How to Ask for a Referral From a Stranger on LinkedIn


First of all, can you ask for a referral from a stranger? LinkedIn is full of connections from people hoping to expand their network, especially with others in companies they hope to join.

Recently, a friend of a friend asked if he could list me as his referral for a job he’s applying for at my company.

I’m happy to help out friends, and friends of friends, in their job search. I’m also happy to help out people with even more distant connections. But if I don’t know anything about your work history or performance, and I’ve never met you, I can’t be listed as a referral.

To me, “referral” connotes more of a connection that we actually have, a reference that has no concrete basis.

I responded that he could say “A friend of Becky’s referred me to this job” and that would provide enough of a context and network connection to the hiring manager.

I have no problem connecting with people I don’t know, because you never know who they know, and in the process you might learn something that can help you with your career. You just have to proceed with common sense and caution when moving the relationship forward, and remember to look at things from their point of view, too.

How would you have responded to this request? What’s your interpretation of “referral”?

How Do You Schedule Time…Off?


I usually take vacation around my birthday. This year I’m not. I just didn’t feel like it. Perhaps the fact that it comes right smack in the middle of the work week has something to do with it.

When I do take off from work, it’s rarely with a simple “See ya later” and a bland Out of Office email. Social media is one of those mixed-blessing entities where its extreme accessibility can help and hurt you. The mere process of detaching yourself from the glitzy online frenzy can be exhausting, if you even have the option in the first place.

In “The new flex balance: Staying connected on vacation,” it seems that staying tuned in is almost a job requirement. But is that just our perception, because it’s so easy to slide over from checking your personal email to “just seeing” what’s on your work email, or from your own Facebook to your brand pages?

And after all, what’s the harm of spending an hour making sure nothing’s blown up in your absence?

The harm is you may never fully disentangle yourself from the “I am the job” mentality. If this works for you, great–everyone’s experience will vary, and we all get our energy and relaxation in different ways. The article itself suggests that giving up that hour will taking PTO may actually serve to give you peace of mind.

Yet turning the brand off, even if only for a day here and there, could provide you with a fresh perspective when you come back to it. A worry-free absence can generate new ideas, new energy, and a revitalized sense of  “this is the job for me.” It can also help you realize that the job isn’t all you are. We all need that balance to make greatness out of what we do.

So how do you achieve that balance? Use the tools you have.

One of the things I do is stack up people and posts before I leave on vacation. While I don’t advocate automating your entire social media existence, especially as a brand, you can use Hootsuite and other scheduling tools to make sure your followers still get the resources they need. Depending on the rapport you have with your audience, you can even tell them you’ll be taking a few days off .

Next, if you have one or two social media-savvy people in your office, ask them to keep an eye on your accounts. Make sure your social media policy is up-to-date and accessible, and leave your number where you can be reached in dire emergencies. Then take that needed time off and have fun!

Read the article for tips on de-stressing on vacation even if you have to stay somewhat plugged in, and share your tips below! Also check out Meghan M. Biro’s post on the Digital Realities of Work-Life Blending.

Job Seekers: Didn’t Get the Job? How NOT To Follow Up

didnt_get_jobThe last thing you want to do after you didn’t get the job is hand the company a permanent Reject Me letter.

You did everything you were supposed to do.  You researched the company, exhaustively prepared for the interviews, and sent your thank-you emails.

Then you waited (and waited) to hear back, only to receive a form email that wished you well but stated the company had decided to pursue other candidates.

What you should do: Send an email back to your interviewers thanking them for the opportunity and expressing a few favorable points about the interviews and the company.

Why? Because this touch of graciousness in defeat shows you’ve still got the company’s best interests in mind—and that you may just deserve a second look.

To make sure you get the right tone and send the correct message, check out a sample post-rejection letter and tips from The Ladders here.

What you shouldn’t do: Include any of the below points in this email. You may think some of these are achingly obvious, but these examples are taken from real emails that regrettably cannot be printed in full.

Do not:

  • Detail the steps you took in the job candidacy process as evidence of the amount of effort you expended. The company already knows.
  • Deride, disparage, or otherwise  insult your interviewer or anyone else in the company.
  • State what, in your view, “common courtesy” and “the most basic amount of professionalism” required in regard to their treatment of you.
  • Insist that the company should have made a personal call to you instead of sending a form email.
  • Include the phrase “best of luck with that” in response to the company’s hiring another person.
  • State that you’re only sending this email for the principle of the thing versus anger at the company. No one will believe this.
  • End your email after all this with “Thank you for your consideration.” No one will believe that either.
  • Lastly, if you’re going to address your email to a specific person in the subject line, such as “A few thoughts, Brenda,”—don’t send it to several people at once.


Job search can be a thankless, time-consuming, soul-sapping, endless Groundhog Day. You go through so much to get so little in return. You still owe it to yourself to make sure you’re putting the best you forward at all times, and leaving the best impression you can.

This may mean faking your happy feelings and putting your ego on hold, but it’s worth taking the chance to shine once more. Because consider this: While you may think you’ll never darken that company’s door again, “never” is a long time. Management could change. Policy could change. New positions could open in different departments.

But someone, somewhere, will remember your last word. Companies have long memories. Don’t let their last one of you be a “few thoughts” like these.

Additional resources: