How to Ask for a Referral for a Job

Employee referral form
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What's a job referral? How can a referral help you get hired, and what's the best way to ask someone to refer you for a job that you're interested in applying for?

A job referral can be the best way to get a hiring manager to give your resume a closer look when you are applying for a job. Jobvite's Recruiter Nation Report says that employee referrals follow internal hires on the list of top-rated hiring sources. Job boards are third on the list. While a survey from Erin reports that employee referrals are five times more likely to be hired.

When you're referred for a position by someone at a company or by a connection you have in common with the hiring manager, and you mention this referral in your cover letter, you've got a built-in recommendation for the job in the first paragraph.

It's even better when the person referring you for a job can take a couple of minutes to personally mention you to the hiring manager.

How can you get a referral for a job? What's the best way to ask someone to refer you for a job at their company?

Who to Ask for a Referral

The best type of referral for a job is an employee referral. However, clients, vendors, friends, family, and other people who are connected to the company may be able to assist, as well.

If you know anyone who is affiliated with the company, ask them if they can put in a good word for you.

There are a variety of strategies you can use to find connections at a company who can refer you for a job.

How to Find Someone to Refer You

Use LinkedIn: Start by checking for connections at the company on LinkedIn. Search by company name, then click on the company you're interested in. You'll see a list of contacts in your network who may be able to assist.

Check With Your College Career or Alumni Office: If you're a college graduate, check with your college career services office or alumni office to see if they can put you in touch with alumni who work at the company you're interested in.

Ask Your Network. If you're employed, and of course, you want to do this carefully, check with your friends and professional contacts to see if they know anybody at the company who could help.

How to Ask for a Referral for a Job

What's the best way to ask for a referral? You can ask for a referral by sending an old-fashioned letter, an email message, or a message on a networking site like LinkedIn or Facebook. 

Ask in Writing

Whichever way you chose, it's better to ask in writing than over the phone. That way, the potential referrer has time to think over if and how they can refer you for a job. It's also easier to decline in writing than during a phone conversation.

Ask if They Can Refer You (and Give Them an Out)

When you ask someone to refer you, don't ask: "Could you write a reference letter for me?" or "Can you refer me?" Just about anyone can write a letter or say they'll refer you.

The problem can be what they are going to say. Rather, ask: "Do you feel you know my work well enough to refer me for a job at your company?" or "Do you feel you could give me a referral?" That way, your referrer has an out if they are not comfortable providing a referral for you, and you can be assured that those who say "yes" will be enthusiastic about your performance and will write a positive letter or give you a strong endorsement.

Offer to Share Your Credentials

Especially when you don't know the person you're asking very well, or if they aren't familiar with your current work history, offer to provide an updated copy of your resume and information about your skills and experiences, so the reference provider has current information to work with.

Employer Referral Programs

Don't be shy about asking. The person who refers you may be able to earn some extra cash if you're hired. Many employers have employee referral programs that provide bonuses for referring candidates for employment.

If you're a strong candidate, it's a win-win-win situation. You get the job, the employer gets a top-notch new employee, and the employee who referred you gets a bonus.

Request for a Referral Example

Here's a sample email message asking for a referral to a job.

Sample Email Referral Request

Subject: Request for a Referral

Dear Janice,

I hope all is well with you and your family! I’ve been exploring career options, and I’ve found a position that seems like it would be a perfect fit at ABC Company. The job is for a marketing coordinator in the New York City office.

I have significant experience in marketing in the tech industry, and I’ve attached a copy of my current resume for your review. I was hoping you would be able to refer me for the job, as well as share any insight you might have into the hiring and selection process.

Thanks so much for your consideration, and if you need any further information, please let me know.

Best,

Tony

......

Anthony Clappard
anthony.clappard@email.com
555-111-1212

More Referral Letter Examples

Not sure how to ask for a referral? Review examples of referral letters for suggestions on asking for a referral, using referrals in your cover letters, and sending a thank you note after receiving a job referral.