How to Get Effective Internal Recommendations?

I've been fortunate enough to work in companies that have been on the lists of Best Companies to Work For. Because of that there has been many times when people I know have asked me to recommend them.

Of course, I happily comply when I feel that they are perfect candidates.

However, I've noticed a trend among some of the requests lately- they just forward their resume to me without an explanation of the why. WHY they may be a great fit? WHY they may want the job? WHY they excel at what they do? 

All I've been getting is " Hi Clara, thank you for your help on this! Here is my resume."


Oh no, no, no. This is not good.

Why? Because when I get these requests or resumes, I am not able to go above and beyond to recommend them. And believe me when I say, I WANT TO GO ABOVE AND BEYOND on any recommendation I make. Yes I may be willing to recommend you, but I may not know what I should hone in based on your job of interest. 

Also, hiring managers and recruiters like to see that the person to an extra step in describing themselves and why they want the selected job.  Even if they love me, and trust my word, they want to know that the candidate will indeed be a good hire and will bring value to the company by the actions they take. They want proof that who I am recommending is definitely who I say they are. 

So how do you ensure that you get recommended effectively?   

  • Before reaching out to the person who is recommending you, make sure to know and understand the jobs available. Therefore, search for jobs available in your field that are open in the company.
  • Once you've picked the job you are interested in, jot down the job number (or title), what requirements and qualifications best match yours, and write how your experience adds value to what they are looking for and why you are the perfect candidate.  
  • Then treat your email like your cover letter by providing the information above.  (MOST IMPORTANT!)
    • In the email, include the position name and the three points showcasing why you would be the best selection
    • Make it conversational
    • And make it succinct (get to the point)
  • Lastly, don't forget to follow up with a thank you for forwarding your resume, and ask for who to follow up with. This step is very important so that you can then take the ownership back in your search. 

Now, lets say there is an opportunity that your friend tells you its coming up, and there is not enough information about. I know that this can be harder, but still follow the steps above and do one of the following: 

  • highlight what you know your strengths are/any achievements in your current job
  • focus on the interpersonal portion of it - effective communicator, the best strategist/leader in the world, math genius, etc. 
  • Match your core values with the companies - what you you believe makes you an effective candidate

Remember, the person that recommends you is as strong as what you arm him/her with. This is true even if your BFF is recommending you.

By doing this, you won't miss your opportunity to be on top (since most people are considered through an effective internal recommendation), and it makes sure that the person who recommends you will do it again in the future.