How do Job Referrals work?

Aakash Dhoundiyal
4 min readApr 26, 2021

You’re looking for a job. You came across an impressive profile on LinkedIn and now you are about to ask the person to refer you. This often sounds simple and possible, but most of the times we all can agree, that it’s challenging.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes, things are simple, it’s just our understanding that adds up to our struggles. So, cutting the story short, this can guide you to increase your chances of getting a referral by messaging someone, particularly on LinkedIn.

I have been reached out by thousands for referrals and tips and tricks for McKinsey. I have referred potential candidates as well. Unfortunately, I struggle referring everyone, as there is a threshold for that and sadly I feel it difficult to go through each message. But there are times, when people reach out to you in ways, in which you cannot just stop yourself referring them. So, this blog would be around everything that comes under best practices one should follow for, Referrals!

As a presumption, this information assumes that you are suitable for the role for which you’re seeking a referral. One should make sure that they’ve gone thoroughly through the job description and are genuinely eligible for it.

Reading the job description thoroughly is important and one should apply only if they satisfy the criteria. This approach is both professionally and morally, right.

Additionally, one should know people are busy. Everyone has their own journey. Respect their time. There is a high probability that most of these people get tons of messages on LinkedIn. You certainly would not wish your message to be ignored among the other messages of the lot.

So here, I am sharing the three steps to getting a successful referral through LinkedIn:

  • Finding/Reaching out to the right person
  • Sending the right message/query
  • Follow ups

| Whom should you send the message?

  • This is the starting step. You must find people who are working in your target company. For example, if you are targeting Amazon, find someone who works there, it is as simple as that.
  • Secondly, always prefer people who are working in the same industry/domain, where you are planning to make a career in. For e.g. if you’re a business analyst, it is better to ask a business analyst to refer you for the suitable available position in their firm. They can assist you better based on your resume and your skills, if and when compared with someone who isn’t working in that domain.
  • As LinkedIn itself is a product and one have to pay to use services beyond a set threshold, it should be used wisely. LinkedIn only allows you to send messages to a limited number of people. So, one should prefer reaching out to people who’ve been active on the platform in the past. The timeline for this could vary, for example, try looking out for people who are active every week and have activity traction on their profile. Here, activity could be a like, or a comment, or a post, or a shared post. Following this, you can increase your chances to reach out to potential connections.

| What should you send in the message?

There are some DO’s and DON’T’s to this approach.

  • Always avoid small talk and be concise with your concerns. Avoid dropping a “Hi/Hey” as a message and wait for the other person to respond back to continue the conversation.
  • Help the other connection with brief, but a well explained context to your query. Never reach out to the person by sending a straight “Hey, can you refer me for this position?” without any prior context.
  • People appreciate information. This also defines your sense of seriousness. One should reach out with the job/URL of the profile (this can be shared via company’s career section or LinkedIn).
  • Sell yourself as much as you can. If you’ve something amazing to share, mention that always. This could be anything that adds up to your profile and brings you closer to the finishing line. I recently referred someone, who has climbed 4 mountain peaks. I can imagine that the person would have an amazing never-giving-up attitude and they can be a great leader too.
  • Prepare a cover letter. Following the above information, this will make it easier for you to connect to people and to apply for multiple roles across the firms around the world.

Lastly, if your message/strategy is concise and appealing, your chances of getting a reply will be high, or the probability for it would increase many folds. If you’re lucky, the referrer may even suggest some improvements or would provide some valuable feedback that can help you in many ways than one. Either way, it’s a win-win situation for you.

| What to do after sending the message?

With the right message sent to the right people, you are most likely to get a lot of referrals from amazing people around the world.

Do note, people are busy and may not respond to you immediately. Do not loose heart, keep going strong. If you struggle to get a reply, send a follow-up message after a few days. But, make sure this is capped to a maximum of 2–3 follow ups spread across 2–4 weeks. If it still doesn’t work, hard luck, try to find someone else for a referral. Avoid spending more time than usual on a single potential connection and move on!

All the best!

In case, more information is required, I can be reached out on —


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