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Why referrals are like picking a restaurant for date night

Posted on 16/01/2020
by Nick Boulton

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You’re looking to take that special someone out on a date and you really want to put on a show. You get gussied up in your finest threads, slick your hair back, and ensure you shave without nicking anything. You want to go somewhere worth the effort – perhaps somewhere new?

But how do you pick? Do you throw caution into the wind and trust Google’s reviews? Trust a recommendation in Time Out?

Or what about that place your friend wouldn’t shut up about? The best food, the best atmosphere, the best service?

Chances are you’re going to take your mate’s advice. (Because if it’s a blowout, you can at least take the proverbial out of them afterwards…)

The same can be said for job hunting. The UK’s tech scene is sustained by networks – pardon the pun. There are dozens of meetups, sub-reddits, WhatsApp groups and more in London where techies are talking shop. If a software dev is looking for a job, they’ll turn to their network for help and advice.  

With the recruitment market saturated in consultants hitting people up on LinkedIn, poorly-written adverts everywhere (often just copied and pasted) and slapdash attempts to “headhunt” candidates, it’s become difficult to find and attract the best talent.

But if you want to become a top consultant, hunting down quality candidates, sourcing the best people for your clients and ultimately earning yourself the most money, you need to master the art of the referral.

Put it simply, when a techie is looking for a job, you want their mates to tell you first.  

The best consultants understand the value of growing and maintaining an extensive network of meaningful connections. There is little doubt that a quality referral will increase the speed at which a candidate is hired and the ROI on referrals is tenfold any other candidate source.

And here’s the secret to getting good referrals: you ask for them. You just ask for them.

If you have not landed a referral up to this point, it’s probably because you haven’t:

  1. Asked enough people
  2. Asked enough people
  3. Asked enough people – or
  4. You have not asked in the right way

When you’ve had a meaningful conversation with a candidate, in whatever situation, just ask if they know anyone looking for a new job. You can sprinkle a little flattery to get things moving – good developers know other good developers after all.

But this is a give a little, get a little world. Unless you have given them something – quality service or imparted valuable information – you’re highly unlikely to be successful when asking for a referral.

So let’s assume you now ask all of the candidates you speak to. Congratulations, young grasshopper, you’re almost there. Now it’s a question of following through.

Very rarely do people know if colleagues, peers or friends are open to looking for a new job. But I bet if you asked them who the best team lead, manager, graduate or developer they worked with at their organisation, they’d all be able to list them no problem.

Just be smart, it’s so worth it and you increase you chances of making a placement beyond recognition. You eliminate the competition, gain control of the situation and can provide a far better service to candidate and client alike.

There is a distinct synergy which exists between what works best for employers and what benefits job seekers. Clients listen to trusted sources and if you have a good relationship with them, qualified candidates that come recommended will gain an immediate edge over others who have just applied for the same position. 

If it works for date night, it’ll work here.

Photo: Freepik.com


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