The Power of Referrals in Retail Job Hunting

John Scott
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The power of networking speaks to the power of referrals. When competition is high and positions are limited, a good word from a respected retail professional can nudge you through the door. Even when you're feeling good about your retail job search, referrals can be a game changer, cluing you in on opportunities that aren't advertised through traditional channels. By leveraging your professional contacts and requesting a job referral, you can transform weeks of fruitless legwork to the job offer of your dreams.

Retail is a vast, overwhelming domain, but referrals make it easier to navigate by narrowing the focus of your retail job search. People are often encouraged to look far and wide for their golden opportunity, which is why relying largely on your network may seem counterintuitive to a productive search. But the majority of open positions aren't publicly listed, and small businesses are especially inclined to favor word of mouth when seeking qualified candidates. While your goal may be to increase your chances of finding an ideal job, limiting your sources to career search engines and classifieds can have the opposite effect. From the friendly neighbor who runs a local antique store to the former colleague working as a retail manager, you can tap into your network for referrals to hidden job opportunities.

Employers look favorably upon employee referrals, the practice of selecting job candidates based on recommendations from current employees. They believe referred candidates tend to be better qualified and more likely to stay put. A Jobvite study of its client base revealed that over 40 percent of referred employees stuck around for the job, compared to just 14 percent for employees found through job boards. It also found that employee referrals contributed to 61 percent of new hires, reaffirming the growing importance of a job referral in hiring. Whether you're seeking a seasonal or full-time retail position, prioritizing referrals during your retail job search can push you ahead of the competition, landing you the coveted interview before everyone else.

Some retail companies, including Enterprise Rent-A-Car, maintain highly structured employee referral programs complete with financial incentives for those who bring in exceptional candidates. Others take a more lax approach, simply informing employees of a new opening and asking them to spread the word. Either way, more and more employers place greater trust in referrals than online job boards, which have a tendency to attract large numbers of unqualified applicants. Your retail job search should take this trend into account. Integrate social media sites, such as LinkedIn, to connect with former coworkers and bosses and identify family members and college buddies involved in the retail industry. Traditional networking methods also come in handy for netting referrals. Attend club meetings or seek a mentor during your retail job search to cultivate relationships that can help advance your career.

The retail job search is full of uncertainties, but a well-placed referral can eliminate most of your problems. The referral lets prospective employers know you're someone worth pursuing, giving you one less thing to worry about during the hiring process.  



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