Learn How to Ask for a Referral for a Job

employee referral form
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A job referral can be the best way to get your resume a close look from the hiring manager when you are applying for a job. When you're referred for a position, and you mention this 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? What's the best way to ask someone to refer you for a job at their company? 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.

If you're a college graduate, check with your career office to see if they can put you in touch with alumni who work at the company you're interested in.

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.

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.

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:

StartWire helps you tap your professional connections.

You can use the site to 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.

What Else You Need to Know: Getting References for Employment