Referral Email Samples for Career Networking

Referral letter
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One of the best ways to get hired is through networking, and a referral can improve your prospects of getting career assistance, finding solid job leads, and securing an interview. Jobvite's 2021 Job Seeker Nation reports that 77% of workers have shared job listings on social media, 82% have clicked on a listing posted by someone in their network, and 38% have participated in a company's referral program.

If you haven’t tapped into your network yet, you may be overlooking the key to landing the job of your dreams. But you’ll never know for sure unless you reach out and ask for a referral.

Expand Your Professional Network

This often means going beyond your immediate network and contacting people who share a mutual acquaintance with someone you know. Referral letters are a perfect way to ask these more distant connections for job leads, career advice, and contacts at employers.

Even if your letter doesn’t immediately lead to a new job, it can expand your network, which increases your chances of hearing about the next opportunity that would be perfect for you.

A referral letter might also net you valuable career advice or a brand-new mentor who can guide you to new levels in your field.

Of course, if you’re not in the habit of hitting up relative strangers for help, this can feel a little uncomfortable at first. It’s useful to have a template in mind, to make things easier.

But first, a few tips on what your referral letter should contain—and what it shouldn’t.

Melissa Ling. © The Balance 2018

Tips for Sending a Referral Letter

  • Emphasize the mutual acquaintance. Whether you’re hoping for a job lead or just some tips on moving to a new area or field, it’s a good idea to start by mentioning the connection you have in common. We’re all busy; letting the recipient know where you’re coming from will help them prioritize your letter. If you’re looking for a job, referring to a mutual acquaintance will give you an advantage over the other applicants. In the working world, often it’s the “who you know” that can make the difference between getting an interview and having your resume passed by.

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

  • Use your subject line to your advantage. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to use “Referred by” with the name of your mutual acquaintance to identify your connection.
  • Format it as a business letter. This is a professional means of communication, which means that a business letter format will make the best impression. Again, if you choose to email, be sure to make your subject line clear, so your letter isn’t deleted as trash before it gets read.
  • Get right to the point. When writing to someone to ask for job search help, it’s especially important to be professional, get right to the point of your letter, and be appreciative of any time they are willing to give you.
  • Proofread your work. Better yet, have a family member or trusted friend proofread it for you. It’s hard to see your own mistakes, but the recipient will probably spot them right away. Fairly or not, it will affect the recipient's opinion of you.
  • Be sure to send a follow-up thank-you note. Reach out to the mutual contact who referred you, and send them a note to thank them for their time and effort.

Referral Letter Example

You can use this sample as a model to write a referral letter. Download the template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online), or read the text version below.

sample referral letter for career networking

Referral Letter Example (Text Version)

Lydia Applicant
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 1234
5555-555-5555
lydia.applicant@email.com

July 26, 2021

Veruca Lee
Talent Coordinator
Acme Theater
123 Business Road
Business City, NY 54321

Dear Ms. Lee,

I am a friend of Janice Dolan and she encouraged me to forward my resume to you. I know Janice through the Brandon Theater Group, where I am the technical director. We worked together on several local theater projects.

I'm interested in relocating to the San Francisco area in the near future. I would appreciate any recommendations you can offer for conducting a job search for a theater position or finding job leads, and any help you can provide with the logistics of relocating to California.

My resume is attached. Most of my theatrical experience is in lighting and projection design; however, I have worked in most backstage areas during my career.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Signature (hard copy letter)

Lydia Applicant

Referral Email Example

Here's an example of an email message requesting a referral.

Referral Email Example

Subject: Referred by Chris Rogers

Dear Ms. Weiss,

My colleague Chris Rogers recommended I contact you to find out if you had any recommendations regarding employment in the publishing industry in New York. I am currently employed at Polar Publishing House as an assistant marketing director.

I would be thankful for any advice you have regarding my job search. I would greatly appreciate it if you would review my resume, and I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you at your convenience.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

Betsy Billings