Someone referred by a current employee is the person most employers prefer to hire. Known as an "employee referral" these candidates typically become very good employees, known as a “good hire” in the recruiting world.
Best for the employee is that they usually receive compensation, sometimes in the thousands of dollars, if a person they refer is hired and stays in the job, working successfully for at least 3 to 6 months.
Even if you don't end up with a referral as the result of your contact, you may learn "insider information" about specific employers and jobs as a result of reaching out to insiders for something that may be an informational interview.
So, the result can be a better network, more information, and, possibly, a referral by an employee. All good!
How do you connect with that "insider" if you don’t know one – or don’t think that you know one?
If you are looking to find an insider at a company you want to work for, you can certainly use sites like LinkedIn.
But Facebook also offers that capability if you know how to find it.
From the desktop version of Facebook (not available on mobile) click on the "More" link next to the "Friends" link in the left navigation menu on your Facebook Home page. You may need to run your mouse over the Friends title to see the More link appear.
Then, choose the "Find Friends" button
Which brings you to this page, below.
Then, using the example above, I searched for people who have worked at IBM in the Boston area. The search results return several current employees as well as people who have worked there in the past. Both current and former employees can be great sources of information for you.
Job seekers may be able to use a search like this to reconnect with an old colleague or grab the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager by using the Message feature in Facebook.
Once you have identified the person, you can send them an internal message by clicking on the "Message" link beside the "Add Friend" link near the top of their profile page.
Send a message like this one, if you are currently employed:
“Hi [name]. I see you work at [employer name], and I am hoping that you could give me some advice about finding a job there. I’m targeting positions as [job title] and [job title].
“Currently , I am a [job title] at [employer name]. I have enjoyed my work, and learned a great deal about [whatever you want to do], but it feels like time to move on. Your employer has an excellent reputation, and I would love to learn more about working there and any opportunities at [employer name].
“If you have a few minutes to spare, I would love to talk with you about your experiences at [employer name]. I can make myself available at your convenience and would be very grateful for your insight in a short call.”
Or, send a message similar to the one below, if you are currently unemployed:
"Hi [name]. I see you work at [employer name], and I am hoping that you could give me some advice about finding a job there. I’m targeting positions as [job title] and [job title].
"Recently, I was a [job title] at [employer name]. I enjoyed my work, and learned a great deal about [whatever you want to do], but circumstances made leaving necessary. Your employer has an excellent reputation, and I would love to learn more about working there and any opportunities at [employer name].
"If you have a few minutes to spare, I would love to talk with you about your experiences at [employer name]. I can make myself available at your convenience and would be very grateful for your insight in a short call."
You can also check for an email address or phone number in the "About – Contact and Basic Info" section on their Facebook page. If they provide an email address, use that email address for your message. Use a short subject line like this: "Inquiry about [employer name]." Keep the message short, clear, and honest.
Depending on their Facebook privacy settings, they should receive your message in their Facebook “inbox” and see it the next time they login to Facebook.
NOTE: Don’t be negative about your current (or former) job and employer. Do be very respectful of the person’s time – ask for another call (or meeting for coffee where you buy the coffee) if the call goes over the agreed amount of time. Ending the call by asking them if there is anything you can do for them is a nice gesture and could lead to a longer term networking relationship.
Hopefully, this is much easier to do since you know this person. If you have their email address, you can send to that address, or you can send them an internal message via Facebook that says something like this –
"Hi [name]! Hope all is going well in your world! I wonder if you could give me some quick advice? I’m reaching out because I’m looking for new opportunities and am curious about what it is like to work for [their employer name] and what opportunities may be available there.
"Quick update on me – I am currently the [job title] for [employer name] in [location], and I’ve been doing that for [time frame]. But, making a change feels like a good idea now, so I thought I’d explore other opportunities.
"I would love to talk with you about what’s been happening in your life and what opportunities you may be aware of at [employer name] that might be a good fit for me."
Don’t make the message too long and, again, be positive about your current situation, and be very respectful of the other person’s time. They are doing you a favor.
With millions of members, Facebook can be an excellent way to find and connect with (or at least contact) people who could be very valuable members of your network.
Chris Russell is the CEO & Founder of CareerCloud.com. An advocate for job seekers everywhere, he is widely considered to be the "mad scientist of online recruiting," a badge he wears with pride. His long running podcast, CareerCloud Radio has been around since 2007 and is consistently a top 25 show in the iTunes - Career category. Follow Chris online via twitter @chrisrussell, and circling him on Google+.