7 Things You Should Know About Employee Referrals

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There is one thing you can do that increases your chances of being hired: getting an employee referral. Referred candidates are more likely to get hired, perform better and last longer in jobs. This is why companies, large and small, are investing in referral programs. It makes good business sense for them and for you.

Here are seven things you need to know about being a referred candidate, based on a recent survey commissioned by iCIMS, a provider of talent acquisition solutions:1. Referred candidates have better odds of getting hired. When an employee refers someone, that candidate is hired about two-thirds of the time. Plain and simple: You must find people who work inside companies you are interested in working for. Use your in-person network, LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook to identify the names of people you already know. It doesn't matter what role your contact is in. What matters is that you let them know the types of roles you are interested in and that you stay on his or her radar, just in case something comes up. It is always best to reach out to people before a job is posted.

2. Employees do make referrals. Employees are jumping on the referral bandwagon. Sixty percent of employees have referred at least one person to an open position within the company, and 38 percent of employees have referred multiple candidates for open jobs. If you are at all skeptical, don't be. By nature, people want to help, and it doesn't take much effort for an employee to refer you for a job. Just ask.

3. Candidates should start at the top. The higher the person referring you is on the corporate ladder, the better your chances of getting hired. Almost all candidates (91 percent) referred by a director level or above were hired, versus 53 percent of hired referrals from an entry-level candidate. If you do know top level executives, reach out to them first. However, don't hesitate to reach out to anyone you know inside the company, because being referred by any level employee increases your chances.

4. Referral incentives exist. While 63 percent of employers currently follow a documented employee referral process, the remaining companies accept referrals in a less formal way. Either formally or informally, companies realize that referrals make great employees and cost less to hire. When asking an employee to refer you, you're actually helping your contact reap rewards.

5. Referrals are the most important job-search resource. Seventy-six percent of job seekers ranked employee referrals as being of high to extremely high importance. This resource ranked higher than company career sites, job boards and even LinkedIn. You may be not believe all the experts who proclaim the power of networking, but you can't dismiss the advice when job seekers report how important referrals are as a resource.

6. Referred employees love their jobs. Sixty-five percent of referred employees were very satisfied with job fit or their ability to fulfill the requirements of the position, and 50 percent were very satisfied with how well they fit within the company. You don't just want a paycheck – you want a job you will enjoy. Leverage the power of past colleagues to help you identify a company and job where you are more likely to be happy.

7. Size makes a difference. If you're targeting small companies with 99 or fewer employees, 14 percent of new hires came from referrals. Medium companies (100 to 999 employees) hire 24 percent of referrals, and companies with 1,000 or more employees fill 27 percent of jobs through referrals. No matter the size of the company, hiring happens through referrals. It may be more difficult to find someone within a smaller company, but don't give up.

Bottom line: The best way to get your résumé to the top of the stack is by getting referred. The tools exist today to identify people who work inside companies you are interested in. It is easier to keep track of past colleagues. Plus, companies value the quality of employees who come from referrals. Isn't it time you paid more attention to this job-search resource?

Hannah Morgan writes and speaks on career topics and job search trends on her blog Career Sherpa. She is the author of "The Infographic Résumé" and co-author of "Social Networking for Business Success."
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