The hiring process is hard enough, but technology candidates can make things easier for themselves with strong, up to date referrals and recommendations. This article will talk about the importance of both recommendations and referrals in your career search. The number one reason technology professionals don’t seek out referrals and recommendations is the awkwardness of asking for them, but not doing so puts you behind the eight ball. Let’s get right to it.

Why are referrals necessary?
These days, many technology candidates are in the process of looking for their next career opportunity. Where will it come from? Will a technology staffing firm be reaching out to you with the perfect role? Will someone reach out to you from LinkedIn? There are many ways to land your next position, but referrals are the absolute best. Everyone you have worked with directly and anyone who has seen your work is a strong candidate for a referral. A referral generally comes in the form of a previous colleague or co-worker, making an introduction to someone they know with the goal that you may be able to help one another. But, why is that not happening for you right now? The reason is that referrals, traditionally, require one thing that many technology candidates do not do…ask for the referral.

Asking for a referral can feel awkward, but nothing is embarrassing about it. If you’ve consistently done quality work, shown your professionalism, and been a collaborative part of the team, there’s no reason not to ask for a referral. All it takes to get referrals is to ask a simple question, “I am looking to make a career move and want to know what companies you think I should target and if you know anyone you would refer me to?” We all know someone we can refer to others, and the only thing stopping us from doing it is being asked. Remove the awkwardness from your head and just ask the question. Over 75% of the time, if you have been the kind of employee I referenced above, the people you ask are more than willing to refer you to their colleagues and friends.

Think of what that referral looks like. Olivia (the java developer) reaches out to a contact of her past (Kerri) and asks for the referral as described. Kerri responds, “Absolutely. I actually have a good friend (Jordan) who runs application development at XYZ Corp, the nation’s leading vaccine development company. I don’t know if Jordan is looking for someone, but I’m happy to reach out.” Olivia responds, “Would you mind copying me on the email you send Jordan, and that way I can follow up without bothering you?” Kerri says, “Sure, happy to do it. But don’t embarrass me.” The email goes out, Olivia follows up with Jordan, and Jordan happens to be looking for a java developer. When they get on the phone for a quick phone screen (by video), they spend a good amount of time talking about Kerri, and then Jordan says, “Well, if Kerri thinks so highly of you, then I would be silly not to have you interview with our team. How is Tuesday at 2pm?

While this is oversimplified, it is pretty much how the conversation goes. Referrals make the world go ‘round and help make your technology career move in the direction of your choice.

Why are recommendations so important?
Recommendations exist in many forms. There is a recommendation letter that you should get from past employers and/or colleagues. There is the recommendation we ask for through LinkedIn to go on our profile. There is the recommendation that we ask people to do through a phone call with our soon to be employer. There are many others, but here are a few examples.

Employers want to see what past employers and colleagues have to say about you. Were you a punctual co-worker? Were you collaborative with your peers? Are you a hard worker? Do you work with a clear and understandable process? Are you high strung? All of these make it into our recommendations and provide insight to future employers about you. The good news is that you get to select what you actually use with potential employers. If recommendations demonstrate your credibility, then you should have as many as possible.

How do you get recommendations? This is very similar to asking for a referral. Let’s begin with LinkedIn. Simply go to your profile and scroll down to the Recommendations section. Once there, you’ll see “Ask for a recommendation” in the right corner. Click on it and select who you want to ask, answer for which position, and any other basic questions, and that’s it. The person you have chosen will get a LinkedIn email saying that you are seeking a recommendation and they will complete it. Once they complete it, it will come to you for review and decide if you want to use it on your LinkedIn.

technology careers

Asking for a recommendation from past employers and colleagues is very easy and expected. You should offer to do the same for anyone that asks you. It is a good practice to think ahead when you are starting your job search, to contact the people you will eventually be listing as a reference, to make sure that they are OK providing a reference and getting their current contact information – you don’t want to be scrambling for these references at the last minute. However, asking for a referral of a current employer will look like you are looking for a new position, so be careful with asking current employers for a recommendation. Truthfulness is always the key to a good recommendation, so be sure not to exaggerate. Recommendations are an important aspect of finding your next technology career opportunity, so let’s get to work! And don’t forget to say thank you!!

About Benchmark IT –Technology Talent
Benchmark IT –Technology Talent offers IT consulting, executive search, and direct hire recruitment and staffing services throughout the metro New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area. Established in 2007, its proprietary recruitment process and dedication to precision, ethics, and personalized service have made them a trusted partner among Fortune-ranked companies, mid-market, start-ups, and growth-phase firms in the Tri-State area. For additional information, visit www.bmarkits.com

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