Get a PM Job Referral!

A PM job referral! As a new or experienced Project Manager (PM), a job referral can get you over the top. But what is a job referral? How can you work to find a job referral? Who can get you a job referral?  Here are some insights on how to get a PM job referral and tips on the overall PM job search.

I meet all the Project Manager job requirements!

If we look at a job site and search for: “PMP” + “Jobs in the United States”, our job search produces nearly 90,000 jobs! That sounds like a lot of opportunity; and it is! The Project Management Institute (PMI) estimates a need for 2.3 Million Project Managers by 2030. But what if you are looking for a PM job now and you need to stand out among the competition? You have the requirements down pat:

  • Active Project Management Professional (PMP) certification
  • Tailored resume to the position
  • Able to pass the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Read further to learn more about the ATS.
  • Experience and education matching the job requirements

Q: So what else can I do? A: Look for a PM Job Referral!

After meeting the requirements, you can increase your chances of landing that interview and continued selection by seeking out a job referral from an existing employee from a prospective company. But what is a referral anyway? Typically, a job referral allows your resume to be seen by an actual human from the Talent Acquisition team or Recruiter on that position. Depending upon the company, the job referral could bypass the ATS. Of course, you can apply to a position without a referral, but why lessen your chances? Let’s look at 5 steps to find a PM job referral.

#1: Find Your Ideal Project Manager Position

Start by looking for a ‘Project Manager’ position on the company website, job board, or networking website. Search by term, location, or department area. For ‘term’, you may want to include ‘Technical’, or your specialty area such as ‘IT’ or ‘Construction’ to narrow the search based upon your skills and desired position. For ‘location’, include options for ‘Hybrid’ or ‘Remote’ if you want to pursue greater flexibility. ‘Department area’ also allows you to narrow down by your speciality area, such as ‘Engineering’.

#2: Find Your Recruiter

Now that you’ve found your PM job, can you find the Recruiter for that position? Remember that while some companies have ‘in-house’ Talent Acquisition teams, many companies outsource this effort. The Recruiter is likely advertising the position on a job search or networking sites. For example, put that “Position Name/Location” as a search term for a LinkedIn post. Don’t search by the Jobs tab- look for the Post. Did you find the post? That’s probably the Recruiter. Did you find others who posted the position? They could be the Hiring Manager, or an employee that could do your job referral!

Let’s pause for a moment. If you don’t get this position this Recruiter probably offers other similar positions in their portfolio. ACTION: Connect with the Recruiter / Hiring Manager or Follow the Recruiter / Hiring Manager. That will be helpful in any future job referral.

OK, you found the Recruiter and you may have found the Hiring Manager. Both are great to know. Follow and connect with them and engage and support their comments. Typically, Recruiters and Hiring Managers can’t provide a job referral as they are involved in the application process. Maybe you won them over already in some conversations, but let’s try to find that job referral.

Who do you know in the company that can offer a job referral? Almost any employee can line up a job referral. They don’t have to be in that desired location, program, or business unit. Going back to that job networking site, search for terms from the job posting to find your potential teammates. You are looking for the right connection to give you insights and the job referral.

Milestones along your referral search.
Milestones along your referral search!

#4: Find the Right Employee for the PM Job Referral

The fundamentals apply in the job search process. It’s just like life- relationships matter. You might have a relationship with someone in the hiring process or a manager. If not, you can build a solid relationship with the right employee and find that referral.

Going back to the job networking sites, earlier we did a search for employees in that location, program, or business area. Are there a handful of employees that are actively posting? Maybe not about the job but about some other interest area? Did they post a comment this week? Are they talking positively about their work? You want to engage with a few employees that will answer a ‘cold call’ email or instant message from you to and give you insights to help get the job.

#5: Secure the Job Referral

It’s time to connect with that employee that might offer the referral! You’ve done your research about the position and the company. You’ve commented or engaged on posts concerning their work. You have established some common connections. Reach out and ask about your interest in a referral and the application process in their company. Their company may offer a financial benefit to employees for their successful referrals.

With that referral, you’ve got a step up on the competition and the process. You still have some work ahead (interviews and compensation discussions) but you have stepped through the door.  Good Luck!

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This article was written by Frank Tank. Frank serves as the Military & Veteran Adviser to Peak Business Management. He is a certified PMP and a 30-year US Army Veteran, serving as an enlisted soldier and as an officer in the intelligence field. Frank guides military members and veterans who are pursuing PMI certifications