Landing a new job through a referral from a friend or former co-worker is common worldwide. Even when I worked in Brazil, I landed most of my jobs through a referral. It’s good for everyone! To mention only a few of the advantages:
- For you: you already know someone in the company, so you can ask about the company’s culture, and you’ll have someone there you can count on once you begin working there
- For your friend: he/she gets to work with someone they already know and like
- For the company: a current employee is referring a person he/she trusts, so the chances of hiring a person that won’t fit the company’s culture is low, not to mention that it’s way cheaper than a normal hiring process.
Israel is known as the land of immigrants (usually Jews, but not only). It’s very common that a born and raised Israeli has someone from the family or knows someone that immigrated to Israel at some point of his/her life. And they know how hard it can be to start a new life without knowing the language and culture and with no connections.
For that reason, the “Refer a Friend” Program (חבר מביא חבר, in Hebrew) in Israel is used a bit differently than in the rest of the world. I mentioned Referral Programs in a previous blog post, where I wrote about the Israeli culture. In a certain way, this is known here as “protektzia” (a Hebraized version of the English “protection”) the use of personal connections to get things done. And this is why expanding your network in Israel is very important – it’s not what you know or what you do, it’s who you know.
In the continuation, I’ll explain how the Referral Program works, who to look for and where to find them and how it’s the best approach, in my opinion.
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How the Referral Program works
After joining Checkmarx, 6 months ago, I published a blog post sharing my personal story of receiving an internal referral and breaking into High-Tech. This also gave me the opportunity to be interviewed and featured in Israel’s leading women’s magazine, La-Isha (The Woman, in Hebrew). Moreover, one of my current projects is to improve the outcomes from the company’s current Referral Program. Therefore, I can say that I know the importance of a Referral Program from the HR point of view, as well as a job seeker.
So, how does a Referral Program work?
From the point of view of a job seeker, instead of sending your CV through a career website, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed (or any other virtual job board) page, you’ll send it through a current employee.
From the point of view of the company, the CV will be flagged as “Referral”, but this won’t change anything in the process – the job seeker will have to follow the entire interview path established by the company (which differs from company to company), so the hiring team will make sure that the candidate’s profile is a match for the job and for the company.
From the point of view of the employee that is doing the referral, he/she will probably receive a reward for every successful referral, that can range between $ 2,000-4,000 (and sometimes other pampering gifts), depending on the company and on the position the candidate will run for. It’s important to mention that not all companies offer an award (for instance, I know that Wix doesn’t, but their referral program is still very strong) and not all employees receive an incentive per referral (if they’re part of the decision-making hiring team, for example). Everything depends on the company’s internal policies. So, it’s not ONLY about the money the employee can receive.
Also, depending on the company, current employees are asked how well they know the referred person, as well as why the company should hire them.
Who and where to find these connections, when you don’t have a large network to help you
Some people would refer only who they really know and have worked with before (few people from their own friendship circle). Others feel comfortable referring people they don’t really know and are simply willing to help – or just interested in the incentives.
As an oleh chadash/new immigrant with no professional connections in Israel, you’ll have to look for those people willing to refer people they don’t necessarily know or have worked with.
In a recent blog post, I gave some examples of communities where you can find those people. As a job seeker, you have a couple of options to get referred even when you think you don’t have a large network to help you (because you do! You just need to find the correct channel that will work for you!):
- Ask at communities who work at the company you found a matching job opening and if they could refer you internally
- If you joined Facebook communities for job seeking support in Israel, just type the name of the company in the search bar and select the group filter. You’ll find lots of people that have already replied to other people’s posts, and you can approach them (I prefer to approach them using LinkedIn, which is a much more professional social media platform – and this way you’re also expanding your networking in Israel)
- Look for people who could be your future co-worker on LinkedIn and connect with them.
In the next section, I’ll elaborate a bit on how to approach those people.
How to approach people working for companies you want to work for
As I mentioned before, I prefer to approach those people by connecting with them on LinkedIn instead of Facebook. The main reason for that is the different objectives of each social media. When you send a message to someone you’re not connected with on Facebook, for example, the person needs to accept receiving a message from someone outside their friendship circle. On the other hand, LinkedIn offers you many ways to contact people, even if you’re not connected.
When using LinkedIn to connect, there are mainly three different ways:
- Ask to connect – I recommend adding an introduction (don’t ask for a referral straight away!) and when they accept, ask them about the company’s culture and if they recommend the company to work for. Of course, lots of people won’t reply or accept the invitation request. So, you should send the connection request to a couple of people and follow up!
- Send a direct message if you have mutual LinkedIn groups – to see how this is done read in a previous blog post (with screenshots). This option doesn’t require a Premium account! You can thank me later for this golden tip!
- Send an Inmail – for this option, you’ll need a Premium account, but LinkedIn always offers a one month trial – so use it!
My personal recommendation is not to ask for a referral from the hiring team (HR and hiring manager), since they’re part of the decision-making team.
A few important technicalities
Companies that pay a reward for each referral have internal policies and processes. It’s important to mention these to make it clear to those who are looking for a job what can and can’t be done by the referee.
- Referral bonuses are usually given for new talent per position. Meaning, in case you have sent your CV to a specific position through any other source (job boards or company career page, for example), and later ask for a connection to send your CV internally, the referral won’t count – not for the bonus and not for flagging you as a referral. This is why you should always prefer finding someone to refer you BEFORE you apply through other sources.
- In the previous item (approach people to help you), I mentioned that you should send a connection request on LinkedIn to a couple of people, but NOT ask for a referral straight away. As a good friend reminded me, it’s important to emphasize that you shouldn’t ask for all those people you recently connected with to send your CV internally. Choose one, ask him/her to forward your CV and WAIT for an answer before asking someone else! You can (and should) follow up, because sometimes people are busy and don’t do it immediately. So, it’s ok to kindly remember them after a couple of days and if the person doesn’t reply, then ask someone else.
- Some companies offer an easier way for employees to share the company’s open position – a referral link. If you send your CV through a referral link, you’ll be flagged as ‘referral’ without having to depend on the employee’s goodwill to actually forward your CV. So, in case you see someone sharing a position and mention that it’ll go with his/her referral, just use the link to send your CV in. At my current company, Checkmarx, I usually share a referral link, so there’s no need to send me your CV. By the way, here’s my referral link for our open positions: https://bit.ly/CarolHauserCheckmarx.
Did you receive a job referral from an unknown person? Fantastic! Meet him/her for a coffee, get to know that person, after all, he/she helped you open the doors.
And don’t forget to keep spinning the wheel of support for unknown people using the many channels available to you! Pass it on! You never know who you’re going to give a hand to.
When we help ourselves we find moments of happiness. When we help others, we find lasting fulfillment – Simon Sinek
I hope you enjoyed and learned something new with this blog post! If you did, I would really appreciate it if you could leave a comment!
Next week, I’ll share how a typical hiring process in Israel looks like (worst-case scenario) and a few tips on how to act in each step. Stay tuned!