So you’re looking for a new job. Do your friends know? They might be able to help you get hired at a company you’ll love. Here’s how the people you socialize with could help you snag a job.
Having strong friendships and social connections can not only extend your lifespan; your friends can also help you snag a job.
In an era where employers are increasingly seeking referrals from current employees, your friends might actually be your best bet for finding an awesome new job.
Employers want vetted candidates, and when it comes to confidential and proprietary information, they want to make sure they’re not hiring someone who will go off the deep end.
Referred friends have longer tenure with companies, and the New York Times noted that employees hired through referrals are 15 percent less likely to quit their jobs. And, when people already know they get along, you’ll likely have an even better cultural fit.
Hospitality company Sodexo even told the New York Times they are 10 times more likely to hire a candidate referred by a current employee than someone who applied through normal channels. In fact, they are so eager for employee referrals that they created a mobile app that allows employees to refer people quickly and easily from their phones.
So, how can you ask your friends to help you get the job you’ve dreamed about? Here are a few tips.
1. Help your friends first
“The only way to have a friend is to be one,” said the wise Ralph Waldo Emerson. If you’d like friends to help you find a job someday (and who knows if that day is today or in five years), make sure to help others first.
Connect friends, make introductions, get to know people and what they do. By connecting others, you’ll expand the network that may think of you when an opportunity arises. (Click here to tweet this quote.)
2. Be vocal about the job you want
It’s often in poor taste to constantly talk about work when out with friends. But if people have no idea what you do for a living, they won’t think of you when an opportunity comes up. Sure, they may know your favorite sports team, that you love the beach, and are in a bowling league, but if friends and acquaintances have no idea you are an IT engineer or a visual artist, you won’t come to mind when a job opens up at their company.
Talking about work can give your friends a better idea of what you do at work, and what skills you have to share. When you’re ready to start looking for a new position, be sure to share details about your ideal work situation — especially if you’re thinking about shifting careers or taking on a new role.
3. Keep an eye out for jobs — and ask your friends to do the same
Many people working at a company — especially a large company — may have no idea what positions the company is hiring for. This is why it’s important not to sit around and wait for your friends to connect you with jobs at their companies.
Look up where they work, go to their “careers” pages on the company website, and see what’s available. If you find something that looks promising, ask your friend what they know about the position and department. Get all the information you can to see if you think it might be a good fit.
While you can’t rely on your friends to do all the investigative work, it’s always a good idea to spread the word that you’re looking for a new job. Many jobs are never posted publicly, and sometimes jobs are created for a person with just the right mix of skills and experience. Having inside connections who are looking out for you is a huge benefit during your job search.
4. Get the inside scoop
A friend who works for a company that’s hiring can tell you about all the things it might take you a while to glean through interviews. You can find out what they know about the department, your potential coworkers, the company culture, and more.
They can also offer key insights into the recruiting process. Hearing “Oh, that HR rep is on leave right now, so that’s why she didn’t return your call,” from a friend is so much better than waiting in limbo for what feels like forever. Of course, your friend is busy with his own job and can’t do your detective work all day, but he might have a few snippets of advice to share.
5. Ask about referrals
Referring a friend who is successfully placed in a role often comes with financial perks for the referring employee. Many companies offer referral bonuses, while others offer prizes, including large-screen TVs and iPads. According to the New York Times, some firms want to have up to 50 percent of new hires come through internal referrals. Incentives help employers meet these goals.
If you want to ask a friend for a referral, be sure to ask in a way that is beneficial to your friend. If they are new at the company, it’s typically best not to ask — they often wouldn’t have the social capital at that point to refer a friend, and if they do, they might not be willing to use it in that way anyhow.
Also, don’t ask acquaintances or casual friends to connect you since they might not know you well enough to stake their reputation on you (and vice versa). While there are plenty of incentives for connecting the company with a great new hire, there may be social repercussions if they refer someone who is a bad fit.
Most importantly, be okay with hearing “no.” Even the best of friends may have good reasons for not wanting to refer you to their employer. Don’t be offended if this happens, and don’t take it personally. There could be many reasons for this that have nothing to do with you.
How have you worked with friends to land a great new job? Have you ever provided a referral for someone else?
Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.