I've gotten a few questions on recommendations, references, and referrals. This is where the informal recommendation can be critical. Many of the best jobs in the industry are never advertised. People just call friends or ask around for "someone good." I did that at Warner, for example, and friends of mine do it now on top shows and companies. One reason is that many offices don't have formal HR departments, and no one wants to take time from their own work to do a wide search, not when a few calls will get many, many names. This leads to another problem - finding good people when doing a limited search. And you often end up with someone's idiot nephew from doing it this way. That does not help you if your uncle or aunt is not in the business. What you have to be is to be the person that someone thinks of if an opportunity comes up. Recently I had someone ask me for some good people for a network gig. And I referred someone, and he got the position. You have to be the first one people think of when they do hear of an opportunity. That's why you need to form a network, a strong one where people think well of you. The first step is to reach out and let many, many, many people know that you are looking, because you never know where a break may come from.
Keep in the mind that generally someone referring you takes a risk. If I refer someone who does a bad job, I look bad, and I can burn a contact. It's happened before. That's why most people as a rule won't do it. It’s often easier not to do so. Keep that in mind when someone actually does.