There are lots of ways to ask a candidate for referrals. Specifically, what verbiage do you like to use or find is most effective? And when do you inject that verbiage/request into your conversations with candidates?

  • Is it during your 1st Introduction Call with a candidate?
  • During your 2nd call?
  • After a candidate gets an interview?
  • After a candidate accepts a job offer?
  • During the time period between offer acceptance and their start date?
  • Just after their start date?
  • Ongoing requests while they are an active employee?
  • After they reject a job offer and feel indebted to you for investing time in them?
  • After they reject an interview or moving forward because your opportunity is not the right fit for
  • them?
  • All of the above?

What verbiage and timing tactics do you find are most effective?

Here is a simple idea on how to ask for more referrals without asking. It goes back to the very first opening statements during the introduction call with a new candidate. Add this kind of verbiage to your opening lines and plant seeds for magic to happen:

“Hey John, thanks for scheduling a call today. Just so you know, I work almost exclusively with ________________ Industry/Region Professionals/Operators/etc. like yourself such as (INSERT JOB TITLE) but I also work with (INSERT RELATED INDUSTRY TITLE OR JOB TITLE OF ANOTHER ONE OF YOUR ACTIVE JOB OPENINGS). I help those in the industry find great jobs while also advising and coaching them through interview processes and even provide job search tips.

I want to help you and those in the __________ industry in any way I can.”

  • This kind of verbiage establishes relevancy, trust and credibility
  • Pause after the intro and wait for the candidate to reply

The candidate may reply: “Wow, that’s great. I really appreciate the call and I’m excited to talk to you.”

What just happened?

  • You not only established yourself as a caring career advisor in their mind, but you also asked for referrals without asking.
  • When you listed off 4 or 5 other types of professionals you also recruit for in the industry (or even job titles of your other active openings), the candidate indexes and makes a mental note that you’ve helped others in the industry, so maybe can help other people they may know.
  • By listing off other job titles you recruit, you are planting a seed in the candidate’s mind.
  • Each job title listed/mentioned will trigger a connection in their mind of someone in their life who may be job seeking or unhappy at their current job.

So what do you do next?

Nothing! (nothing related to asking referrals that is)

Next, you serve the candidate in front of you with the most excellent service possible. Listen to their needs, empathize, advise, help, coach, do everything to serve that candidate well during their experience and be an exceptional Talent Acquisition professional.

Give them the best experience they’ve ever had with a Recruiter. Treat them like family, treat them with respect and courtesy. Bring your “A” game and do your very best to serve them well.

Then what?

Keep serving them well throughout the process. Even if they don’t land the job or accept a different position, they should walk away feeling their experience with you was satisfying and different. This way, they know you are a true professional. They will respect your high level of service and attention to them, and will instinctively desire to refer their friends to you.

So is that it?

Yes and no.

Your great service and kindness has established a mutual level of respect and rapport that you can now ask for referrals and the candidate will be ensured you are not trying to manipulate them or use them.

Here is one option for verbiage to actually ask for referrals:

“Hey John, one more thing, do you remember when I mentioned to you during our first call I help other professionals in the ____________ Industry/Region get jobs, (INSERT ACTIVE JOB SEARCH TITLE #1), (INSERT #2), (INSERT #3), ETC. You wouldn’t happen to know, just one friend you think I could help or who just might want to hear about a new job?”

Candidate: “Actually, yes, I was talking to my friend joe the other day, he’s a _________ professional, let me connect you with him.”

Or the Candidate could respond: “No, I can’t think of anyone.”

Your response: “Well, I would appreciate you keeping me in mind if you learn any of your friends or family is looking to change positions or job seeking. I will do my very best to serve them as well as I hopefully did for you.”

Candidate: “Oh, you were great. I really appreciated your help through this process and I will send people your way.”

When do you ask?

You can make the ask at nearly any time throughout the recruiting process. As long as you are proving them with great service (attention, courtesy, responsiveness, counsel, time, etc.), then at any point you can refer to that first conversation when you listed off other professionals for whom you recruit and ask for referrals.

The main idea here is: Serve them well first! Really really well, and you may not ever even have to ask.

What verbiage and timing tactics do you find are most effective when asking for referrals?


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