Job Referrals

Most of us have gotten a job by being referred to the employer by probably a friend, a former colleague/boss or even a parent. Referrals are proving to be one of the best ways to fill up a position because of the fact that someone you know or trust has sent them to you and can vouch for them. Referrals are usually a matter of reputation, especially for senior positions, because should things go south, eyebrows are raised to the referrer.

Sometimes though, these referrals tend to become a pain on one’s backside, especially the recruiter. Someone recently referred an individual to me for a position that we were looking to fill up and as usual, I wanted to ‘get a feel of them’ first before I made a decision on suitability. So I reached out to them and scheduled a virtual interview, which the individual confirmed they would attend. On the day of the interview, he was a no show. There was no communication from them afterwards of what happened except them going back to their ‘referrer’ to ask, ‘what happens now?’ That train had unfortunately left the station. I’ve had a separate experience where the person being referred was late to the interview and I reached out to find out the and they told me they were just joining shortly, only for them to turn off their mobile phones so they couldn’t be reached. The person never attended the interview and I ended that communication at that point. These are just a few of my experiences.

The point I’m trying to put across with the above illustrations is that there is a responsibility on both parties; the referrer and the referred that must be met for any referral engagement to successful. To the referrer, it is important that you establish from the person seeking a job through you that they are actually interested in the job you are working very hard to secure for them. That they asked you 3months ago to help them find ‘any job’ does not mean that they are looking for any job. As a matter of fact, ‘any job’ is no job. Most HR professionals will tell you that inspite of their effort, they are yet to develop a job description for ‘any job’. So basically, it doesn’t exist! That notwithstanding, you need to inquire from the person exactly what area they would love to work in and when this opportunity arises, find out from them if they would be interested in the same before you forward their CVs to the potential employer. I say this specifically to parents who refer their children especially for employment. That you worked a secretarial job when you were your daughter’s age and rose through the ranks to become the CEO does not mean that your daughter is also looking to start out as an office admin. For example. Maybe she wants to become a social media executive, or a content creator or something else she considers ‘fun’. Forcing that admin job on them will most likely end in premium tears. Just find out from them first if they would consider it.

To the referred, that someone is vouching for you is not an assurance that you already have the job ‘in the bag’. ‘E’ is for Effort. You must still make the effort to show up and argue out your case. Let the potential employer see your desire, interest, drive and potential value that you could add to their organization; now or in future. Your attitude when you show up for the interview will determine a lot whether you get onboarded or not. I have been part of recruitments where the client has settled on a candidate not because they were the most qualified but they showed a great attitude of wanting to learn and generally wanting to be part of that organization.

Also, you must remember that arguing you case in this scenario doesn’t mean showing up at an interview with a sad sob story, hoping that someone will take pity on you and employ you. Every potential employer is looking to see what value you bring to the organization, which may be immediate or in the long term. So you telling them the way you are desperately seeking for this job because you have not paid your rent for 4months and the landlord has threatened to throw out your things this time or that you have been going through a difficult personal relationship and would really need to secure a source of income will not motivate the recruiter to hire you. Without being disrespectful, everyone is going through something, has gone through something or something is preparing to go through them, if you didn’t know. But that’s a conversation for other forums, not the interview room. Step up and show them that you are interested and can do it if given a chance.

To those seeking to onboard potential employees through referrals, I would still advocate for it, however, do the due diligence. Just the person has been referred to you by a friend you trust doesn’t make them the right fit for the job. You must also understand that no matter how much you love your friend, when it comes down to this type of engagement, you need to maintain a work relationship with the referred. Your personal relationship with the person who referred them must never be used as leverage to get away with mediocrity by them. This will help you create a fair and respectful work environment at the workplace.

Occupational Grief

When we speak about grief most of the time, we are probably speaking about someone passing away. But have you ever experienced occupational grief? Before you answer that, tell me, have you ever been fired from a job? Worse yet, have you ever been fired without actually being fired? You woke up one morning and the proverbial rag had been dragged from right under your feet and you didn’t even see it coming?

If you now get the gist of what I’m talking about, let’s get into it. Occupational grief in this context happens when you loose your job; suddenly most of the time. We all can agree that our jobs gives us an identity and when that is taken away from you so suddenly, you are literally robbed of who you are. If you doubt this, take a moment and write down the answer to this question; Who are you? As you write down your answers, make sure you do not mention you job title, the company you work for, your level of education or the positions you hold in various other organizations and stuff like that. Then read out loudly ‘who you are’.

One moment you are a respected member of staff in an organization and then you wake up and find yourself in the streets. Literally! And now you don’t know where to start from or what to do. And before you can wrap your head around what’s going on, the few or many friends you thought you had start vanishing. Your allies at work become distant, you can feel them judging you. People start to whisper when you pass. Then there are the ones who give you the ‘woiye!’ look. You can’t trust anyone at this point and you feel alone, embarrassed, ashamed and confused. Before you know it, everything turns dark around you and you sink into depression!

Grief is something very complex and we all experience it differently. In this moment of confusion, there is always the general feeling of anger and betrayal, especially when you feel that you did everything right, but you still got ‘burnt’. I write about this because I have been here, I have felt this. I was at the ‘peak’ of my young career when one evening I was called to the boardroom and what I thought was our usual management meeting turned into a case against me. At the time, I did not even understand clearly what I was being accused of. The charges were read out and the verdict was given, ‘come for your suspension letter tomorrow’. I did not even have time to cry. It was irreconcilable. That chapter closed. Just like that! Looking back right now, that was a very pivotal moment in my life and career because it shaped a lot how I perform my work as a professional.

But how do you deal with moments like this? Truth of the matter is, in your career, you will most like experience such storms. Would it be better that you shut everyone out and just ‘handle it’? Or would you recommend therapy during this grief? How about just venting to everyone who cares to listen and getting it all out? I don’t have the right answers. What I know however is that when you get here, you will need to dig deep into your soul and figure out how to stay alive. Survival! This is a storm and the only way to get to the other side it to walk through it. Or crawl if you like, but you must move to the other side. Acceptance only comes after you have dealt with the pain that you feel, because no matter how well you pretend outwardly, when the sun goes down, the lights go off, the curtains have been shut and it is just you and yourself, the entire weight of your loss and grief remains on your shoulders. It is important to grieve that loss. Before you even start sending out your CV to potential employers, be sure that you are handling your anger, lest you carry it over to your next engagement.

Blaming everyone around you does not change the reality. Drinking yourself to death won’t either and trying to act numb will only postpone your healing. Find one or two people you can trust and talk to them, seek wise counsel, but in your own self reflection, look deeply into yourself and see what you could have done differently because this shall inform how you move forward more carefully. Then gather your strength and start over again. There is no shame in starting over. And when you do, make sure that you never get too comfortable again, because that rag can come off anytime.

So my dear lady and gentleman, if you are facing an occupational storm right now, remember that the only way to the other side is by going through that storm. Go on and do it, because time waits for no man…..or woman!