REFERRALS: The New Currency in Job Search
It’s common knowledge that about an average of 75-150 executives apply for every job opening. It’s not a surprise that half of the people who apply for a job are not qualified. In the mind of the executive recruiter or hiring manager, a referral is more likely to be a qualified candidate. When it comes to choosing the final five candidates, typically two of those five were referred.

In three to five years how many out of 100 executives applying for a position are going to have a referral? Predictions point to about 15 to 20. And how many of the top five finalists are going to be a referral? Forecasts are that they will ALL be referred.

What recruiters and hiring managers are telling us is that they will go through their referrals before looking at anyone else. And some companies are forcing (well let’s say highly recommending) executive recruiters to look at referrals and diversity candidates first. Industry leaders predict that in three to five years if you are referred, you are 14 times more likely to get the job.

Referrals are the highest hire rate. Why?
  • Because birds of a feather flock together, so people tend to refer like individuals and executive recruiters know this.
  • The retention rate of a referred executive is higher, especially when a satisfied employee is the source and that saves the company money.
  • Referrals are exclusive. Recruiters get hundreds of resumes for a job opening – too many to review sometimes and following up on a referral or two is quicker and easier, and “golden” if it is the right fit.
The US is moving towards 60-80% of all hires coming from referrals. It is not true worldwide. In Australia – they don’t think referrals are fair. In Southeast Asia, there is huge angst over referrals. In an Asian county if a top executive makes a referral and that person is hired but doesn’t succeed, the executive will quit over loss of face. In India the only people they refer are usually relatives. So culturally you will see differences.

When executive recruiters don’t have referrals to start with, they know how to find them in LinkedIn. They start with a zip code, job title, and keyword search. They reach out to their connections and contact people who may either fit their search or know people who might. And they check each of those people to see who they are connected to, searching current and prior companies, school alumni, etc., before contacting them for an initial screening interview.

Recruiters are masters at drilling down to the information that would qualify someone as a fit for their search, which is why executive recruiters are now going to LinkedIn BEFORE they Google you. It is a better resource for professional information on potential candidates. Don’t be misled by this statement, they will still Google you after LinkedIn to check for online engagement and any digital dirt that may exist.

Bottom line: Continue networking throughout your career to keep that referral pipeline filled, and make sure your LinkedIn Profile is up-to-date and you are connected!