It’s easy to only approach your career search from one’s own perspective --- how many applications have been filled out, how many resumes were emailed, how many cover letters that have been sent. What’s often forgotten in that process is what happens to those applications, resumes, and cover letters once they’re submitted. They eventually land somewhere, and that place on the desk of a Hiring Manager.

The Hiring Manager is the person in charge of a job search and selecting the right person for a role. Sometimes the first person to review applications is someone whose ONLY job is to find the perfect person to fill a position, like a recruiter or talent specialist. In the next phase of the process, the person in-charge of hiring is a manager on an office staff trying to make the best decision possible for the future of her team. It’s important to understand that Hiring Managers are people with their own work and tasks and responsibilities on top of those duties that exist when trying to hire someone new. 

It’s often underappreciated until having the experience of hiring someone, but recruiting a new team member is hard work. The hiring process is time consuming and some serious work including writing a job description, screening applications, resumes, and cover letters. Then the work shifts to scheduling interviews, first on the phone or via teleconference then in-person. That’s just a quick summary of everything that goes into hiring a new team member. 

And make no mistake, hiring the wrong person can be catastrophic. At best, hiring the wrong person means starting the recruitment process all over again. But even worse, if a hiring manager makes a poor decision on their new recruit and things get tumultuous at the office, the wrong hiring decision could cost them their job. 

That’s why Hiring Managers will almost always turn to people they know and trust and say, “Who do you know that would be good for this position?” They’re trying to make the best decision possible in the shortest amount of time, so they turn to the colleagues they trust for referrals.

That’s why the old adage of, “It’s all about who you know” isn’t quite right. It’s about “who knows you” and who is willing to refer you to open positions. Landing a great job is all about making connections with people who may be willing to offer a referral to the right people when the right opportunities arise. 

A successful strategy to get a great job is all about referrals -- having someone who, when they're asked the question, “Who do you know?” will say your name. That’s it. That’s how most hiring goes down. That’s why Longwood alumni are so important. They want to help Longwood students and other alumni be successful and are a great resource when it comes to referrals.

All applicants for open job positions apply for the job through an organization’s website, but it’s those people that receive referrals for those positions that are most likely to be interviewed and ultimately hired. 

Moreover, there are different levels of referrals ranging from, “I spoke with them before about their goals” to “I’ve seen some of their work on LinkedIn” to “I know their work well and trust them implicitly.” While the last statement reflects the best case, even the first one can make a meaningful difference when it comes to getting an opportunity to interview for a role.

As students and alumni are working to land a great job, the object is not to apply for as many roles as possible. Yes, all roles require applications. However, having a strategy for obtaining referrals is what ultimately leads to most hires. As much as 70-80% of the time, Hiring Managers make decisions on new team members based on referrals from those they trust.

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