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Unlocking the Power of Referrals in Your Job Search

Updated: Jul 8, 2023


Are you tired of submitting endless job applications with little to no response? If so, it may be time to consider leveraging your network and seeking out job referrals.

What Is a Job Referral?

A job referral is when someone in your network who knows you and your work puts your name forward for a position. This person, or the referrer, can provide insight into your qualifications, work ethic, and character to a hiring manager or recruiter. Referrals can be made through employee referral programs, personal connections, or alumni networks.

Why Are Job Referrals Important?

Referrals are important for several reasons. First, they can significantly increase your chances of getting hired. According to a survey by Jobvite, referred candidates are 15 times more likely to be hired than candidates who apply through a job board.

Secondly, referrals can help you stand out from other candidates. A personal recommendation from someone the hiring manager knows, and trusts can hold more weight than a resume or cover letter alone.

Finally, referrals can provide you with valuable insights into the company culture and job requirements. Your referrer can give you an idea of what it's really like to work for the company and what skills and experiences are necessary for the job.

How to Secure a Job Referral

Getting a job referral can be as simple as reaching out to someone in your network and asking if they know of any job opportunities that would be a good fit for you. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Identify your network: Make a list of people in your network who may be able to provide a job referral. This includes current and former colleagues, classmates, professors, friends, and family members.

  2. Reach out to your network: Let your network know that you are actively job searching and ask if they know of any open positions or can refer you to someone who does.

  3. Be specific: When reaching out to your network, be specific about the types of roles you are interested in and your qualifications for those roles. This will make it easier for your referrer to identify potential job opportunities.

  4. Follow-up: If someone in your network agrees to provide a referral, be sure to follow up with them in a timely manner. This will show that you are serious about the opportunity and appreciate their help.

  5. Stay in touch: Even if you don't get the job, be sure to stay in touch with your referrer. You never know when another opportunity may arise; maintaining a strong network is important.

Tips for Success

When seeking out job referrals, keep these tips in mind:

  • Be professional: Treat your job search as you would any other professional endeavor. This includes dressing appropriately for interviews, following up with hiring managers, and thanking your referrer for their help.

  • Do your research: Before reaching out to your network, research the companies and roles you are interested in. This will help you better articulate your qualifications and demonstrate your knowledge of the industry.

  • Leverage alumni networks: If you attended a college or university, consider reaching out to the alumni network for job referrals. Alumni may be more willing to help someone who shares a common educational background.

  • Focus on quality, not quantity: Rather than asking everyone in your network for a referral, focus on building strong relationships with a few key individuals.

  • Seek out company alumni: Seek out past employees (alumni) who have worked there. Alumni can provide valuable insights into the company's culture and work environment and connect you with current employees who might be able to refer you.

Consider the Quality of the Referral

When trying to get a referral for a job, what matters most is that the referral is of good quality. Think about who's referring you. Do they have experience in the same field or department you're targeting? If so, that is good, as they can speak directly about how your experience would fit the job.

If your contact works at the company but not in the same department, they can still help you by saying good things about you. Candidate referrals that come from current employees often get more attention than those that come in through a corporate or job website.

Final Thoughts

Job referrals can be a powerful tool in your job search. Leveraging your network can provide valuable insights into the companies and roles you are interested in and increase your chances of getting hired. Start reaching out to your network today and build those important relationships. You never know where they may lead.


Are you a Veteran, military spouse, or transitioning service member interested in learning more or getting individualized job search assistance? Please email us at

Michael Robinson is a Career Coach at Easterseals Veteran Staffing Network (VSN), where he assists Veterans, military spouses, and transitioning service members in achieving their employment goals. With over 10 years of experience, Michael has held various roles, including hiring manager, corporate recruiter, and career counselor. Before joining VSN, he worked as a Department of Labor Transition Assistance Program (DOL TAP) Facilitator, where he helped military service members, and their spouses navigate the military-to-civilian transition process.


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