Executive Resumes, Personal Branding & Executive Job Search

How to Get an Employee Referral

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

May 6, 2015 9:13:37 AM




OK, in my previous blog post I noted that employee referrals are the #1 source of hire in corporate America. This statistic comes out of CareerXroads Source of Hire Study for 2014. That means leveraging employee referrals is better than depending on recruiters to find your a job, applying to jobs on big job boards, or using specialty services like Execunet or Netshare.

Everyone knows that “networking” has always been the best way to get hired. “Employee referrals” is just a subcategory of “networking.” The BEST subcategory. It involves very deliberately networking with select employees who work for the company posting the job you are targeting.

If you know the contact, you can naturally get in touch with them and open up a conversation. But what if you don’t know them? Does that mean you have to give up on getting an employee referral? Not necessarily. If they are a connection on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter you may well be able to tap into them as a resource.

Why would a networking contact on LinkedIn (LI) or social media be interested in referring you if they don't know you? Many companies offer monetary rewards to employees who refer a candidate who ultimately gets hired. The reason employers are willing to pay for referrals is that hiring this way results in high-quality hires who are more likely to do well in the company culture. Using company employees as sources also is more cost-effective.

So how exactly do you go about introducing yourself to someone who is unknown to you or who is a relative stranger on one of your social media sites? You probably don’t want to just email them with a request like, “Hi! I’m a VP of Sales for the Americas at one of your competitors, can you refer me for the job of Global VP of Sales your company just posted?” It’s a little too abrupt and doesn’t give the employee much information to help build her confidence in you as a candidate.

Try an engaging, respectful approach like this: “Hi, I see that we are third-degree connections on LinkedIn. In fact we both know [Bill Jones]. He’s a great guy – we worked together back at [Raytheon]. I wanted to introduce myself to you because I’m interested in applying for the open job [Lockheed Martin] just posted. And I wonder if you could take a look at my resume and tell me if you think my background looks interesting for the job. I’d welcome any advice you may have, either by email or in a brief 5-minute phone call.”

If you get a positive response from this employee, thank them. If you feel the general reaction was positive, you might then ask, “ Do you feel that you have a good enough sense of my background to refer me to the CEO (or whoever would be the hiring manager for the job)? If the answer is in the affirmative, then express your appreciation and email your resume, having incorporated any valuable suggestions. Remember, as always, to tailor the resume to the job and industry, including keywords.

Once the resume hand-off is achieved, make sure to write a thank-you email and extend an offer to help the employee in any future situation where they might want a referral. These last steps are very important! They align with the basic rule of all good networking: Givers Gain.

Why use this time-intensive, relationship-building route when just firing off a resume to a posted job ad is so quick and easy?

Because candidates who come in via employee referrals have a one in 10 chance of ultimately getting hired. With job boards it can be more like one in 100 or one in 1000. Which odds do you prefer?

If, when you approach a new contact with this method you don’t get a response, try again with another employee. Be persistent and take advantage of the #1 Source of HIre in corporate America. Get a touchdown! 🏈

Jean Cummings



Topics: job search, executive search, branded executive resume, career marketing, job interview, employment trends

Tech Job Search: "Software is Eating the World" - and Your Job?

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Jun 3, 2013 8:11:00 AM

Tech job search: impact of cloud computing
Quoting Teshma Sohoni (Fast Company Ap 2013), "Software is indeed eating the world as...industries are adopting SaaS/cloud faster than ever." He goes on to state that startups are targeting both niche and large industries with custom solutions.

For tech job seekers, whenever there's a disruptive trend, new types of jobs will never be far behind. These startups, in addition to established service providers, will be expanding their services and markets and in need of skilled tech workers. However, there's been a perceived downside for technology professionals in the trend to SaaS/cloud:

"What will happen to my job when my IT Dept. increasingly oursources both applications and infrastructure that have traditionally been under the control of the internal IT shop?"

Contrary to the fears that SaaS/cloud would decimate IT departments, it appears that tech jobs are still around but rapidly adapting and changing to service the new landscape. How will this trend affect you in your job search and career? Forbes addresses this question in their article, "The Great Cloud-induced Job Implosion That Never Happened," in reference to the Deloitte study published in the Wall Street Journal:

"If anything, cloud computing is increasing complexity and workloads, creating more demand for IT skills."

