Recruitment for early-stage talented professionals explained: Part 2. Power of referrals

This is a series of 3 short articles, throughout those we explain the application tracking system, adding value vs nepotism, why do people respond and help when you are junior and are looking for job placement.

This material will be relevant to early-stage professionals and hiring managers. For experienced professionals - a separate article will be released later in 2020.

Before we elaborate on the power of referrals, it is important to make first a distinction between the practice of add value referrals and nepotism, two terms that some people are confused about.


Nepotism is “the practise among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs”, common definition by Wikipedia. Nepotism might bot be bad when there are two elements in place: relatives and friends are qualified to carry the job, there is sound corporate governance in place to prevent turning business into a wobbly environment of personal commitments. In the absence of these two elements, nepotism is evil for both - the wider pool of talent and organization itself. With that, in some instances, nepotism is seen as inevitable, when for instance an international company expands to the faraway markets and in order to build relationships with local elites such biased hiring helps organizations to establish themselves on the ground.


Connection and referral - exactly in this order is the most powerful and working instrument in the pocket of a job seeker (and the business itself). I continue repeating that the early stage of your career is the best time to reach out to experienced professionals working in the same industry, companies you see your nearest future with. This connection will give you:


  • A unique glimpse into company business. Sometimes such uniqueness could be the fact that there is no such magic in it. For instance, for aspired investment bankers there is an image of amply glamorous deal closures, wins celebrations at the best boutique bars, in reality, it is a day in - day out of a spreadsheet rolling and number crunching, with pizza delivery, included - that is a part of the journey, part of the game you are signing up for. For a person interested in joining amazing Instagram-to-be tech startup it is about fantasizing of an amazing team surrounding you day and night with who you lead the company to a successful IPO - in reality, you might find founders being completely overwhelmed with the next fundraising round and barely communicate with young new joiners and then in a matter of half a year things go sour and you start looking for a new job. The point here is not to scare you, on the opposite, being outside the system (in this case, company) and through conversations with its employees you are less biased to it than when you are already working there.


  • A proven way to validate the company's culture locally. Here we speak of multinational employers. What’s the trick with those? The potential difference between HQ (defining its international brand) and their local offices spread across the world. HR can be based anywhere (with that the list of Top Attractive Employers are the global brands headquartered in the US). Let’s say you aspire to work for the best Legal firm. Yet the reality of their local office (especially in emerging markets) could be a quite different corporate culture compared to what you’ve read about their head office. Because it is driven by management personalities of a specific office. You can buy in a global brand, but then through interaction with people on the ground, you validate your assumption.


  • An opportunity to get an offer from that company. The person who interacts with you, and who sees value in your character and competencies will create such an opportunity for you within his company or other companies where he could recommend you to.


If you have questions about WHY a person working for a company responds to a connection and referral request, or if you are you the one and you wonder WHY you should do that - Read Part 3 of this series.


If you would like to learn how to structure your connection message and how to conduct an introduction meeting (phone / zoom call) - go to Section 2 of Youth Career Guide.

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© 2020 by Natalia Sycheva