Moving On: A Guide To Getting Kick Ass Job Referrals

It’s dead. It’s not moving anymore. It’s your day job. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in an office in the middle of summer watching the “Out of Office” replies flood your inbox. Every hour, the impulse to storm out of your overly-air conditioned hell and into the bright sunlight grows….but it’s probably not that simple. The unemployment rate is high. You have bills to pay. What if you can’t find an other job or worse, what if you find something that pays you even less?

Here’s your quick fix to getting a fabulous job referral TODAY so you can start moving the f*ck on.

I just want to say up front that you’re not imposing on your colleges time or being too pushy by asking for a job referral. According to the US Department of Labor, 70% of jobs are obtained via referrals and this is because the referral process is a two way street. Most people want to help you get a better job and more importantly, they want to be the one making the connection because it helps them establish value in their network. In exchange, their colleague gets a recommended solution to their hiring problem.

So don’t feel like you’re asking for too much. You’re not. An older colleague once advised me, “Stop saying sorry. It’s an easy email to send and there’s something in it for me, too. I want to be the person who makes the connections between the old school people and the younger, hipper generation who actually knows something.” Once I realized that we were both getting something out of the deal I wasn’t afraid to ask anymore.

Now that we’ve got that settled, approaching your colleague with “I’m really sorry to interrupt your time” is bad. But “I’m flexible” is perhaps the worst thing you tell them. Your job is to provide the most specific, concrete information you can to help your contacts position you accordingly.

So, even if you are flexible, create a specific plan of action:

  1. Position yourself: Whenever you talk to people about a job search or career advice, mention key words that trigger a specific interest. For example, you’re interested in non-profit media organizations that focus on providing technology training to older women. Or, you’re drawn to larger companies with an international social media strategy that connects the brand to oversees markets. Or you like the challenge of working to make small technology-based start ups expand via mobile-giving apps. Whatever it is, it should be specific and include key words for that industry. These will help your contact make associations between you and the people she knows in that industry. The more specific you are, the more you’ll stick around in someone’s mind. If you want to get poetic: You’re tagging yourself in the vast search engine of people’s minds.
  2. With your new positioning, you’ll be able to figure out who to target. Of course informing your friends and family of this new positioning helps, but also begin to look at who’s who in this niche market. More importantly, who can you tap that you already know? If you’ve been working in your area of expertise, you have a head start. If you’re looking to switch fields, it may take you a little longer but LinkedIn comes in handy here. Login and search for a social media powerhouse or start up star you’ve researched. Do you have any second or third party connections? If so, send your connections an email and politely ask for an introduction. Make sure you mention your key-worded trigger interest as this will be the way they make the introduction.
  3. Repeat! I assume you have a lot of varied interests so use them to your advantage.  Once you’ve got your additional, specific positions, you’ve also got a whole new world of contacts to reach out to. Old co-workers, bosses, mentors, your own contact list from college. Narrow these people down and target each with one of your specific target positions.


Keep in mind that as long as you’re being respectful and not wasting people’s time with mass email blasts about your horrible work situation and how you’re now back on the market, most of your colleagues will want to help you make these connections and find a better job. So go start positioning yourself and let me know what happens!

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