Did you know that a referred candidate who has an interview is 40% more likely to get hired?
The hardest part of networking is not getting yourself out there but it is turning those connections into job referrals. As 80% of jobs in Canada are not being posted, networking helps increase the chance of tapping into those non-advertised jobs. However, oftentimes, we feel lost during networking and do not know how to turn this opportunity into something greater – get referred to the position.
How do you go from talking to someone to making them offer you a position or a referral? The short answer is you need a strategy. Most often, you will not get a referral right away after talking to one person for one time. Why? Because in order for someone to refer you to their manager, they need to trust that you can do the work and they will not be embarrassed if they refer you. This is why building a relationship is far more effective than a transactional networking call.
When you network with someone over a coffee chat, you only have 30 minutes to an hour to make a long-lasting impression with the hope that they will refer you to an opening position. Your strategy during a coffee chat is not to ask random questions, you will need to pitch your experience and show that you can be a potential candidate. Follow this strategy to maximize a coffee chat and turn it into a referral.
- Find out if there is an opening position
It is more effective to get a referral to an opening position. While you can still be referred to the hiring manager without any opening position, if the hiring manager has no control over the hiring budget, your referral might not play a big part. Research the company and its opening positions that you are interested in. Make a note of a job description that you are planning to apply for and the reason why you believe you are a good fit for the role.
- Research skills you need to be a successful candidate
You want to make connecting the dots as easy as possible for your connection. Essentially, you need to effectively tell your story about your experience & skills to convince your connection that you are the right fit for the role. List out 2 – 3 reasons why you are a good fit for the position and which experience of yours is most relevant to the job.
- Customize your introduction
Similar to going for a job interview, you will need to tailor your introduction depending on who you talk to and the points you want to get across. You should introduce yourself and talk heavily about the experience that you had as related to the role you are planning to apply for.
- Ask questions and relate
When you fire away your questions during the networking call, try relating what the other person says to your personal experience. For example, if they say the company uses Agile methodology in developing a software, and you have worked in this methodology before, you should talk more about your experience with Agile and how you practiced it in your previous role. If you never had an exact experience in the past to relate to, try talking about a similar experience or approach that you would take if you were in the position.
- Know when to make an ask
When you start the meeting, you want to mention that you are interested in the company and that you have been following the company for a while. This gives the other person a hint that you are interested in working there. After you ask your questions and hopefully make a good impression, towards the end of your meeting, you want to mention the opening position you saw posted online.
- Fact check
You want to make sure that the person you are talking to is capable of making a referral. For example, if the person you are talking to works in a large organization with a complex department structure, he or she might not know the hiring manager of that position and is unable to make a referral directly. As you ask the questions, you will get an idea about the other person and what he or she does or which team they work on. You want to get an understanding if the person you are talking to works in that department or knows someone who might be able to give out a referral.
- Make an ask appropriately
Once you tell your connection that you are interested in the position, frame your question in a way that you want their suggestion. You can ask using the following phases:
- I noticed an opening position on [DEPARTMENT], I was wondering what you think about my experience as related to the position. Do you think I have all of the qualifications and skills required to be successful in such a role?
- I am very interested in applying for this position, what can you recommend that I do in order to get my foot in the door? Is there any resource that I should look into or anyone else that I should be connecting with?
- If you believe that my experience can be a good fit for the role, would you be open to connecting me with the hiring manager?
- If there is a referral program and you believe that I can be a good fit for the position, I would appreciate being connected to a hiring manager.
- Don’t force it
Let’s say your connection is not the right person to make a referral or they are not comfortable doing so, don’t worry about it and keep trying. It will not be perfect the first try. However, the more you put yourself out there, practicing communicating your values, the more likely that you will get that referral!
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