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Career Conversations - Eric Hernandez

Presented by the Career Management Center at Stuart School of Business

The Power of Referrals

Eric Hernandez

By Eric Hernandez, Customer Success Manager, CareerBuilder

Editor’s Note: In a previous Career Conversations post, “Navigating Your Way Through an Employer’s Applicant Tracking System,” Eric Hernandez explained how the platforms typically used by employment sites work and provided valuable tips for applicants on how to get through the levels of “knock-out questions” and resume reading software used to screen applicants. In this post, he examines another strategy for reaching the goal of having a company recruiter read your resume and cover letter.


Have you ever completed an online application or submitted your resume to a potential employer and have the sense it fell into a black hole? As a consultant recruiter for many years, and now at CareerBuilder as a customer success manager (CSM) working alongside corporate human resources partners on their applicant tracking systems, I have gathered some tips to help you navigate your application through these systems so that your resume is read by a human. Having the opportunity to explain our skills in person is the stepping stone we all need.

The best case scenario is to find someone at the company that has a job you are seeking and then ask that person to share a referral link from the company’s applicant tracking system with you. Most referral links get sent by the software as a service, or SaaS, platform that runs the company’s employment site to separate application containers for company recruiters to harvest from.

Referral Through a Third Party Vendor

Another creative way to navigate your resume, as a referral, is to try to find out which third party vendor handles the SaaS platform for the company you are applying to. SaaS platforms typically have a CSM or sales rep whose goal is to get the client company to renew their SaaS subscription. Try to find a CSM or sales rep at the vendor and connect with them. 

Keep in mind that the vendor’s goal is to provide the company with a good return on investment from the SaaS platform, and they do that by helping their client fill that open job. You might be just the right candidate to do that! 

Knowing or figuring out the name of the company that is the SaaS vendor is the first hurdle to jump. You might find the company’s name listed somewhere on the career or job search web page. If so, you are on your way, and here are some tips for tracking down a specific CSM or sales representative at the vendor who can help you.

  • Narrow your search—Most companies or organizations have a structure where they have divided accounts into regions or industries (e.g., commercial, consumer services, small business, healthcare, etc.). Continue your search online using LinkedIn, Zoom info, or basic Google search to try to connect or reach out to a sales rep or account manager in that subdivision.
  • Trial and error—This is a similar approach to take after you have exhausted your search by structure. Begin connecting or reaching out to any account manager or CSM. Explore and journey until someone points you in the right direction. 
  • Trickle down effect—Try to connect or reach out to the directors or senior managers in those divisions. In most instances they will put you right in front of the client, but they will help point you in the right direction by connecting you or passing you along to the correct account manager. 

I know all of these hurdles can sound exhausting. For inspiration, though, keep in mind the life story of Benjamin Franklin. His success didn’t come without challenge, mistakes, and in a few cases failure. With hard work, persistence, and the spirit to win, Franklin took on every obstacle and became one of history’s greatest revolutionary men.


Eric Hernandez spent eight years working for a private staffing company as an account manager and lead recruiter. As a first generation immigrant, he has a passion to mentor young professionals to find their career path. With his strong network of financial institutions, Eric excels at guiding new graduates into their first employment opportunity. Currently, he is at CareerBuilder as a customer success manager, working enthusiastically with high-profile clients optimizing and automating their business processes. When he is not working, you can catch Eric cheering on his favorite team, the Chicago Cubs.

Posted February 12, 2021

Career Conversations is presented by the Stuart School of Business Career Management Center.

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