student employee appreciation cake

The Power of Referrals

by Sarah Wilkinson, Class of ’17

The best way to get a job – no surprise – is by knowing someone or someones in the company who can give you referrals. Hiring managers sifting through resumes are more likely to stop on yours if they’ve heard your name before, and even better, if one of their employees has recommended you.

So why does this happen? (And for the record, it happens often: 80% of jobs are landed through referrals.) There are lots of benefits to hiring referrals, at least in the eyes of hiring managers.

  1. Referrals take less time to hire. From the reception of a resume to the time of hiring, an average of 29 days passes for applicants who have been referred; it takes 55 days to be hired for applicants from a career site.
  2. Increased job retention rates. 46% of referrals who are hired stay for three years or more, whereas 14% of those hired from a career site stay that long.
  3. Referrals fit in better. 70% of employers from a survey said that those hired as a referral fit better with the company culture than those hired in other ways.
  4. Referrals save money. If companies can get their positions filled without advertising them, it saves them a lot of money and time (and you know the saying: time is money).
  5. Referrals perform better on the job. Because current employees know the culture and the type of work, they tend to refer people who would be a good fit for both. Therefore, referrals tend to be better-suited to the specific position than people hired in other ways.

Getting hired by a referral is not the only way to get a job by any means. Many people find their dream jobs by scouring job sites or answering a classified ad. I have found jobs in both ways. My summer internship was never advertised because I have two family members at the company, and was hired from the moment the position was created. But I’ve also cold-called and walked in places to shake hands with the manager and hand them my resume and been hired this way. Opportunities pop up all over the place, and don’t forget, you can create opportunities just as readily.

So how can you go about securing a referral?

Well, there’s always the option to work at a company where someone you know works, and therefore, can give you a good recommendation. But if you don’t have family or friends or former colleagues working for a company you want to work for, you can always try to connect with people on LinkedIn who do. Networking is huge in referrals. The more people you know, the more people can referral you (and you can then refer). Career Fairs, networking events, LinkedIn: all of these are great places to reach out to people seeking connection. Before a referral can be requested or given, a relationship has to develop along with a little bit of trust, so follow-up and continued communication is key here. For some people, this may seem like a lot of work for no guarantee of a job, but the job stats are in favor of referrals.

The bottom line is: sometimes things work out the way you plan and sometimes they don’t. You may connect with someone hoping for a referral and find your dream job by applying to a classified the next day, or vice versa. Keeping your options open is a good way to ensure that things work out no matter what.

Sources: AJO Conner, Quora