Referral Cover Letters for All Types of Jobs

How to Mention a Recommendation in Your Cover Letter

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A referral can help you stand out from the crowd when you are applying for a job. Hiring managers and recruiters are more likely to take a closer look at candidates with whom they share a mutual contact, and a referral cover letter can make the difference in helping your application get noticed by prospective employers.

Mentioning a mutual connection gives the hiring manager some context for your work and provides additional information about you.

This name dropping can help secure both an interview and, possibly, a recommendation for the job.

What is a Referral Cover Letter?

A referral cover letter is used to mention a mutual connection when applying for a job. You might be referred by a colleague, a friend, an employee at the company you’re interested in, or even your college career office. Having a referral to mention in your cover letter gives the hiring manager additional information to help relate your experiences to the open position, and can provide some insight into how well you might fit in at the company. Your cover letter is your opportunity to highlight your education, skills and qualifications for the job. In addition to your referral, you will have the chance to mention a few specific examples of why you are the best candidate for the position, and give more detail than you can on your resume.

How to Get a Referral

The referral doesn't have to be a business connection.

You can ask anyone you know at the company or who has a contact at the company if they would recommend you for a job. Just be sure to check with the individual in advance and ask if they are willing to give you a referral. You can send a letter or email asking for a referral, which will give the person the time and opportunity to think through what they can do for you, and how to proceed.

How to Mention a Referral in a Cover Letter

When you use a referral in your cover letter, you should mention it in the first paragraph. Include the individual by name and describe your connection with them as well. Give a brief account of how you know the person, in what context, and for how long you have been acquainted.

In addition, if the person recommended that you apply for this particular position, take the opportunity to mention why they are endorsing you. What qualities of yours made them think that you would be a good fit for the company?

For example:

My colleague Amy Smith recommended that I contact you directly about this position. Amy and I have worked closely in the industry for many years, and she thought that ABC Inc. would be a good fit for my style and experience in sales. She pointed out that as a successful, award winning salesperson I would be an excellent addition to the sales team at ABC Inc.

Referral Cover Letter Tips

Name dropping does not come easily to some people, especially if you're already struggling with how to write about your accomplishments and sell yourself to a hiring manager.

For this reason, it is often helpful to look at examples of cover letters.

You should include a brief mention of the recommendation right away in the letter. This strategy puts the referral in the front of the reader's mind, giving them context for what follows. This leaves you plenty of space to expand on your strengths and why you're the best candidate for the job. Your cover letter is your chance to make a strong first impression, since it is likely the first thing a hiring manager will see, possibly even before your resume. Take the opportunity to impress them with your contact and their recommendation, and then go on to show examples of your successes in the workplace to prove that you are the most qualified person for the job.

As with all your business correspondence, make sure that you proofread your cover letter for correct spelling and grammar, and check that the information matches on all the documents you submit. 

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