How To Ask for a Referral for a Job

employee referral form
Copyright LYAO/E+/Getty Images

A job referral can be the best way to get your resume a close look from the hiring manager. When you're referred for a position, and you mention it 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. Chris Forman, CEO, StartWire, says "Referrals are the #1 source of hires in corporate America.

And for good reason. Research shows that 'referral' hires not only stay longer in their jobs but perform better over the long term. Anytime you can get your application tagged as 'referral', your chances of getting to an interview sky rocket. And getting this designation is easier than you think... often times a phone call or email to HR or the hiring manager is all it takes."

How can you get a referral for a job? 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.

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

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.

It's better to ask in writing, whichever way you choose, instead of 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.

What not to say when you ask: 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.

What to say when you ask: The problem can be what they are going 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.

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 on your skills and experiences so the reference provider has current information to work with.

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 saying thank you for a job referral.

Where to Find People to Refer You

There are also other websites you can use, in addition to LinkedIn, to easily find your connections at companies:

CareerSonar enables job seekers to find job listings that are available within their social and professional networks.

You can then leverage your connections in those networks to assist with your job hunt.

StartWire helps you tap your professional connections. You can ask your Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections to help you with the job. When you search for jobs, you can see the connections you have at companies, and then send them a message to see if they can help.

Use's Who Do I Know? tool and you can see who you are connected with on LinkedIn and Facebook at companies of interest. Those connections may be glad to give you a referral.

What Else You Need to Know: Getting References for Employment