Sunday, December 13, 2009

Get Yourself Referred -- Part II of II

Earlier this month, we discussed the importance of referrals in the recruiting/job search process. The truth is, recruiters have a love/hate relationship with referrals. They absolutely l-o-v-e referrals that match open positions. A targeted, validated referral is like manna from the heavens.

On the other hand, a mis-fired referral doesn't help recruiters fill immediate needs and most likely creates additional work. It falls to the jobseeker to ensure that he or she gets referred by the right person to the right person for the right job.

Getting yourself referred -- successfully -- means that you'll have to do some homework. Before you fire off an email to your neighbor, asking him to forward your resume to Human Resources, you must conduct research on the following topics:
  1. The Position -- find out the exact job title of the position for which you are applying. Search the company website (most companies have a careers section). Are there multiple jobs open with the same title? Perhaps they are in different divisions. Make a note of the position that most closely matches your skills are target that position. Make a note of the position number, and be sure to mention the position number in your email and cover letter. Sometimes the website lists the date the job was posted. This will tell you if the job is brand new, or if it is an older posting. Just because a job has been listed for a while does not mean it is not valid. For a number of reasons, the company might be having difficulty filling the position.
  2. The Department or Division -- Explore the company website to find out more information about the department or division in which you have interest. Do a broader Google or Yahoo search to find out more about the division. Perhaps they have done something newsworthy in the last few months. Make a note of any executives or managers mentioned in articles. Search LinkedIn and Twitter for these folks; add them to your networks. If you have a contact or friend at the company, ask about the reputation of the department. What are the challenges they face? What are the people like?
  3. The Hiring Manager -- If you do not have a connection into the company, this information may be difficult to come by. But not impossible. If you know the company, the job title and the division or department, you might be able to find the name of the hiring manager by doing a web search or searching LinkedIn. This is a bit like putting together a puzzle. Before you submit your resume, make sure you understand how all of the pieces fit together.
  4. The Recruiter -- Again, it's best to have an inside connection to get this right, but there are plenty of ways to get this information, including LinkedIn or Twitter. Many recruiters have a LinkedIn profile -- a good place to start. Some recruiters are active Twitter users, as well. Check out this exhaustive list of recruiters on Twitter.
  5. Relevant insider info -- If you have an inside connection, have coffee or a face to face conversation about the open position, the company, and the best way to submit your resume. Your contact might be able to tell which division is more likely to hire, or which hiring manager should be avoided. He or she might also offer an assessment of how you might best fit into the organization. At the very least, you will be able to let them know how interested you are, how qualified you are, and how grateful you are that they have agreed to act as your advocate. Pick up the tab for the coffee!
Once you have this information, you're ready to get yourself referred, to the right person, for the right job. This is a lot of legwork, but it will give you an advantage in a tight job market.

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