May 4, 2021

What’s Up With Referrals Acting Entitled?

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Your bestie’s company is hiring and you got the inside track. They referred you in so it’s smooth sailing. Red carpet treatment. Expect the offer letter any day now.

Lol. That’s absolutely not how it works.

Yet…some job seekers think it is. And they act like it. And turn off everyone in the interview process.

Jeff Smith and James Hornick tee up a rant about a worst practice for job seekers in The 10 Minute Talent Rant, Episode 15, What’s Up With Referrals Acting Entitled?

Episode Transcript

The 10 minute talent rant is live. I’m James Hornick joined by Jeff Smith and we are on the clock. The 10 minute talent rant is our ongoing series where we break down things that are broken in the talent acquisition and hiring space, maybe even pitch a solution or two. Before we dig into it, remember to subscribe to Hirewell’s YouTube channel and the Talent Insights podcast to get all the episodes.

So, this week’s topic, what’s up with referrals acting entitled? And to give everyone a little background here, we’ve talked a lot about job seeking, networking, how to do informational interviews, getting in the door at places, it’s better than just kind of the apply to a million places and pray

you can get in the door. But that’s all well and good until you act a fool, which we have seen on multiple occasions it seems like recently. So Jeff, why don’t you give us, lay more context. Why don’t you give an example? I’ll try to give an examples as well too. Yeah and to preface, like when we say we, Hirewell and Careerwell, James and I, any other people that are creating content, that’s, that’s what we mean by the we.

I mean look, when we were prepping example one for me was really, it was right top of mind. I have a gentleman that I know pretty well. I wouldn’t say friends but definitely colleagues. Somebody that I’ve worked relatively closely with for a number of years, high qualified gentlemen, senior leadership type of like on the cusp of that.

That like role and just not an easy person to get in anywhere just because of like where the market is for that right now. Like as hot as the market is for like the mid to mid senior, it’s super competitive at the highest levels. And you know, I got him an intro and dude misses the first call and then

three to four minutes into actually connecting with another one of my really good colleagues, like went right into like what’s in it for me? I.e what’s the comp? What’s the equity? Like tell me how you’re going to scratch my back within like that first 15 seconds, 15, 20 seconds. It was like, Oh God.

Yeah, another common one, this is one we see, I’ve heard this story probably a million times. It’s like if someone refers somebody in, the question they get asked, so what do you know about us? What intrigues you about us? Then they were like, “Well Susie says, it’s a great place to work.”

It’s like your first answer, there’s like a assumptiveness like an obnoxious assumptiveness that you don’t need to really give good answers. You can just name drop before they’ve even decided if they want you. You could feel – people sometimes feel like they’ve got like the upper hand in this kind of scenarios and sometimes we see people who don’t do as much research as they should either before they talk to a recruiter or hiring manager.

If they ask you what you know about the company? And just saying it’s a great place to work based upon what someone else told you like you need to show that you’ve done your own research. It can’t be your main and only point and you can’t let it come across that you think that you’re just going to be able to skate through the interview process

because that really turns people off. Yeah. I mean the fair retort to that, right is do you do everything that Susie tells you to do? Right? I mean, I know it’s cliche, but cliches are there for a reason. Yeah. Look, the belief that referrals hold more weight than they actually do is kind of a fallacy.

I think that unless it’s coming from somebody that’s super highly respected within the organization or incredibly senior where they can exert a level of influence on folks that don’t know the actual individual. I don’t want to say it doesn’t hold any weight. Also, conversely don’t think it holds as much weight as to your point,

a lot of the folks in these scenarios think it does. I do think that companies have referral policies in place for a reason but that can’t be the sole differentiator between that candidate and another external candidate. And secondly, like listen, folks being a referral is not a free pass to getting to the final part of the interview process and getting an offer.

Like you’re still going to have to go through all of the process and steps that the other candidates are going through. The market is incredibly competitive and you being a referral isn’t going to give you like I said, that much of a leg up on the other candidates. If you’re not bringing your A game and showing like A why you fit the skills description of the job but also why the job is actually a good fit for you other than you know Suzy, chances are you’re not going to win.

