BeerWelcome to Ask Away,’s new weekly column! Every Monday, we’ll pose an employment-related question to a group of experts and share their answers. Have a question you’d like to ask the expertsLeave it in the comments, and you might just see it in next week’s Ask Away!

This Week’s Question:  We’ve all heard that employee referrals are a great source of high-quality candidates for companies, but where does that leave the job seekers who want to be referred? Do you have any tips for job seekers who are looking to be referred to a company? How can they use employee referral programs to their own benefit?

“Job seekers who know an employee should ask what pain points the company is currently feeling. Then they can reorient their pitch and cover letter to better suit the company’s needs. During the interview, they can also then ask more incisive questions about where the applicant can fit into the organization. Employees can only say so much because of NDAs [non-disclosure agreements], but they might point to public information that can be used to infer the company’s pain points.”

-Allen Cheng
Cofounder and Head of Hiring

“I would suggest that jobseekers search Google for companies that have employee referral programs. Here’s an example of an article that lists many.

“Once you’ve compiled a list, look in your LinkedIn network to see who you know at those companies. You can search your connections by company, and then either send them an email or use LinkedIn’s InMail feature.

“In your letter, refresh their memory of how you know each other, tell them how interested you are in working at XYZ company (and why!) –specifically in which role [you'd like to work] and why you’d be a benefit to the organization. Include a brief elevator statement on your strengths and a few career highlights.

“Ask for an introduction to the head of HR, or, ideally, the hiring manager for your target function. You [should] have already identified the right person(s) and can mention them in your letter. You might even use the ‘request an introduction’ function within LinkedIn to make the introduction as easy as possible for the person you’re asking.

“If the company has done a good job in communicating the employee referral program to its employees, the person you’re asking to help you will be incentivized to make the introduction. Make it as easy as possible for them and state your value proposition — you’ll be halfway there.”

-Jill Pearson
Pearson Partners International

“Find LinkedIn connections who have similar tastes: reach out to LinkedIn connections [whom] you not only have a strong personal relationship with, but also anyone [who] is similar to you. Employees tend to recommend people much like themselves.

“Suggest a pre-interview: Offer to take the contact to lunch as a way to provide all the information needed for a strong referral, from major professional accomplishments to what makes you an ideal candidate. This conversation not only increases your chances of obtaining an interview, but [it] also makes your contact look good for providing an informed recommendation.

Do not make it impersonal: What will hurt your chances of getting that dream job is making the request impersonal. Sending a generic note, attaching a copy of your resume, and expecting your contact to send it to HR or the hiring manager is just lazy and not polite. If it’s unsolicited, there is a pretty good chance it may hurt your chances of getting that job.”

-Matt Kaine
CEO and Founder

“Job seekers need to get out there and meet people who work in their career field. So, job seekers should figure out what professional associations they should become active in and find the professional networking events where they’ll meet people in their profession.”

-Rich Grant
President of the Maine College Career Consortium

“While every employee finds monetary compensation for a referral attractive, money is not the motivator. As in any type of a referral, the
primary concern is to look good. Will that referral be relevant and make a good impression [on] the company? If you are looking to persuade an employee to refer you, make sure that [the] employee feels you have the skills and you will make a favorable impression [on the company].

“The best way to utilize anything to your own benefit is to first figure out how you can benefit others. As you identify your target contact to refer you to a company, first identify what would benefit that person. Look [at] their recent activity on LinkedIn. A gentle reminder of the
company’s employee referral program would be appropriate.”

-Saundra Lee
Dubin & Lee

“If you know of a company you’d like to work for, it’s a great advantage to be referred by someone who works there. Making that happen can be as simple as asking that someone for more information about the company and letting them know that you’re interested in pursuing an opportunity there.
Questions about the culture or positions available can be a great segue to [asking] for a referral.

“If you don’t necessarily know someone in your immediate circle who works at your ideal company, using resources like Linkedin can help you find a
common connection that could point you in the right direction.

“If you know the company offers a referral bonus, approaching the employee can be even easier, because referring you is also a benefit to them.

“Half the battle is just building up the courage to ask the question. The worst that can happen is you’ll hear a “no,” and at that point, you’re no
worse off than you were before you asked. It’s always worth a shot!”

-Shayleen Stuto
Talent Coordinator

Power your recruiting success.
Tap into, the largest network of recruiters.

in Employee Referral]