Employee Referral Cover Letter Sample

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"It's not what you know, but who you know," as the saying goes and there's significant truth to that. Many companies encourage and reward their employees for referring job candidates. The fact is that hiring via referral is cheaper, faster and more effective than hiring through job sites or recruiting. Candidates who come recommended are often better qualified, more loyal and a better fit for the team.

It makes sense: if you were the hiring manager, would you rather interview a candidate with no connection to the company, or one that comes recommended by a current employee in good standing? The latter person is more likely to know what it’s like to work for the company – plus, the employee who referred them probably understands that their reputation is at stake. Most likely, they’d avoid referring someone who was less than qualified.  

The Power of Using Employee Referrals in Your Cover Letter

Referred candidates are hired about two-thirds of the time, according to a survey from iCIMS, a talent solutions provider. It doesn't matter what type of position your contact holds, it's simply the connection and referral he makes for you.

Companies also believe that an applicant referred by an internal source will have a better chance of fitting in with the company and its culture and thus enjoy their work more.

More than half of employees make referrals. That same survey showed that 60 percent of employees have referred at least one person to an open job and 38 percent have referred multiple candidates.

Referrals from higher-ups seal the deal. Contact top executives as referrals for the best result. According to the survey data, 91 percent of referrals from someone at the director level were hired, versus 53 percent of hired referrals from an entry-level employee.

How to Write a Cover Letter Mentioning an Employee Referral

  • Ask for a referral. This might seem obvious – of course you’ll ask for a referral before you name-drop a current employee in your letter! – but it’s important that your connection be clued in before you send your cover letter. Bottom line, you want them to be prepared to sing your praises when the hiring manager asks for their opinion. (Also: there’s always the chance that they’ll say no… or that they’ll advise you not to apply, for reasons that only an insider would know.)
  • Give your referrer the details. And speaking of singing your praises, your contact can only do that if you let them know which job you’re applying for. Don’t assume that just because they work at the organization, they’ll know what the job entails. Share the job description, and match the requirements to your qualifications. This will give them some talking points to keep in their back pocket, in case they’re asked about you.
  • Provide a copy of the cover letter. Forward your email or give your contact a physical copy of your cover letter, for their reference.
  • Say thank you. Whether the employee is writing a referral letter or merely agreeing to be included in your cover letter, it’s important to say thank you. Send a thank-you note or email to let them know that you appreciate their help. They’ll appreciate the gesture and it will strengthen your connection.

    Sample Employee Referral Cover Letter

    Dear Ms. Green,

    I am writing in reference to the position of Youth Counselor at the Sunnyside Group Home. I have the pleasure of being acquainted with one of the Counselors on your staff, Eleanor Seville. Eleanor and I did our undergraduate work together at Sunnyville University and have been in touch professionally and personally since then.

    She let me know about the open position and recommended that I contact you.

    I have been working with at-risk youths for 15 years, and have found the experience extremely rewarding. I have counseled young people with a variety of challenges, including family situations, drug use, eating disorders and behavioral issues. My experience makes me well suited to help the residents at Sunnyside learn and grow in a protected environment.

    While I have experience in working with all ages, I believe that the adolescent population at your facility would benefit from the knowledge I gained during the past five years while working in Student Services at Sunnyville High School. I was recognized by the District as "Outstanding Teen Leader 2009" for the After-School Job Mentoring program I developed and implemented with the cooperation of several local businesses.

    I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss what I have to bring to the position at Sunnyside. Thank you for reviewing my attached resume.

    Regards,

    Stephanie Smith

    Additional Cover Letter Samples
    Review sample cover letters for a variety of scenarios including a follow-up letter, inquiry letters, industry-specific sample cover letters, cold contact and referral letter samples.

    More About Referrals: How Employee Referral Programs Work