18

I work in the software engineering industry. I want to work for company X. This company is a big company, and receives many CVs per day. Looking online, it seems that it would be better to ask for a referral instead of applying directly, otherwise chances are there that nobody will read my application.

Personally, I do not really know anyone working at company X. However, some months ago, I wrote some highly technical blog posts, and a VP working for company X asked to connect with me on LinkedIn saying that she enjoyed what I wrote.

Now I'd like to send a message through LinkedIn to her, asking for a referral. More or less, here's what I had in mind:

Dear ...,

I'm the author of "...", do you remember me? As I concluded the contract with my current company, I'm exploring opportunities at company X. I'm wondering if do you feel you could give me a referral?

Clear, concise, direct... perhaps too direct (and perhaps too colloquial). Should I rephrase the question?

Also, I have a doubt: is it appropriate for me to ask her for a referral, given that we don't know each other (neither personally, nor professionally)?

  • 1
    Captain Hindsight says: you should have connected through LinkedIn back when she asked and kept in contact since then. – Hannover Fist Oct 1 '15 at 21:28
  • 19
    One thing to be aware of: the use of "doubt" as a synonym for "question" confuses many American English speakers; for us, "doubt" is much more strongly tied to disbelief. It took me a long time to learn that when an Indian colleague said "I have a doubt", they were asking, not challenging. I'd recommend unlearning that phrase. – keshlam Oct 2 '15 at 0:30
  • 5
    The whole point of LinkedIn is to make connections to further your career. You've made the connection, now use it! – AndyT Oct 2 '15 at 10:48
42

Should I rephrase the question?

Also, I have a doubt: is it appropriate for me to ask her for a referral, given that we don't know each other (neither personally, nor professionally)?

It's perfectly appropriate and reasonable to ask for a referral from someone who read your writings, liked them, and asked to connect with you on LinkedIn. And your phrasing is fine.

I know of many folks who got their first introduction to a company that eventually hired them, based on their blog.

While it won't hurt to ask, be prepared to be turned down. Some folks would never refer an unknown person for a job at their company.

I probably wouldn't recommend someone I didn't actually know for a job with my company - even if I really liked their blog posts. I might be willing to pass along their resume with a note saying "I can't vouch for this person, as I don't know him. I have read and liked his blog though."

  • 11
    This comes down to a simple question: What do you have to lose? There's a legitimate connection with the LinkedIn thing, so it can't hurt to leverage it. If you get turned down, you are no worse off than you were before. – Mohair Oct 1 '15 at 16:37
  • @Mohair - I completely agree in the event he is unwilling to provide a referral its not like he is going to spike the OP's application either. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Oct 1 '15 at 20:09
  • 1
    A "referral" in the sense of an introduction, or in the sense of a recommendation? – Aaron Hall Oct 1 '15 at 20:15
20

There's an alternate tactic to take instead of asking for a referral, which is to ask for advice in applying to Company X, or if this person feels that you would be a good fit, or if there is a good team/position to apply for etc....

If you start a dialog with this VP, they may end up offering a referral or another contact which can help distinguish your CV from the rest of the pile. If the person doesn't really respond, then its unlikely they would have offered a referral anyway.

  • 1
    This is a good supplement to the other answer. It opens the possibility that she might suggest another position, or even another company. If she does, she probably knows more about what goes on inside than you do and it is likely to be a worthwhile avenue for you. – La-comadreja Oct 1 '15 at 19:51
5

If by "referral" you mean "recommendation": Not appropriate.

Why would anyone you don't know be a good person to ask for a referral? The best they can say is "Mike wrote a few good posts", which isn't going to do you much good. Diluting your strong referrals with a weak one would not be a good idea.

And they'll probably decline the request , since they really can't vouch for you.

.....

However, if you're just looking for someone to pass your resume to HR with a note saying "chatted briefly with this guy on line and he seems fairly savvy; worth investigating further" -- that is a completely appropriate request. In fact you might even be doing them a favor, since their employer may offer a few bonus dollars to people who bring in good candidates.

As to whether coming in via that route will help you: Depends on who your contact is. If you've been chatting with, say, the Director of Research (or a VP!), anything that comes down from their office is likely to be looked at more carefully since there's the slight chance that s/he might ask "hey, what happened with..." and HR will want to have a solid answer ready. If you're a good candidate, that can help you past the layers of people who can only say no. On the other hand, if your contact is someone like me -- many years with the company but not a major figure by any means -- this might skip one layer of filtering, which helps but won't be make-or-break; nobody would feel uncomfortable telling me "I don't remember, and besides that's confidential so you shouldn't ask."

Net-net: If you're really asking about referral, go for it; nobody will be offended, and while it might not help it can't hurt.

  • 19
    I think there's a difference between a reference (someone who can attest to your job ability) and a referral (someone who could personally recommend that you be considered for a job). You seem to be talking about the former, but the question is about the latter. They don't have to say that you would do well in the job, just that they think your resume is worth looking at more closely. – David K Oct 1 '15 at 14:25
  • ok, point granted. Sorry; distracted at the moment. – keshlam Oct 1 '15 at 17:47
  • 1
    Is this really the accepted answer? I would expect an accepted answer to be more nuanced, and allow room for some action. To simply say Not Appropriate seems a little too risk-averse to me. – mcknz Oct 1 '15 at 21:12
  • Actually, I agree, and I've rewritten my answer to try to address both possible interpretations of "referral". However I do think I need to clearly draw the distinction, especially since there's a hint that English (or at least American English) may not be @Michael's native language. – keshlam Oct 2 '15 at 0:34
  • 1
    Feel free to write another answer, or vote for other answers. I wouldn't have picked mine as best either, but that's not my decision. – keshlam Oct 5 '15 at 3:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.