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Career Tips: How to Ask for a Job Referral

We often hear the saying, "it's not what you know; it's who you know," an idea that may ring true for many job hunters. In addition to learning and developing valuable skills, polishing your resume and preparing for job interviews, it's important to user your interpersonal skills and tap into your network of personal and professional connections when applying for a position. Getting a referral from a friend or colleague is one of the best ways to get your foot in the door at a company.

But, when asking for a job referral, it's important to think things through. Here are four tips on how to score a quality referral.

1. Utilize your resources. In the digital age, one of the best ways to figure out where your connections are is to use social media. LinkedIn allows you to see which of your contacts are associated with the companies and professionals of your interest. LinkedIn also allows you to display your professional skills and qualifications,as well asyour education and employment history so that your contacts have easy access to this information.

2. Think before you ask. When identifying an individual to reach out to, it's important to think before you ask. Does this person know you well? Are you on good terms with this person professionally and personally? Make sure their referral will be of value - if they say yes, but aren't a strong enough contact, it may result in a half-hearted referral, which won't do you much good in your job search. It's also important to be realistic, and know the power and reach of your contacts. Just because someone has ties to a company doesn't mean they can introduce you to the CEO.

3. Ask in writing. Whether you choose to reach out via a letter, an email or a message on LinkedIn, asking for a referral in writing is always best. Doing so gives the individual a chance to think things through before they give you an answer. If they feel uncomfortable providing you with a referral, it's easier to say "no" in a written response. This ensures you will get an honest answer, and therefore a more meaningful referral from the person who says "yes."

4. Be clear in your intent and provide necessary information. When asking for a referral, give a brief explanation of the job you wish to apply for, state why you think you would be a good fit, and attach a copy of your resume or a link to your profile on LinkedIn for the person to reference. Regardless of how well you know the person, don't assume they know everything about your professional background.

Professional development is an important component to look for in a college program. Bryant & Stratton College offers a variety of online degree programs that incorporate career preparation into the coursework in order to ensure that students are ready to enter the job market upon graduation. To speak with an admissions representative, call 1.800.895.1738.

Sources:
http://jobsearch.about.com/od/referrals/a/how-to-ask-for-a-referral.htm
http://msn.careerbuilder.com/Article/MSN-2926-Interviewing-How-and-whom-to-ask-for-a-referral/