But the skills needed for current and future IT jobs will need to be actively cultivated in order for IT professionals to stay relevant. Oddly enough, we're not talking about mastery of new languages or technologies here as much as learning to interface effectively with internal business customers, vendor staff, and external customers.

In addition, new types of competencies are growing in importance:

"Deloitte reports that rather than diminish in-house IT departments, it is generating more “value-added” activities such as 'high-end software development, business analytics, enterprise architecture, and strategic vendor relationship management.'"

We have discussed in this space before how IT professionals are increasingly expected to be business savvy. The sought-after hires will be those who are attuned to leveraging IT to add value to the business.

Specifically, in three companies, here are examples of how certain jobs are morphing:

Programmers/coders to.....Application Developers, Technical Analysts

IT Staff to.....Business Analyst, Architects

IT Staff who maintained/fixed apps to.....Teachers/mentors/trainers supporting end-users in the use of new cloud/SaaS services

Where do you see possibilities for your career in these changes? I'd love to hear!



Topics: career management, career planning, executive job search, branded executive resume, career marketing, SaaS jobs, Cloud jobs

Why Today's Resume Needs To Be An Ad

Posted by Tyrone Norwood

Nov 12, 2012 4:41:00 PM

Image ad toyota corona sedan ad 2 67

Why the resume as ad? To borrow a phrase from the campaign, do the math!

  • 141 resumes submitted for each job (way too low an estimate IMHO)
  • Each recruiter manages ~22 openings at any one time (multiply times 141 for the number of resumes a recruiter has to process at any one time)
  • Only slightly more than a quarter of recruiters use applicant tracking technology; the rest have to visually scan resumes
  • Only 10 applicants on average are screened for a position *

So, do you think the thoughtful summary, job descriptions, and accomplishments on your resume are going to get read and that the material will prompt the recruiter to choose yours out of hundreds to be one of the 10 marked for follow up?? 

Here’s what I think, having been in the resume writing industry for 19 years now. Today’s resume – which has only 30 seconds to be reviewed by a recruiter – has to act like an ad. Look at an ad. What are some of the elements that make it work?

  • A brand - something that makes it memorable, the way Coke's brand helps it compete against Pepsi and generic colas
  • A tagline - to capture the essence or strong theme of the brand
  • Large letters to help the main message stand out, with smaller letters and fine print for critical details
  • A website to link to for more information on the product
  • A quote from someone or a picture of a famous endorser for the product
  • Color - eye-catching
  • Unique design and font - an ad tries to attract visual interest

It is possible, and even desirable, for resume writers to amp up their resumes with some of these elements. One way a resume should be different from an ad, though, is that white space, although necessary, shouldn't own so much real estate that there is no room for descriptions of primary accomplishments for each position.

(Please note: only a stripped down .txt version of your resume should be submitted where there is a chance that it will be processed by an Applicant Tracking System. Use your highly formatted resume for human eyes!)

With those points noted, let’s take an ad's elements one at a time and consider how you would build some of its successful features into your resume:

  • The brand you are looking for is your career brand/personal brand. It is your industry, function, value proposition, and differentiator(s).
  • A tagline is a short phrase that serves as a quick handle for people to remember you by: “The technologist’s instructional designer.”
  • Large letters: go for size 16-18 font for your desired position as the “title” of your resume and 14-16 for your brand and tagline.
  • A website link, or LinkedIn profile if you don’t have a resume – with a link embedded in the text towards the top of page one.
  • A quote from relevant third party to lend credibility, if you wish.
  • Color! Since most resumes are viewed online (laptop, smart phone, tablet), any color you select will help that part of the text stand out; use it for your brand statement and perhaps the main contribution in each position.
  • Font. Again, because most resumes are viewed online, you can be creative with fonts, design, and other visual elements, remembering to be more conservative for more conservative industries, such as banking, and more creative in marketing, design etc.

Click here to see examples of resumes that are a fast read with easy-to-grasp "reasons to hire." These are not extreme examples of the resume-as-ad and don't include every element of an ad, but they have enough to have attracted the interest of recruiters.

So don't hesitate to tap into the power of Madison Avenue to help your resume become one of the 10 selected by a recruiter for follow-up!

* Image attribution: Dell

** Statistics courtesy of HR Tech Blog


Topics: career marketing, resume, resumes, resume format, color on resumes

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Tyrone Norwood