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Referrals 101

Referrals 101

Unless you’re currently at your first job ever, you’re probably familiar with the practice of providing references who can attest to the quality of your work. (For freelancers, these tend to be testimonials excerpted on a resume, profile, or website.)

Referrals, on the other hand, are your chance to pay it forward by sharing the name of someone you think could be a good match for a job opening with your current employer (or client, depending on your work setup). Let’s delve into the who’s and how’s of referrals.

Do You Understand the Job Opening?

Naturally, it takes a range of talents to make a business run smoothly, including those in the translation industry. That means when your employer posts a job ad, you may or may not be super-familiar with the in’s and out’s of the daily work for a particular role. 

Read the job description and list of qualifications carefully, and ask for clarification from the hiring manager as needed, so you’ll have a better understanding of how someone’s skills and experience might apply. Remember that your contact will likely have to apply, interview, and (if applicable) pass certain tests to get the job, just like other applicants.

How — and How Well — Do You Know the Candidate?

Is this a friend from high school who recently reappeared on Facebook after a decade of no contact? Or is this a coworker you collaborated with regularly at your last job? Consider how much you know about this person in a work setting, since the appropriateness of the referral is a reflection of your own professionalism.

If you can vouch for their work ethic and abilities, you’ll be able to make a stronger case for your company to move forward with the candidate. Maybe you didn’t work directly with this person, but remember that they’re pleasant in the office — that’s valuable to know! If your knowledge starts and ends with, say, where and what they studied, the best option is to provide just that limited information.

If It Doesn’t Work Out

The last thing you want to do is over-promise and under-deliver, to either side. So keep expectations realistic. Instead of telling your friend the job is in the bag, explain why you think it could be a good fit, ask whether the role is something they’d be interested in, and encourage them to apply. The same rule applies to discussing the referral as a promising possibility, rather than as a perfect candidate, with the hiring manager. 

After all, your company may decide to offer the job to someone else, or your referral might end up turning the offer down. But offering a referral is a gesture of goodwill toward both your employer and the candidate, and as long as the referral was made in good faith, that makes it a win-win.