How to ask for a referral for your next job?

The good practices and thoughts to ponder

Nov 24, 2021 · 6 min read
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Getting referrals is a very efficient way to land an interview at any firm. Also, most firms have a referral program where the employees get a small referral bonus if the person they referred gets hired.

So, it is a win-win. If you are a strong candidate for a job, people would be happy to refer you. They have nothing to lose. However, there is a problem. Many people seem to be doing it wrong- how they seek a referral. I am sharing some of these thoughts from my own experiences and those of the people around me. I hope some of these points help improve your conversions for referrals.

That said, do add a disclaimer and think through for yourself as to what is applicable for you.

The key to improving your referral conversion is in making it very easy for the referee to give that referral.

Here are some dos and don’ts while seeking referrals via LinkedIn.

Some common one-liner questions better NOT to ask:

You have to mention the context, job id, job link, email id, and why you are a strong profile. If you aimlessly ask a question like the above, people are not going to spend their time giving you all the details. It’s your responsibility to search and provide them. Go to the official careers page of the company and identify the exact role you want to apply for. Find the job id there. Read the JD properly. Send all these details to your referee in your pitch. If you do not do your due diligence and ask someone to do it for you, that’s rather unwelcoming. Show that you are really interested in your career and have done your research. If you yourself do not know what job you are applying for, it doesn’t make sense, right?

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Here’s a little demo of how to approach seeking a referral. I hope this gives a good demonstration of how to go about various intricacies.

Let’s say you are a software engineer looking to find a referral for a job with Amazon. You go through the Amazon careers and job page and browse through the current openings as per your interest and location. You then pick a job relevant to your profile and get the job id, link, and any other required info. For example, say you are interested in an SDE2 role, you go and find out the most recent openings. You have found an opening, say, this one:

The job id is 1827193. Upon reading the job description, you will find the relevant skills needed and how to pitch yourself.

Now, you can go to LinkedIn and find some existing Amazon employees and pitch yourself in the very first message you send them. Give them all the details I have mentioned before and hope for the best. If the person doesn’t reply within 24 hours, you can find some other Amazon employee and pitch again. Try it 4–5 times and eventually, you’ll get a reply. If you give all details directly, it makes it easy for someone to refer to you.

At the same time, look for referrals for jobs that really match your profile. That saves time for everyone. You may not want to seek a referral for a profile where the JD doesn’t match properly with your resume.

I try to explain all this in detail because people are sending messages without context. If you send a message like, “Hi, can you refer me to Amazon?” without any context, it can get pretty directionless. What job role should you be referred to? Where is the job id? Do you have relevant experience? You get the point right? Do not expect your referrer to search for a job for you. That is your basic responsibility.

A referral pitch format checklist

All said it’s ok if you never get a reply or a referral you expected. Sometimes, even when you did everything perfectly, things might not work out as expected. Just remember that you have many more opportunities and so many more shots to take.

And you will miss 100% of the shots you do not take. So take every shot you can for the opportunity you seek.

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