Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
JOB SEARCH / APR. 26, 2014
version 4, draft 4

How To Ask For a Job Referral

We've all heard the saying, 'it's all about who you know'. Well, in the case of job referrals; this may very well be the case. Job referrals are when someone recommends you for a specific position. They will contact the decision maker on your behalf, increasing your chances of landing an interview or the position.

If you're unemployed, you're most likely actively searching for a position. If a position at your ideal job opens up, a referral would be an excellent advantage. In order to ask for a referral, you would need to contact someone who; currently works with the company, worked for the company in the past or is directly related in some way (supplier, contractor or vendor).

Your contact would; introduce the decision maker to your qualifications and/or set a meeting up. This way, you will be able to directly speak to the decision maker. As long as you are fully qualified, this is a great way to increase your chances of success.

Asking For a Referral

When it comes to a referral, anyone could technically refer you. This is not exactly what you want. It is ideal that your contact would know enough about you, and your work to pass on an accurate depiction of your qualifications. Here are some of the ways in which you could ask for a referral:

  1. If your contact is someone you know well, great. It is easy to ask them, you're more comfortable calling them. You may even see them on a regular basis. If this is the case, just make sure that they're referring you in a professional light. If it's a close friend, make sure they discuss your professional accomplishments, not your friendship. This can definitely be a large advantage (if your close contact is in the right position within the company).
  2. When contacting someone you don't really know, approach them in a more professional manner. If you are contacting someone from your LinkedIn contacts for example, simply send them a message or email. Don't message them and say, 'can you write a referral for me'? Simply ask if they know enough about your work, and if they're comfortable referring you for the position you desire. If you're a writer for instance, make sure it's someone who has read your work. A positive recommendation letter can really help your chances.

LinkedIn is a great resource to make professional contacts. If you have not already set-up a professional profile, it is suggested that you do so. It is a great way to expand your professional network. 

Once You Have Established a Contact

Depending on your circumstance, your referral may occur in different ways. Here are some of the options for varying scenarios;

  • If your contact is long-distance or doesn't have a strong personal relationship with the company, a letter of recommendation is a good idea. You can ask your contact to write a letter describing your capabilities to fulfil a specific position. As well, a letter of recommendation is always great to have for future reference. If a letter is being mailed or personally handed over; include your CV and cover letter.
  • You can also ask your contact to make a phone call to the decision maker. This can be a fast and effective method. Not only will your contact speak to the potential employer directly, you will have the most recent updates regarding the position. If they like what you have to offer and want you to speak to them, do so immediately. If you call directly after, you will ensure that your name is still fresh in his/her mind. Making a personal introduction can be the most difficult part. If you are confident in yourself, the position could easily be yours at that point.

Whether your contact recommends you by; phone, in-person, email or mail, make sure they know the correct information. It is important that they relay key points. For instance, if you're applying for an advertising position, it's important to mention you've worked in advertising for six years.

Why Referrals Increase Your Chances of Getting Hired

If your cover letter mentions a referral or someone speaks on your behalf; your chances of getting an interview and obtaining the position increase.

  • A referral not only makes your life easier, it makes the decision makers life easier as well. If someone approaches the decision maker with an incredible candidate, the searching process for him/her is over. It is understandable why referrals would be welcomed.
  • Referrals tend to be fairly solid. Not only are they generally qualified, they are known to stay longer (benefiting the company). As well, employees will often refer people from their professional or social network. This employee already has experience with the prospective hire; having familiarity with their work ethic, experience and accomplishments.

Don't be shy in terms of a referral. If you have a connection within a company, utilise this advantage. If you are a good fit for the position, you being referred to the company allows for everyone to win. You can obtain the position you desire, and the company will gain a strong employee. When asking for a referral, remember to be professional and respectful. As long as you have a strong contact, your referral will greatly increase your chances of obtaining that job you've been searching for. 


Photo credit: Flickr

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