• Kwan Segal

3 Steps to Getting Referrals from Your Connections

Dear Coach Kwan,

This pandemic has made job searching so competitive. I am so torn by online job applications that don't yield results. You taught us about building meaningful connections with US professionals, and you advised we should not ask for jobs right away when connecting with people. I try to follow your advice but I am not sure how I can turn those connections into job referrals. Could you please give me some advice?

An enthusiastic international student wanting to find a great job

For international students, when the traditional job search process starts to yield worse results than before, you need to find people who can advocate your abilities to your target employers. You want to get your foot in the door without stumbling through immigration question hurdles, right?

Did you know that Employee Referrals are 4x more likely to be hired? If you know how to build meaningful connections, make people like you, and build your networking game plan, you are closer to getting job referrals! There are 3 steps as a checklist for you to get a quality job referral from your connections:

One) Build Your Career Brand

You need to have the right career branding. Without a career brand, your chances of getting job interviews and getting hired will be very small. Chris Ducker said Your personal brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room. Answer this question: if you are not sitting in a room to explain what you've done in the past and share your goals, can people identify your expertise and strengths right away when glancing at your resume and your LinkedIn profile for 6 seconds (the average time that recruiters spend reading a resume)? If you haven't discovered your career brand yet, it is very important for you to work on this diligently before asking for job referrals as you only have one chance to impress people.

Two) Stay Alert

After you have built trust and engagement with people in your dream companies, and have built the right career branding for your target job, please stay alert. Keep an eye on company news, e.g. business expansions, merger & acquisition, new product launch, system change, re-organization, market competitions, and job openings.

There are many online tools you can use to stay alert with the company news e.g. their social media channels and a platform that provides articles and research covers a broad range of stocks, asset classes, ETFs, and investment strategies such as Seeking Alpha, etc.

For example, here's an announcement from Amazon introducing their first custom electric delivery vehicle to fulfill their mission of zero-emissions delivery. Now you know their new initiatives, if this is aligned with your skills and career goals then you link the organizational goals to your career brand and reach out to your connections at Amazon for insights about the business units that are working on this project.

Three) Ask

Don’t be afraid to ask. However, instead of asking "Can you please refer me?" Please do your homework extensively before asking someone for help.

Lots of career tips said that asking for informational interviews will lead to job referrals. It’s true at some points but it’s not going to be effective if international students ask for an informational interview without building meaningful connections at the beginning. Please keep in mind that when you ask for informational interviews from a stranger, that person is doing you a favor. What frustrates busy people is when they agree to an informational interview, and then the person seeking advice spends 15 minutes talking about themselves and their job search instead of learning from professionals. Therefore, my recommendation is to take it slow. Build meaningful connections first and make sure that you have a strong career brand, stay alert with the job and company updates, then ask for referrals.

Once you find an opportunity, reach out to your connection and discuss with them openly and ask for their advice. Here's my magic question “What would be your recommendation if I’d like to be considered as a candidate for this position?" Let us know what topic you’d like to read in the next blog. Fill out a short form here.

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