You have a stellar resume, an awesome cover letter, some great references and plenty of experience. You’re wondering if there’s any other way you can set yourself apart from other applicants when applying for a job.
Whether you’re straight out of college or a veteran in the workforce, having a job referral from someone who currently works at the company you’re applying at will give you an automatic advantage.
As a corporate recruiter, I answer questions every day about job referrals and why they’re so important. Here are my answers and tips on how to ask for a job referral.
Why are job referrals important?
Hiring managers love job referrals because an associate is not going to recommend someone to the company if they don’t think they would be a good fit.
Job referrals grab recruiters’ attention when they’re reviewing candidates. Typically, applicants who have a referral will be looked at more closely than someone who does not.
Who should I ask for a job referral from?
I think it’s OK to ask just about anyone for a job referral. If you know someone who works at the company you’re applying at on a professional level, ask them for a referral first. They will be able to speak to your skills, knowledge and work ethic.
If you know someone at the company on a more personal level – whether it be a family member, a neighbor or a friend – don’t hesitate to ask them for a referral, too. Although they can’t describe your skills, they can vouch for your personality and characteristics.
What’s the best way to ask for a job referral?
This can be tricky – it all depends on your situation. If you’re close with the person you want to ask and you’re certain they will say yes, then ask them in person. Practice how you are going to ask before you do so.
If you aren’t sure if they’ll agree to giving you a referral, if they live far away or if you just aren’t that close to the person, I suggest asking via email, letter or LinkedIn.
My number-one piece of advice is to give the person the opportunity to say no. Some people just aren’t comfortable with giving referrals, and you need to respect that.
What do I say when asking for a job referral?
When asking someone for a job referral, tell them what kind of job you’re applying for and why you’re interested in the position. Offer to share your resume and experience with them so they are confident when giving the referral that you would be a great fit for the company.
Also, take advantage of the conversation you’re having with the person you’re asking for a job referral from. Ask them if they have time to answer some questions, including:
- How long have you been at the company and what is your role?
- Why do you like the company?
- What is the culture like there?
- Why would you recommend I work there?
- Do you have any advice if I do get a job interview with the company?
If you ask these questions, you can then take your findings to a job interview with you. When asked in the interview, “What do you know about the company?” you can respond by saying you spoke with someone who works at the company and this is what you learned…
This really impresses hiring managers because it shows them you took the time to do research about the company.
What should I do after asking for a job referral?
If the person who you asked for the referral from says yes, send a thank-you card. Be appreciative that they are going out of their way to help you.
If the person says they will not give you a referral, ask if they would be willing to just talk with you about the company. You can ask them the questions I listed above. This can still give you a one-up in the interview.