All posts tagged: referrals

Dear Hiring Manager: An Open Letter

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Dear Hiring Manager,

I understand that you’re busy. Probably more than ever since your company has likely remained lean following the Great Recession. That’s why I’m suggesting you take on an important task. One that may seem counterintuitive. Your company needs your help generating candidate referrals to fill your jobs.

You may be thinking, “This so-called hiring expert has lost his mind. I’ve already got a full calendar and a desk loaded with work.” A recent story about restaurant chain Cracker Barrel demonstrates why helping with referrals is in your best interest.

Cracker Barrel is known for it’s innovative marketing approaches. One of these has included managers picking random people from the local phonebook and inviting them to a new Cracker Barrel for a home-cooked meal on the house. As the company puts it, “Two weeks later, business picked up. All over town, people were talking about the new restaurant near the interstate and the manager who was calling people to invite them over for dinner.” 

So, how does this Cracker Barrel example relate to generating job candidate referrals? Being invited by a restaurant manager for a free meal is a welcome surprise. Being contacted about career opportunities is a welcome surprise and an ego boost. When you personally reach out to a potential job candidate, you’re sending a message. You’re saying, “You matter. I value you and your background.” You’re also showing people that your company and leadership style are different and attractive.

Why is this important? You have tremendous power. You have a network of colleagues who may fit current (or future) job openings. This same group of contacts can introduce you to dozens of additional people who could also fit your hiring needs.

Now, you may be thinking, “Our corporate recruiter or someone in HR could do this just as easily as I can.” No offense to them, but they cannot. You have something they don’t—shared experience. You have much in common with that prospective job candidate. You talk their talk and understand what they go through each day. This gives you immediate credibility and helps engender trust. A recruiter or HR can help you move things forward following your initial dialogue with someone. But only after you’ve built rapport and captured the candidate’s interest.

Generating referrals now, even if you don’t have any open jobs, will save you time. This part may seem surprising. However, think about what happens when a job opens. Most managers engage in the old way of hiring—keeping a job open until the right person shows up. That means they have to do their own job, handle or delegate the workload of the open position, and conduct interviews to fill that opening. Is it any wonder so many leaders are exhausted and overwhelmed?

When you engage in the new way of hiring—cultivating talented people and waiting for the right job to show up—the exhaustion and overwhelm go away. Spending 20 minutes a week reaching out to talented people helps keep hiring manageable.

So, help your company help you. Set aside a small chunk of time weekly to cultivate referrals. Use these referrals to line up people before you need them. Engage in the new way of hiring and make hiring delays a thing of the past.

Sincerely yours,

Scott Wintrip

Scott WintripDear Hiring Manager: An Open Letter
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Five Tips to Network for Top Talent

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Word of mouth is a powerful way to find great talent and fill open positions. It’s also often overlooked. Why? Because people forget to ask for this help. Plus, they don’t realize the potency of this stream of talent.

Just how potent are referrals? In reviewing the hiring practices of 70 companies last year, there was a pattern. Those whose employees at all levels of the organization networked for referrals filled their jobs four times faster than those that did not.

Tip #1: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If there’s a “magic bullet” for effective networking and getting quality referrals, it’s this: just ask for help.

Simply telling someone that you need help—even saying the word itself—creates an important dynamic. It’s human nature for us to help one another. When you use the word “help,” you’re reminding the person you’re asking of your shared humanity. This simple approach often paves the way for people to be generous in pointing you in the right direction.

Tip #2: Realize a little goes a long way.
Investing a few minutes each day in referral recon pays off in dividends. And it’s easy; it doesn’t even feel like work.

When a vendor stops by, ask for their help with referrals; at the local office supply store or that restaurant where you’re having lunch, network with the employees you meet; a phone call to a friend could turn into two or three candidate referrals. Small, quick inquiries such as these can turn into big wins when you find a great person to hire.

Tip #3: Get specific with qualities you’re looking for.
Don’t just ask your contacts for referrals to people who are looking for a job. Ask for referrals to the specific type of person you want to hire.

For example, if you’re looking for a store manager, you might say, “Who do you know that is good at managing a retail store? I’m looking especially for someone who listens more than they speak.” This precision helps the person you’re asking thoroughly “search” their mental Rolodex for the right person amongst the hundreds of people they know.

Tip #4: Don’t forget to ask your “obvious” networks for referrals.
How often do you ask current employees for their help with candidate referrals? What about their family members, or the previous employees who left your organization on good terms? Have you asked your own family and friends to put you in touch with referrals they know?