Apologies to anybody named Susie out there because we just started using that as the cutout for this whole thing. Let’s transition to Joe. Joe, all right. So, now Joe. All right we’ll go with Joe now. So another thing you have to keep in mind, not everyone in the company might like Joe, right?

Like not everyone in the company, not every interviewer might even like your friend. We’re throwing this out as a broad example. You could be talking to someone, your friend can be in a different group but there’s just no guarantee that if you continue kind of name-dropping someone and skating on that

like yeah I’m sure that they work there. I’m sure that they don’t, it’s not all enemies but like all you need is one person in the interview process that really doesn’t think of that highly of your friend and you get the thumbs down. So I think it’s important to kind of divorce yourself from that.

And also keep in mind too, as Jeff was saying that like it’s really competitive out there right now. These companies, if they’re trying to make a high value hires a lot of times they’re working with firms like ours or they’re still working with their internal recruitment staff

and they’re asking – whether it’s they have an internal recruiters or they’re asking us, like they still want to see comparable candidates. They still want to talk to other people. They still want to hire the best person and just because you were referred in doesn’t mean you’re the best. And you still have to present yourself in a way and interview in a way where you still have to knock it out of the park and not just kind of rest on that,

so. I want to make sure that everybody understands too, first of all, great work if you’ve gotten into the process as a referral. That’s fantastic and that’s exactly what we’ve wanted you to do. But the two things that James just described, they’re not anecdotal. I want it to be really really clear that I’ve just gone through another situation in which somebody was referred and you hang your hat on that Laurel that that person is well-respected, that person got let go like

three weeks into the interview process. So even somebody who’s own internal perception, i.e the referrer can be horribly misaligned with what the reality is. So that’s number one. And number two, to your point about there being external candidates, I am constantly in conversations with my clients daily, where they have internal applicants or referrals and they are asking for a minimum of five comparable candidates because they do not want to feel like they have any regrets and they are hiring those external candidates just as frequently as they are the referrer.

Let’s talk it out, solutions left. We’ve got about 2:30 left on the clock here. So what do you got? I think it probably goes without saying but don’t be arrogant. You don’t have to like continuously name drop your person or your referrer in every conversation that you have with each person at the company. Like

the recruiter and or the hiring manager is going to sense it. It’s probably going to feel a little bit off putting and again, it’s just common sense. You don’t need to hang your hat on somebody to show your own value. I would also say, don’t make your friend look bad. You have to take it upon yourself that you need to crush this interview and you need to go above and beyond because if you don’t

you’re going to make your friend who referred you in looked like a fool. And I think if you have that mindset that it’s up to you to do your friend a solid back, like you’re going to interview better in the process. At the same time too, you also need to, as we were kind of saying before you need to realize there are some decision makers in this process who might not

really know your friend that well, maybe they work in a different division or different area but you have to focus on yourself, not fall into name-dropping, don’t bring it up again and just focus on that. Yeah. It’s actually kind of astounding that the more we’ve prepped for this and more we’ve talked about it’s crazy to think that referrals actually interview or are less prepared.

You automatically have this built in leg up, i.e. the last thing we were going to talk about solutions is use your referrer as a soundboard and a center of information so that you can kind of knock this out of the park. Like being unprepared as a referral is almost, it is worse than being unprepared as an external candidate because you literally have the leg up.

So just like do the extra work, like ask your referrer what can I do to hit this thing out of the park and chances are you’ll be better equipped. We are short on clock. So that’s a wrap for this week. Thanks again for tuning into the 10 minute talent rant. Part of the Talent Insights series, which is available for replay on Hirewell’s YouTube channel as well as the Talent Insights podcast on Apple, Google, Spotify, and Amazon.

Oh, we got about 15 seconds left. Jeff, anything else you want to say? Really? Oh I lucked out too. I felt like we were like dead on there. Well, 10 seconds. All right. Well, have a great great Wednesday folks. Goodnight, Canada.

Episode 43

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