4.05.2013

Referrals Versus Skills

I recently wrote a blog post on Diversity in the Workplace, and took a stance against the "old boys" mentality in favor of expansive workplace diversity. However, there's something to be said "for" the intense focus many hiring managers and HR professionals are placing on internal referrals. Here's a second post in the same vein, where I explore the benefits of referrals.

Some companies implement a reward program for successful internal referrals--when a current employee learns about an opening within the company and recommends a particular individual within their personal or professional network for the role.

The referral system is incredibly useful when it comes to matching new employees to the existing corporate culture and rigorous demands of the workload. Someone who already works in that department or elsewhere within the company can attest to the type of culture and workload a new employee will likely encounter in a new job there.

In these cases, the company acquires an experienced hire with the needed skill set and soft skills required to fit into the company and the position. The company, as a consequence, experiences much less time and resource investment to hit the ground running with the new hire. There is less pressure/need to provide the new employee intense orientation to the corporate culture and particular role they'll be playing.

Many instances exist where an employee understands the unwritten intricacies of a particular position and is able to recommend someone who is capable, even when the job description being used by the recruiter does not include these subtleties explicitly.

A very large portion of available positions are not externally advertised in job search engines or databases. These job openings are only known about by current employees and the hiring mangers. Sometimes, this is the first step in recruiting, then if no viable candidates emerge, then the position is advertised more broadly.

These benefits to internal referrals , and their relevance in today's job market, are what makes having a solid personal and professional network so important. Not only can happily employed individuals help their unemployed friends and colleagues, but those who are unemployed or unhappily employed can send out feelers and have that useful connection or "in" so they are made aware of good potential matches prior to the position being broadcast publicly.

Not only are skill sets required for positions, but soft skills and success in networking and establishing working relationships with a wide array of individuals express that higher level of understanding of how the marketplace and business world works.

Therefore, there is added value in establishing open, honest rapport with one's colleagues and connections. There must be trust, full disclosure, and periodic opportunities to network actively with one another. It's with this level of disclosure and openness that the right people can be matched with the right types of positions.

Getting into these sorts of networks is a task that's best accomplished a little at a time. Identify role models and mentors, and pursue and expand your connections from there. Make sure you establish a solid personal and professional relationship, not just a relationship of convenience.

Networking has been dimmed by disdain: some people employ casual networking techniques focused on self-interest. Professionals, especially on sites like LinkedIn, feel they're overly exposed to self-serving individuals who only reach out when they need something, or keep the channels of communication open when there is no real-time, in-person relationship building whatsoever. It leaves some professionals bitter with disappointment at the incessant marketing and interruptions. Therefore, it's very important to set boundaries where they are needed, while opening doors where possible.

See, there's always at least two sides to every coin ;o)