It’s easy to overlook the obvious resources for strong referrals. This oversight comes at a cost. We’re likely missing out on the insight of the very people who are most likely to want to help us.”

Tip #5: Remember the most important “rule” to attracting great talent.
The best attractor of top talent isn’t high salary or fancy titles; it’s being a great place to work. Make sure your organization has a positive and engaging environment and you’ll develop a reputation as an enjoyable place to work. Then when you network and request referrals, the people you ask will go out of their way to refer their friends and colleagues to you.

Reaching out to the people you meet—as well as those you already know—can connect you with impressive talent. Make referral generation a regular part of your tasks, whether you’re the CEO or in a staff-level role. Before you know it, you’ll realize that good people are easier to find.

Scott WintripFive Tips to Network for Top Talent
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Is the Stink What You Think? — Scott’s Sales Yoga Thought for the Day

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I’ve heard it said you are what you eat, which, if true, makes me a vegetable since I eat so many! While I get the concept of our bodies being impacted by what we put in them, what deserves just as much attention is something equally important — what we put in our heads.

Persistent thoughts become pervasive beliefs and some of these reek of inaccurate assumptions and dangerous misinformation. For example, recruiters often think there is a waiting period before you can ask a new candidate for referrals, and salespeople frequently tell themselves that prospects aren’t willing to engage in detailed conversations. When did it become our job to set boundaries for other people?

Scientists have proven that humans are programmed to help one another, so, soliciting referrals from everyone, including new candidates, in the very first conversation allows them to be who they were built to be. People love to hear the sound of their own voice, thus, lengthy and thorough conversations that allow prospective buyers to be thoroughly heard is the norm, not the exception.

An unrelenting belief that people will freely provide you with the time and information you need to be masterful in your job makes much more sense than self-defeating beliefs that are cancerous lesions to your psyche. Sales Yogi’s, people who practice a more collaborative style of selling, know that whatever you believe is exactly what you shall receive.

Scott WintripIs the Stink What You Think? — Scott’s Sales Yoga Thought for the Day
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Expect Referrals

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The staffing and recruiting profession is blessed with a number of tools for finding and attracting quality candidates.  The Internet, social media, telephones, ads in newspapers and magazines, and job fairs are just some of the avenues available to connect us with people in today’s marketplace.  What all of these have in common is that they put you in touch with people who know other people.  As a result, you might think that most recruiters get lots of referrals.

In polling recruiters over the past few years, I was startled to discover that most indicated that they receive candidate referrals from the people they connect with less than 20% of the time.  When asked why, the majority of these recruiters indicated they simply do not ask for referrals as often as they could.

Getting referrals has been an integral part of our business since its inception. It is my belief that the main cause for not getting referrals is that many recruiters have simply gotten out of the consistent practice of asking. In all of the seminars I conducted this year, the overall consensus of each audience is that the problem lies in poor habits and not in people being unwilling to help.

If you have any doubts that asking for and receiving referrals is a natural part of our business, then check out the following five truths about referrals:

1.  It is human nature to help others.
Most people take pleasure in helping others.  The generous outpouring of support after the earthquake in Haiti or the simple act of opening a door for someone are just a few examples of our common compulsion to offer help.

2.  Everyone knows at least 250 people.
In his book, “How to Sell Anything to Anybody,” Joe Girard shows us that each person knows at least 250 people.  His proof: 250 or more people is the average attendance at weddings and funerals.

3.  Most people take great pride in who they know.
Name-dropping is common in conversations.  The key in referrals is to get people to drop names your way.

4.  You can get something, at least one thing, out of most conversations.
Referrals, leads on current openings, or information on a company that is downsizing are just a few tidbits you can gain from a dialogue.  Everyone you connect with knows something that could be helpful to you.

5.  Everyone is an expert at asking for referrals.
Whether it is a referral to a doctor or a tip on a good restaurant, requesting referrals is a normal part of everyday life.

Based upon these truths, the key to getting more referrals is to believe you deserve them and then ask for what you deserve.  An easy way to remember this is to “ask early and ask always.”  Ask each and every person you connect with a question such as “Who do you  recommend I speak with about this opportunity?”

For those of you who are asking, “Isn’t asking everyone I talk with being pushy,” that is a choice that you can make.  You can be a pushy recruiter who does not take no for answer.  Or you can ask each person you speak with for what you need in a very nice way.  Whoever coined the phrase “it doesn’t hurt to ask” rings true when asking for referrals.

My challenge to you is to start asking for referrals from everyone.  Just like the muscles in our arms and legs, your referral muscle will get stronger and work more effortlessly the more you use it.

Scott WintripExpect Referrals
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