How to Ask for a Job Referral

A good job reference can be an essential part of the job search process.

A good job reference can be an essential part of the job search process.

Asking someone to vouch for you doesn’t come easily for everyone, but having a person willing to speak on your behalf can help you get the job. Get job referrals from people who will present you and the qualities you have in a positive light. Many employers rely on recommendations from current employees when filling vacant positions, and getting some inside information gives you the chance to find out more about a company before you are invited to interview.

Choose a person who has recent knowledge of your skills and abilities. This person needs to know what you have to offer as well as what the employer looks for in an applicant. If a referral offers advice on how to apply for a job where he works, appreciate that he's putting his own credibility on the line with the employer.

Send a letter reminding the person who you are. Explain the reason for your letter and ask if she feels comfortable giving you a job referral. Approaching the person first in writing avoids putting her on the spot with your request.

State the purpose for your letter. Whether the person works for the organization himself or has connections there, ask if he might be willing to put in a good word for you. Give reasons why you think you would make the right match for the company. If you present your case convincingly, your contact at the company may let you know about a specific job that you might qualify for even before the vacancy is advertised.

Include a resume with your letter. An updated resume gives the person current information about you, especially if you’ve been out of touch for a while. Highlight job experiences, education and accomplishments that pertain to the type of position you want at the company. Draw special attention to any skills you have that apply.

Follow up with a telephone call, email or visit after you send your letter. If the person responds to your request, set up a casual meeting to find out more about the company. Use the opportunity to market your skills and job experience. Let the person know exactly how you can contribute to the company. Think of it as a practice job interview.

Thank the person for his time and willingness to give you a job referral. Send a thank you note even before you know whether or not you got the job. Stay in touch afterward in case you need to ask him to make a referral for you again. Offer to return the favor one day.

 

About the Author

Amber Keefer has more than 25 years of experience working in the fields of human services and health care administration. Writing professionally since 1997, she has written articles covering business and finance, health, fitness, parenting and senior living issues for both print and online publications. Keefer holds a B.A. from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. in health care management from Baker College.

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