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.

  • Dr Lucy Ochieng says:

    This is interesting. I can comment on parents referring their adult children to work. The parent may have a felt need for the child while the child might not have the urgency to start working leading to mediocre performance. I think referrals work best if the person seeking employment has an internal locus of control and drives the process.

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