Builders, electricians, dentists, doctors, beauticians – we’ve all had tradespeople and professionals like these referred to us by friends we know and trust. Often, the only reason we use them is because of that recommendation and who it came from.

The same logic applies to job applications and having a referral from someone in your industry can help you steal a march on the other candidates. In fact, 78% of hiring managers reckon their best candidates come from referrals.

What employers want from jobseekers.

Being referral worthy though, means building those all-important professional relationships and linking up with the right people in your industry, which is all part and parcel of your personal brand. It’s no longer enough to have a sparkling CV and brilliant interview skills - you need the whole package.

A massive 90% of recruiters now go online to check out a candidate’s social profile and as well as making sure it’s employer-friendly (note: you might want to delete those drunken university photos!), they also check for signs you’ve met the right people, built solid connections and linked up with people who could refer you.

Would you refer you for a potential job?

Referrals are a fantastic way to grow your career, boost your prospects and find out about opportunities before they’ve even been made public. But you’re not going to get an avalanche of referrals without creating a solid personal brand first.

“What’s a personal brand?” you might ask. A personal brand, much like a product brand, is what sets you apart. It makes you unique. In today’s competitive job market, that’s no bad thing.

But be honest - ask yourself a) if your personal brand is up to scratch and b) whether you’d refer yourself for a job. If the answer’s no, then it’s time to change it.

How can I make personal branding work for me?

Your CV will form the backbone of your brand so make sure it is well-written and optimised for the web with keywords for the job you want. 

More than two thirds of recruiters have rejected someone because of something they read online so while engaging tweets and blogs about industry trends are in, drunken rants and inappropriate photos of you are definitely out!

Decide on your area of expertise and get writing! Create your own blog, share posts on social media or sites like LinkedIn Pulse or ask to guest blog on reputable sites. Try to be articulate, engaging and insightful.

Not only can you include your CV and bio on your site, you can build a collection of articles on industry trends and news. Just 7% of candidates have a personal site but 56% of recruiters are more impressed with a site than anything else so it’s a no-brainer really.

Nothing beats getting out there and talking to the people who matter. Use LinkedIn to connect online but don’t forget to attend industry events. Who knows, a casual conversation over a cup of coffee could lead to a job offer down the line.

The truth is, building a personal brand takes time and dedication. But get it right and the referrals will follow.