What makes someone “referable?” With 80% of jobs filled by referral – aren’t you curious to know the answer?
By referable, I mean you are that person a colleague will rave about to an employer, saying “I’ve got someone you’ve gotta meet.”
The colleague sees your gifts clearly.
She wants to champion you.
She wants credit for introducing you!
If your job search has stalled maybe you’re not passing the refer-ability test. No worries! Embrace the following 6 qualities to help you pass the test with flying colors and get referred.
1. Be specific about what business problems you solve
Conduct a self-assessment before you begin your job search. What do you do best? For example,
· Does your team always send you the most difficult clients? (Customer Success Expert)
· Do you ease employees through a rapid growth phase? (Change Management Leader)
· Do you notice problems others fail to anticipate? (Risk Disruptor)
Knowing what problems you solve helps differentiate you from everyone else. Think of it as your highlight reel which helps your network understand your value.
For example, my client Rachel knew she was good at streamlining administrative processes which boosted efficiency and morale. She shared her “highlight reel” while networking and within 5 weeks of launching her search, she landed a job.
People who know what specific business problems they solve are much likelier to be referred.
- Why were you hired at your last job? What gave you the edge? How did your edge impact the company positively?
- Think of an accomplishment you’re proudest of. What personal qualities or skills did you use to complete it and what was the impact of the accomplishment?
- If you were hired today, what would set you apart from everyone else a year from now, and how will it affect the bottom line?
2. Be clear about the role you want and companies you’re targeting
Too many job seekers say, “I’m keeping my options open.” This approach may be convenient for you, but boy it’s tough on everyone else.
Here’s an analogy: You would never say to a friend, “I want any old spouse.”
It’s silly, right? Because
- You DON’T want any old spouse. You’d be miserable with any old spouse.
- As your friend, I want to help you. But you don’t “help me help you” if you don’t know what you want.
Instead, if you tell me “I’m looking for someone mid 30’s, open-minded, who’s mad about Harry Potter” you give me easy markers to make a mental inventory AND someone to look out for if this person ever crosses my path.
- Using keywords and skills you generated from #1 above, do a search on LinkedIn to discover what roles match your skillset. Course correct as you go, refining the role you’re seeking.
- What industries are you interested in working/breaking into? You can get a list here, from LinkedIn. Narrow the list down to 3-4 and announce these to your network.
- What companies would you love to work at? Not sure? Check:
· Local “best of” lists in your city
· Glassdoor to see who is favored
· Your city’s local business journal to research and learn about local companies
Being knowledgeable about specific companies makes you look like a million bucks, like a top-notch candidate your connections will chomp at the bit to refer.
3. Be concise
Can you answer a question crisply with focus and specificity?
If you can, you will leave an excellent impression on your audience. If you struggle with this, take heart.
- Join Toastmasters. The weekly structure and built-in feedback system is ideal training ground for strengthening your verbal skills in a safe, upbeat environment. It helped me tremendously.
- Be considerate of your listener by avoiding the typical “verbal dump” of ideas:
· Slow down when speaking.
· Remember to punctuate your phrasing (use periods, commas, question marks).
· Avoid digressions – particularly in professional situations where people are forming impressions of you.
Employers want someone with ears. I meet many job seekers so filled with anxiousness they forget I’m there. The conversation is disappointingly one-sided and doesn’t reflect well on them. I don’t feel comfortable referring them to colleagues.
In contrast, according to Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman “good listeners are like trampolines. They are someone you can bounce ideas off of — and rather than absorbing your ideas and energy, they amplify, energize, and clarify your thinking.” When I meet a great listener, I instantly run through my mental Rolodex thinking, who can I connect her with?
- During a conversation, beyond 1 minute, do you know most people tune you out? Flip the conversation back to your listener after 1 minute.
- Be curious about others. A good rule of thumb for job-referability: If there are 2 of you, talk less than 50%. How can you deepen the conversation and offer value?
5. Remove Chip on shoulder (if it’s there)
You may not have a chip on your shoulder. If you do, you may not know you do.
Tell-tale sign: You catch yourself complaining to others about how hard job search is:
· “Job search shouldn’t be this hard.”
· “Hard working people deserve good jobs.”
· “HR sabotages the job search process, making it impossible for job seekers to meet the hiring manager.”
I’ve heard these complaints recently from job seekers and while I feel sympathetic, they don’t endear me to the person who said them. The attitude smacks of “I’m a victim” which makes you –I’m sorry to say – resistible.
- Be impactful somewhere (see Toastmasters, above). If you feel your influence in other arenas, you’ll easily shrug that chip off your shoulder.
- Assume an officer role at some organization. During my last job search I recruited Guest Speakers for our job search club. I interviewed each one and always wrote an exuberant introduction for them. One of them hired me.
The shortest distance to a job is measured by the number of people thrilled to refer you. The key to refer-ability?
Be clear about your value. Be concise. Listen well. Stay positive.
Stay connected to your highlight reel and not only will you own your job search, you will leave an indelible impression.
Have I left anything out? What qualities make you refer someone?
Photo by Asher Lapham
Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a certified LinkedIn™ Profile Writer, LinkedIn trainer, Career Transition Coach and Forbes Contributor. She is the founder of Coming Alive Career Coaching, and loves teaching people how to get found on LinkedIn. A participant in one of her workshops recently wrote: “Julie’s LinkedIn class took me from a skeptical LinkedIn novice to a believer in the power of LinkedIn!”