The secret to getting a job interview

Are you tired of applying for jobs and never getting a response? You're not alone. This is one of the biggest frustrations job seekers face. So what can you do to stand out and increase your chances of getting a job interview? Simple. Get referred for the job.

Referred candidates are the top source of hires. Over 30 percent of new hires come from employee referrals, according to SilkRoad's Sources of Hire 2017 study. Companies reported that employee referrals beat out the other hiring methods, including applications from Indeed, current employees, candidates sourced by company recruiters, candidates from the company career website, candidates from CareerBuilder and candidates from jobs posted on LinkedIn.

[See: The 25 Best Jobs of 2018.]

Companies have referral programs. More than three-quarters of U.S. workers say their company has an employee referral program, reports iCIMS, a talent acquisition solution software provider. This means there is an incentive for employees to refer candidates for job opportunities. But financial incentives aren't the only reason employees refer people for openings in their company. Believe it or not, people want to help you and help their company. It doesn't take much effort for an employee to refer you for a job. All you have to do is ask.

Two ways to get referred. There are two ways to get referred. First, there's the proactive method. Before a job is posted, contact people who work inside companies you are interested in working for. Build a relationship with people you don't know and nurture relationships with people you haven't stayed in contact with. Let your contacts know the types of roles you are interested in and by all means, stay in touch just in case something comes up. When a job does become available, it is faster to reach out to the people you've been networking with and ask them to refer you for the job.

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The second way to get referred happens after you've found a job opportunity. Use your in-person network, LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook to identify friends or friends of friends inside the company. It doesn't matter what role your contact holds. What is important is that you reach out and ask for a referral.

[See: The 10 Worst Jobs for Millennials.]

LinkedIn makes it easier to be referred. Not only can you search for people you know inside a company using LinkedIn, you can now use LinkedIn's new job search filter to search for jobs where you have connections. From the desktop version of LinkedIn, go to the "jobs" tab. You will see a filter that says "jobs in your network." This allows you to first focus on jobs where you have connections. View the job and the people you know inside the company and identify the best person to refer you. Choose either someone you know well or someone who is familiar with your work. Asking someone you don't know very well to refer you can be awkward and may not get the desired results. Once you find the best connection to refer you, LinkedIn allows you to send a message directly from the job posting. The recipient will also receive a link to the job posting.

LinkedIn supplies a basic message which you can edit. Here's what the message says when you ask for a referral:

Hope all is well with you! I came across the [job title] role at [company name] and am interested in applying. Would you be open to sharing my LinkedIn profile with the hiring team so they know about my interest in this role?

Happy to chat more if you have the time as well. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Craft your own message. If you need to customize the message or you prefer to email your contact, your message should contain these four things: Remind your connection how you know each other, reference the job, explain why you're a good fit and state why you're interested in the job and the company.

Here's a template to help make it easier to ask for (and get) a referral:

Hello [name of connection]:

I wanted to reach out and ask for your help. There's a job opening for [job title] at your company and I'm very interested in applying for it.

You may remember, [state how you know each other].

Based on what I read, I believe I would be a great fit for the role.

  • [No. 1 qualification you meet]

  • [No. 2 qualification you meet]

  • [No. 3 qualification you meet]

I have been watching [company] and am excited about [something interesting the company is working on]. Additionally, [company]'s focus on [volunteer projects the company supports] aligns well with the volunteer work I've been doing at [volunteer organization].

If you need more information, I'm happy to have a conversation if that would be easier.

Thank you in advance for your help and support!

[your name and phone number]

[See: 10 Ways Social Media Can Help You Land a Job.]

The best way to get your resume to the top of the stack is to leverage the power of your connections inside the company. LinkedIn makes it easy to identify company insiders and keep track of past colleagues.

Copyright 2017 U.S. News & World Report