I’m a regular reader. Most of the articles are about “How do I get a job?” How about one that talks about “How do I help someone else get a job?”
This just happened last week. I told a former co-worker that I would give him a recommendation. I was happy to do it because the company we worked at was bad, and he was a very professional guy. He told me a staffing firm would be calling, so I was ready.
The young recruiter asked me some typical questions like, “What tools does he use? Does he use Power BI?” These questions were mostly irrelevant to the job requirements. The recruiter was just checking off boxes on a form.
I interrupted. “What you need to know is that this guy can go into any job, figure out what needs to be done, and do it without being told. I saw it.”
The recruiter said, “Really? Oh, hold on, let me write that down.” I took him off his script, and I think I helped my guy out.
Because isn’t that what every staffing service wants? Someone who just walks in, does the job, and makes the staffing service look good? A recruiter asking for a recommendation may not realize it, so you just have to work with them a little to make them realize it.
I’ll bet the readership could come up with lots of examples of how to help someone else out.
When I suggest to people that they turn to their professional contacts when they want a new job, many lament that they don’t really have any. “I don’t know anybody!” You just showed how to make such contacts in what might be viewed as an usual way: by helping someone else get a job.
Personal referrals start with you
We all know that most jobs are found and filled through personal contacts. Yet we spend too much if not most of our time applying online via forms and clicks. Or, we wait for recruiters to spam us with unspecified “opportunities.” That’s a million miles from the nearest personal contact — and the nearest good job.
I learned long ago that even in the most volatile markets the best companies are quietly hiring — through personal referrals. But people misunderstand the personal referral. It doesn’t mean taking your friend’s resume to your HR department or passing it to your boss. It means sticking your neck out for someone like you’d want them to do for you.
Break the script when making a recommendation
Your story is not unusual but it’s instructive because you took the initiative to do more than answer a recruiter’s questions. You broke the recruiter’s standard script. Those scripts are designed to gather data points the company can process to judge whether a person is worth interviewing and hiring.
But you did the “processing” for the recruiter. You interrupted and gave the recruiter the answer: “This person is worth hiring. I saw it with my own eyes.” You made your recommendation personal to that recruiter. You stuck your neck out. That moved your buddy to the front of the hiring line.
Tap into a new network: help someone get a job
Sometimes we get so wrapped up trying to get ourselves a job that we forget where jobs come from: one another. Applying to a job posted online does not produce good will, or reciprocity, or personal recommendations. Helping someone else get a job does. It’s a far better investment.
That’s not to say you should help someone get a job just so they’ll help you get a job. My point is that helping others is a shared experience that fosters sharing help.
People are often confused about what good networking is and how to do it. Shared experiences are the most powerful component of good networking. In your case, your buddy just had a great experience with you. Now your network bond is stronger. The recruiter you spoke with had a very valuable experience with you and will think of you when looking for more good candidates — not just referrals, but perhaps to place you.
If you call your buddy or the recruiter in a few months and tell them you’re looking to make a change, do you think they might be the personal referral that gets you your next job? Or would you rather “network” with a stranger on LinkedIn with whom you’ve got no shared experiences?
Help: Be a network hub
When I started headhunting engineers in Silicon Valley I didn’t know anyone. I asked the senior guy in the office what I should do to be successful. “Spend every dime you can to take engineers to lunch. Get to know them. Make friends. Then introduce the best to one another. Do them that favor, then keep doing it.”
This pivotal practice made me the hub of an ever widening engineering network. I made many introductions that didn’t yield any placement fees. But most of those introductions were shared experiences that created trust and built many solid relationships. When I called these engineers for personal referrals to help me fill assignments I was working on, do you think they trusted me to share their best contacts? Do you think they put in a good word for me?
Don’t know anybody that can help you get a new job? Help somebody else fill a job or get a job by sticking your neck out, by breaking the script, and creating an unexpected shared experience. That’s how to tap into a new network. That’s what creates new and valuable personal contacts for you, too.
How have you helped someone get a job? How did you go the extra mile? How did you “say it” when you made a successful personal referral? Did it pay off indirectly for you? Has anyone ever made a special effort to help you get a job?