I’ve heard many times about the importance of getting a referral when applying to a job, but I never truly realized the power of referrals until one day.
On Monday at around 3 a.m., I was applying to a specialist role in the publications department at a company that I used to intern for. Well, in my cover letter, I mentioned that I had worked under the executive editor and that I was excited to come back and work at the company. I submit my application and went to sleep.
Fast forward a few hours later, I woke up to an email from the recruiter! I have never seen such a fast response to a job application before! In the past, it would take at least 2-3 weeks before I hear back from a recruiter. After some emailing back and forth, I was able to schedule a phone screening interview with the recruiter on Wednesday of the same week.
On Wednesday, I did the phone screening interview with the recruiter. And that’s when the recruiter told me that I was actually a bit late in the interviewing process, but because I used to intern at the company before, they wanted to get me in as fast as possible.
That’s when I knew the power of a referral. That’s when I realized my internship was for naught.
Adding Something Extra to Set Myself Apart
After the phone interview, the recruiter told me that she would get back to me by the end of the day or tomorrow. But I knew I really wanted that job and I needed to do something to set myself apart from the rest of the applicants. So what did I do?
I opened a word doc, listed out all the projects that I did when I was interning, making sure to cross-reference anything I can between the job application and my internship. For example, since this was a position within the publications department, I wrote down the names of the main publications that I worked on so the hiring manager knows that I have experience.
According to the phone interview and the job description, the hiring manager really wanted someone who would be able to juggle multiple projects and eager to learn new things.
With the letter of accomplishments done, I sent an email to the recruiter. Feel free to use the example below as a template (note that names have been changed for privacy reasons):
Thank you for getting on the phone with me to do a phone screening interview. If you are interested, here is a list of projects that I was involved with when I interned under Heather. Have a great rest of your week.
That afternoon, around 3:41 p.m., the recruiter sent me an email to schedule a one-hour interview with me. Fast forward to today, I’m still working at the same company but the whole interview process from initial application to hiring took a span of two weeks. Two weeks later I started as a full-time employee at the company.
In the span of a month, I went from unemployed to full-time employee.
The lesson from this story is to say that if you have a referral, start there. If you don’t have anyone, see if you have any connections who can hook you up with someone from the company that you want to work at because referrals will get you through the door like that *snaps fingers.