One of the surest ways to grab an employer’s attention is to get a referral for the job. In fact, PayScale research shows that one-third of workers received a referral for their current position. And no wonder—if you were a hiring manager, wouldn’t you rather hire someone who comes recommended than take a chance on a stranger?
But simply getting a referral isn’t enough.
To maximize the benefits, you have to make sure that the hiring manager knows that you’ve been referred.
The best way to do that is to mention it in your cover letter. It’s the ideal place to share your referral’s name and the context you know them in.
Tips for Cover Letters That Get the Hiring Manager’s Attention
- Be professional. Your cover letter should be written as a formal business letter, whether it’s sent as an attachment, via mail, or email. An attachment or mailed letter should begin with your contact information, the date, and the hiring manager’s contact information. An email cover letter should include the referral in the subject line of the message.
- Start on the right foot. Begin your letter with a salutation followed by the hiring manager’s name. Mention your referral in the first paragraph of your cover letter, with a brief explanation of your connection.
- Show your interest. Next, mention what interests you about the position, and why you’re qualified for the job. Let your passion show. Employers want to hire candidates who are enthusiastic about the job.
- Say thank you. Make sure you thank the person for their time and consideration, and use an appropriate cover letter closing, followed by your signature (for a printed letter) and typed full name. In an email, your contact information would follow your typed name.
- Use cover letter samples. Your cover letter may be the first thing the hiring manager sees so you need to make a good impression. Review these cover letter samples for a variety of scenarios including a follow-up letter, inquiry letters, job/industry specific sample cover letters, cold contact, and referral letter samples. Be sure to customize your letter for every job application.
- Proofread, edit, and test before sending. Your final product should be typo-free and professionally formatted before you send it to the hiring team.
If you’re sending your cover letter via email, send yourself a test message before you email the employer.
That way, you can be sure that your formatting holds up in transmission and that there are no funny gaps or missing words in the final copy.
Cover Letter Example With a Referral
This is an example of a cover letter with a referral. Download the referral cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.
Cover Letter Example With a Referral (Text Version)
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
September 1, 2018
123 Business Rd.
Business City, NY 54321
Dear Mr. Maximillian,
I am writing to express my interest in the International Sales position open at Rubymax, Inc. I am very familiar with your products and would welcome the opportunity to speak with you about how I could help increase your International presence.
My colleague Joe Smith recommended that I contact you directly about this position. Joe and I have worked closely in the industry for many years, and he thought that I would be a good match for Rubymax.
My ten years of experience marketing widgets internationally have given me an overall knowledge of the business, directly applicable to your interest in increasing sales abroad.
In my previous position as International Sales Rep with ZQR Company, I successfully increased our revenue in each of my territories by over 50 percent within my first year. In the five years I spent at ZQR, I helped to establish sales bases in an additional five countries, while continuing to increase revenue in all.
Please take the time to review my resume. I believe that I am an excellent candidate for the position you have advertised, and would very much like the opportunity to meet with you discuss what I have to offer Rubymax, Inc. I truly appreciate your consideration.
Signature (hard copy letter)
Email Cover Letter With a Referral
Subject: Referred by Sloane Greene
Dear Ms. Future,
I am writing to you in regard to the position of billing manager that you have posted on your company website. I worked with Sloane Greene in the billing department of XYZ Enterprises for several years before taking a hiatus to raise my children.
When I mentioned I was returning to the workforce, she recommended I contact you about this position, as she felt that I would be an excellent fit for your organization.
At XYZ, I worked closely with Sloane to convert our billing system to handle the increase in sales volume the company was experiencing. I oversaw the seamless transition when our deliverables doubled in less than 6 months. I have successfully managed both small and large billing departments but am most comfortable in an environment like that at your company. I feel that my experience would be an asset to Bright Enterprises and would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you regarding the open position.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
If You Have a Referral, Say So Right Up Front: Include it in your cover letter and be sure to feature it in the first paragraph.
Use Cover Letters Samples to Guide Your Writing: But be sure to customize your cover letter for the specific job.
Be Professional: Use business-letter format and be sure to proofread your final draft before sending.
Say Thank You: Thank the hiring manager for their time and be sure to send thank-you notes to people who give you a referral, as well as to interviewers once you’ve met with them.