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How to Use Online Employee Referral Services

7 of 12 in Series: The Essentials of Job Search Tools

Companies use online employee referral services mainly because good people tend to know other good people. Employers often rely on referral services as a way to spot great candidates. Therefore, job seekers can increase their odds of being interviewed and hired by getting employees and other “connectors” to sing their praises.

What's an online referral service?

An online referral service is an e-mail job distribution method paid for by employers. As a job seeker, an online employee referral service helps you identify which of your contacts may know people at the companies where you want to work.

A referral service may also help you request a direct referral to some employers’ hiring teams. And the service may enable you to keep tabs on jobs that you can get referred for via the people you know and the people they know.

A number of services pay a fee to referrers — company employees or trusted outsiders acting as amateur recruiters — when a hire is made. The typical fee is $500 to $3,000 or more. Some online recruiting services pay no fees to referrers.

Examples of online referral services are Jobster and H3, both of which are free for job seekers.

Getting started with online referral services

Get out your holiday-card list and directories of any group of which you’re a member — alumni, church, professional organization, environmental activist group, bowling league, and so forth. Familiarize yourself with online recruiting services that refer people to companies. Read the site’s FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) and follow directions.

The basic process of getting inside the loop of a referral system works like this:

  1. When you spot a company where you’d like to work, check your personal contact lists for the name of anyone you know who works at that company.

    Ask your contact for a referral to the job.

  2. After you have been referred, you can inquire about jobs, refer your friends, and get alerts by e-mail about jobs that interest you.

Online employee referral programs often work in tandem with online social networking technology. The programs themselves are the best information source.

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