Networking? Don’t make this huge job referral mistake

Mark Daniel // January 27 // 0 Comments

This is a game-changer. Avoid this big job referral mistake now before you ask your friends and colleagues to help you find a job.

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First, congratulations!

The very fact that you are reading this means that you either have been, or you are about to start, using your network for job referrals.

It is truly amazing how many people never even consider doing this, so you are already up on your competition.

However, to get the results you want, you need to understand this one big mistake most people make to give you even more of an advantage.

The big job referral mistake that holds most people back 

To explain what this is, let’s look at what typically happens when people decide to network.

disorganised man

Typical Dave

Dave is a civil engineer. He’s coming to the end of his current project, so he thinks it would be a good idea to start putting some feelers out within his network.

Except, he’s pretty busy today so he decides he will do it ‘tomorrow’.

A month later, and with one week to go before he finishes up, he panics.

The Method:

He shoots a few messages off by text to his friends along the lines of,

“Mate, I’m finishing up this week and I’m on the lookout for a new gig. Can you put a word in for me with your boss?”

His friends, being friends, reply with,

“Sure mate.”

The Result:

Now people, being people, are busy.

They have good intentions to help Dave out but keep thinking they will do it when they get a chance ‘tomorrow’.

Others really want to but they feel uncomfortable starting the conversation.

Of the few that do put a good word in for him, the typical response is “get him to send his resume to HR.”

Which means straight into the Applicant Tracking System with everyone else.

Now Dave has finished his contract and has no project lined up.

Despite reaching out to many people, his networking efforts have got him zero results.

He has used up all his contacts and doesn’t feel comfortable asking them again, so he is now applying for advertised jobs along with ever other jobseeker.

But if he had just done one thing differently, he could have been in the job he wanted with no break in employment.

How to effectively use referrals to land a great job 

It all comes down to one thing – effort.

If you want people to help you, you need to tell them how – and make it easy for them to do it.

Plus, you need to have some control over the process.

Let’s go back to Dave but, this time he is prepared to make an effort.

man researching on laptop

Professional Dave

He knows that his project is coming to an end in a month’s time, so he decides to do something right now.

He sets aside time one evening to plan his approach.


The Method:

He makes a list of companies where he would like to work.

Then he researches current and upcoming projects they have.

Next, he looks through his phone and LinkedIn to see which of his contacts work for these companies or have worked for them in the past.

He drafts an email that he will send to his contacts that includes his resume and a brief descriptor of his skills, qualifications, and when he is available.

Because each company is looking for different things, he slightly edits each one to target them further.

He then calls these friends or ex-colleagues and says something like this.

“My contract comes to an end in a month’s time and I would be very interested in working at (company name where they work or used to work).

I was wondering if you would be happy to introduce me to (name)?

If you would, I can send you an email that you can just forward on to them because I know how busy you are.”

The Result:

Dave’s friends find it easy just to forward an email so most of them do it.

When he follows up with them asking if they had a response yet, it reminds the forgetful ones to actually do it so even more get sent.

The email goes straight to the hiring manager who can immediately make a decision on whether Dave is a good fit.

Inevitably, some say they don't currently have a suitable opening but that is fine because he now has a new contact.

Others invite him in for a chat about the opportunities they have.

Dave secures a new project before his current one has ended and has also expanded his network for next time.

What’s the difference? 

When you ask someone to ‘put in a good word’ for you the onus is firmly on them.

Lots of people will forget and others simply won’t be comfortable doing it.

You also have no control over the process because once you ask, you can’t ask them again without appearing rude or pushy.

However, when you ask someone to forward on an email, it’s so easy they are very likely to do it.

Using this method, you have total control over what the hiring manager will see so that you have the best chance of securing an interview.

Also, you can follow this up by asking if they have received a response because it will be about the person not responding, not about making you friend feel bad.

Key takeaways 

The biggest mistake people make with job referrals is not making the effort to make the most of them.


They put the pressure on the friend or contact to do all the work and just sit back and wait for a phone call.


By conducting research, you can really leverage the power of your contacts by asking them to forward on a carefully worded approach that will impress a hiring manager.


Structure your email as you would a cover letter targeted to a particular role.


Not only will you successfully bypass their Applicant Tracking System, but you will also save them a recruitment agency fee which can be a significant sum of money.


Everyone benefits, your friendships stay intact, and you get the job you want as opposed to just what is advertised.

Need help writing the job referral email?

use this!

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About the Author

A global resume writer and career coach, Mark is known for his honest, direct, and hard-hitting advice, helping people manage job applications and succeed at interviews. Now based on the Sunshine Coast in Australia, he is the co-founder of Real Life Career Advice and the Hi Vis Hub. A prolific publisher, Mark contributes to several industry magazines and his daily career advice blog to his 45,000 LinkedIn followers.

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