, but we communicate via phone or email or even through commenting on LinkedIn on a regular basis. I can count on any of these folks to help me and they know the reverse is always true. So whoever you are connected to, be certain to cultivate the relationship. Networking isn’t a gimme-gimme transaction. It’s knowing how to leverage what you have to help a connection with what he or she needs.

When you’re interested in a new job, type in the name of the company where you want to work, or that has posted an interesting opening into the search bar on LinkedIn. Recently, a client was interested in a Product Development position at Kevyn Aucoin Beauty, so we did just that, and discovered that I have two second degree connections.  I reached out to both of them, writing

We are connected via <mutual connection name>. I am writing regarding <my client’s name>, who is Assistant Manager of Product Development testing at <her current employer>. I think she’d be a good fit for the role. Can you please let me know if you are still looking for candidates, and if so, would you be willing to pass her resume along to the hiring manager?

Just yesterday evening, I was meeting with a client who is close to completing her Master’s in Risk Management, and has her eye on a position at BP. I recalled that a former client (I invite all my clients into my network) works for BP – in the same country that my current client happens to come from. As we sat over my laptop at Starbucks, I messaged former BP client to ask if she would reach out to current client and do what she could to help. Since I had reached out only last week to ask after former client and congratulate her on her new job, it wasn’t awkward to ask, and she readily and graciously offered to help.

Before I started my own business, I was twice in the market for a new job, and was hired at both because of my LinkedIn network. When I noticed that the CEO of a small telecom company who needed a HR person with global experience was connected to Richard, a first degree connection, I asked Rich to contact the CEO on my behalf. Two days later, I was hired. A few years later,  a member of my LinkedIn network shared a recruiter’s post about a SaaS company’s need for a senior global HR leader. I contacted the recruiter, mentioned the share and mutual connection, and was in her office that afternoon for a screening interview. The following week, I interviewed at the company, and the week after that, I was offered a contract-to-permanent position, where I worked for two years.

Looking for a new position? If you simply upload your resume and cover letter, your application has a greater than 50% shot at getting lost forever in cyberspace. But when you leverage the power of your network to get actual human beings to advocate for you, that’s when the interviews start coming.

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