I had to help out a former employee after we sold our real estate business. He was looking for sales opportunities. He did the usual thing of sending his resume via job boards and online applications, and had very little to show for it after a month or so. So I made a series of preemptive referrals.
I told him to give me one day – and I cold-called companies across the metro area for six or seven hours on his behalf.
I found 12 companies (who were hiring) that wanted to see his resume and three of them wanted to get his phone number and call him right away.
How did I do this?
“My name is Kevin – I’m wondering if you can help me. I’d like to speak to a sales manager or the person that hires for sales. [I rarely have issues with them wanting to transfer me to HR – but it does happen.]
“Hi, [Sales Manager] – Kevin Downey here. I’m former owner of LOBC in Leawood, KS, and my former manager is looking for a sales position. Really good kid and as loyal as the day is long. I’d like to get his resume in front of you – if you’re hiring.”
I let them answer or ask questions.
It’s easy stuff. He had a job within a week.
[Reader Kevin Downey posted this story as a comment on another Q&A column. It’s so good, I wanted to highlight it here!]
Your script is how I learned to place job candidates when I started headhunting. It’s perfect — for anyone.
What most people who are job hunting don’t realize is, all they really need is one former employer or boss, or someone they’ve worked with, to make those referral calls. They might ask, Why would anyone spend six hours making calls like that for me?
It’s a very smart investment for anyone to make, to help a good person land a new job.
How referrals pay you back
- You as the referrer made a great new friend in the manager who hired that “kid.” You did that employer a favor!
- You have a friend for life in the person you helped land a job.
- Your reputation as a source of good hires will spread if you keep doing this. Establishing yourself as a credible hub of good business referrals will bring you loads of business for years to come — no matter what business you go into next. It may even lead you to a new job.
- The universe shines more brightly on people who do favors that change lives.
- Most important, you did a good deed — and no one has yet figured out how to calculate the total value of that ripple in the big pond of life.
Is it a lot of work to gift someone a job like this? You betcha. But, how much work is it to find yourself a job? Wouldn’t you love to have a favor like this come back around to you someday?
Employers actually pay for referrals
A personal referral is a fair investment for anyone to make, once they realize they will need a call like that themselves one day. I call it The Preemptive Reference.
For those who don’t realize it, this is what an employer pays a headhunter to do: make personal referrals, recommend someone, provide a reference to the employer in advance of a job interview. In other words, you’re doing most of the work for the employer. Employers love that. They’d rather hire someone through a trusted source than to wade through resumes and job applications from people they know nothing else about. They even prefer to pay a headhunter for referrals than to go find good hires themselves.
(Employers also offer referral fees to their own employees when they recommend a new hire. But there are two critical problems with most of these programs: The fee is usually too small, and there’s not enough proximity between the desired behavior (a referral) and the reward (the fee) to stimulate enough referral behavior that it makes a difference. These fees are paid months after the fact, and usually in small chunks.)
Investing in referrals pays — just don’t expect a return immediately or even from the person you invested in. The gift of a referral may get handed across many people before it comes back to you.
Many thanks to Kevin Downey for this lesson in how and why up to 60% of jobs are found and filled through personal contacts!
Have you ever done someone a solid of this magnitude? How do you define a “preemptive reference?” Has anyone ever gifted a job to you in this manner?