Get a better job referral - don't just send a resume

 A lot of my friends keep asking me for a referral in my company. However, the chances of getting hired depends a lot on not just their skills or their resume, but also on how many people the resume reaches, even if the job requirements are remotely related. While people often talk about going through your connections and network to get the best referrals and positions, you have to make the process of forwarding your resume as smooth as possible.

 The purpose of this post is two-fold. The first is that I cannot repeat this to everyone who sends me a resume. Secondly (and more importantly), the topic is delicate for anyone who really wants a job, but I cannot tell them that you are screwing your own chances by just sending a resume. Consider this anonymous feedback for public good.

1. Make a better resume

As oft-repeated as this is, there cannot be a simpler tip to implement. Please take a look at Gayle's resume tips here: No objectives, accomplishment oriented short bullet points, with as much useful numerical data as possible. Make it easy for the recruiter to read it - force the eyes to go to the points you want. Also, if I keep forwarding bloated undecipherable resumes to people (even to my personal connections), I lose my reputation. Please help me send at least professional resumes forward.

2. A meaningful email = a good cover letter

Most corporate referral systems have a section where I can make a comment about a candidate who I am referring for a position. Usually, I have to write down how far do I know you personally, why you'll be a good fit, etc. Please make my job easier, by providing some text in your email itself that I can literally copy-paste, or put in with minimal edits.

3. Do not spray and pray

The worst mistake you can do when you are sending your resume is to declare, "Hey dude can you forward this resume for any internal postings?". No, I cannot. Because I don't have time to go through your resume, then do a keyword search, filter by location, external requirements, etc. and then write your cover letter for you and then apply. Really - I don't. Instead, do your homework. Find out from the corporate job listing website exactly which position(s) you are looking for. And then send the requisition numbers or the link to the position, etc. in your email. See, now you just made my life easier - referring you will be just a few clicks away.

4. Follow up, but don't nag

It is okay to reach out after a week and check whether there has been any progress. It serves two purposes. First, if I have really forgotten about the resume (not me, those other people), I can send it at that time. Or, if there is an email from the hiring manager asking for more information about you, I can take the action. Second, if I run into the hiring manager or the recruiter socially somewhere, I might put in a good word about you or just follow up - it brings your resume to the top of the pile.

5. Miscellaneous

Mention what kind of attachment you are sending (and don't forget the attachment). If you don't mention it and I find that there is a suspicious attachment, I will probably mark it as spam. Also, PDF resumes are preferred (since some recruiters have the bad habit of twisting your resume to "enhance" experience for a position), and you also don't me to suddenly copy and paste your resume format for my own. Finally, make sure you are not asking for a favor beyond the level or acquaintance between the two of us. If you are my close friend, I'll dig through the corporate job postings on my own and apply on your behalf to a hundred positions in addition to just the one you sent. However, if you are a casual acquaintance I met at a party, don't ask me to apply to all available Product Manager positions in your email. Ain't gonna happen.

So, what would a good email look like? Like this:

Hi Sudipta, 
 Hope you are doing good. 
 I was going through the job listings on XYZ and noticed this post that really caught my eye:, for a Senior Solutions Engineer. 
 I think I would be a great fit for the position. I have worked with clients before (such as A11 and B22), and have a good knowledge of the business ecosystem of the retail vertical. I noticed that the job role requires Python and MySQL experience, and I have been using those technologies for quite a while now. In addition, looking at the general trend of job postings and news articles of XYZ, it seems you are looking for people who can help move the data to a consolidated data warehousing system. I would be the perfect candidate for the job, since I have been a program manager in our internal data warehousing team for quite a while. 
 Attached is my PDF resume - please forward it to the relevant people and let me know if you need more information. 


  1. Interesting tips, Sudipta. It's funny how many people do not know how to prepare a resume. They get stuck at that stage.

    I think you're right. Most potential employers would be more interested in your qualification and experience than your long term objectives etc. I don't think many of us have an idea about long term objectives anyway.

    Luckily I have avoided this in my career by becoming a self-employed professional. Still, it's useful to have a short profile handy to send to prospective clients.

    1. Yes, Hari - and I am proud of you for being your own boss! :)

    2. Well, I am a lawyer. It's a traditional profession, but yes, I chose not to work under the wings of any senior. Still, it's going reasonably well. :)

  2. Sudipta, you have done a good job. These things are very important to understand by the candidates. A professionally written resume with great referrals is a good combination.

  3. Neha - thank you. I'll let your little self-plugin about your own website remain just because I am feeling generous tonight :)

  4. Thanks for the covering letter. I can refer to it next time I apply. ☺️


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