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Tips & Training

How to get referrals as a career professional in 2023

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Career services is a largely referral-dependent business. The more you are known and visible in the field, the easier it is to have client prospects. Referrals come to us through past relationships, quality of work and our online presence. Relationships work best when we take a genuine interest in our clients’ career journeys and listen intently to their goals. The quality of work speaks for itself. Our online presence is effective when the content we share is of value to our potential clients.

Here are some ideas to keep growing your referrals:

1. Do quality work

Exceed clients’ expectations whenever possible (value for money, speed, accuracy). Deliver the first draft that is as complete as it can be, to minimize revision time for the client and prepare them more quickly for their job search.

2. Listen to your clients

Put their goals at the centre of your practice and acknowledge any challenges they have. Everyone’s challenges are different, but equally significant. Clients begin to see the way out of their situations once they are fully heard.

3. Ask informed, genuine follow-up questions

Taking interest in your client’s work and industry will help you collect enough data for the resume while also building a better rapport. You will also learn more about every industry for your own expertise.

4. Offer praise for some of the client’s achievements

Point out what you think are impressive accomplishments. A lot of the time, clients are modest about their work or even nervous about job search. Their confidence may be undermined by recent rejections or long silences in the hiring process. While we ask them many questions to articulate achievements, we can also be the person who appreciates their work and lets them know why.

Point out an impressive combination of skills, strong education credentials, above-average motivation to deliver results and improve processes, or their ability to persevere in the face of challenges. In other words, make sure to name, in specific terms, at least one or two core strengths of the client when you speak with them on the phone. Hearing this from a career professional will boost their confidence and potentially help them to articulate their strengths during interviews.

Some examples of such compliments could be:

  • “I can tell you’ve invested a great deal of time and effort into XYZ.”
  • “Your commitment to this organization’s mission is exceptional. I’m not surprised you helped them achieve so much across many functions. Any company will be fortunate to have you.”
  • “This is an impressive award. I see that you dedicate a lot of your own time to promoting women in IT. Congratulations on such a solid community leadership stance!”
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5. Create a newsletter

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to engage your audience because they probably already know, like and trust you – and want to see your updates in their mailbox. Do not frequently fill the newsletter with sales-y messages. Come up with an original way to deliver value based on what you know about your client groups.

6. If applicable, offer a free add-on service

Do you have a returning customer or someone who gave you multiple referrals? Did you need more time than initially promised to deliver the first draft? Consider giving your client a brief add-on document for free to thank them for their loyalty or patience. This can be a cover letter or a thank you letter template, a worksheet, a reference sheet template or anything they could find useful in their job search.

7. Ask past clients to introduce you to people in their network who may benefit from your services

This is usually done at the end of the project, when you send your final email with a survey link or any other process you have to complete the order.

8. Offer free, introductory phone consultations

These are a great way to get to know your clients, assess their goals and position yourself as an approachable, empathetic and efficient professional. This is also a great way to assess if a client is a good fit and provide value at the same time. Someone who cannot hire you now may choose to do so later or send you a referral based on the quality/helpfulness of that short introductory call.

9. Share content that aims to provide value and educate your potential clients

Post consistently on social media based on your client needs and frequently asked questions. Ask them what topics they would like to learn about the most or gauge these topics using your engagement analytics.

10. Offer a package/service that includes a learning component

This can be a manual on how to market one’s resume or a printable checklist on how to edit career materials in the future. These helpful tips for pursuing your client’s goals will help you stay on top of their mind after you deliver the resume. You will be known as a career consultant who can be trusted and returned to, if needed.

11. Build relationships with colleagues

We all have different specializations and may send an occasional client to a career professional who is better prepared to help them. Association memberships, social media groups and industry conferences are a great way to connect and learn about each other.

12. Ask for recommendations

If you don’t ask, chances are you won’t get many. Find a way to incorporate this request into your final email to the clients, upon order completion. Recommendations are the most frequently read section of a LinkedIn profile. Having recent recommendations is a great way to validate your experience and turn referrals/prospects into clients.

Tanya Mykhaylychenko provides resume writing and career strategy services for executives. Connect with her on LinkedIn for networking tips and ideas on career development.
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Tanya Mykhaylychenko provides resume writing and career strategy services for executives. Connect with her on LinkedIn for networking tips and ideas on career development.
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