A referral is someone who recommends you for a particular job. Colleagues, people employed by the hiring company and former teachers can all be appropriate referrals. With their permission, you can mention the name of a referral in your cover letter. When you add a referral to your cover letter, it can make a positive first impression and help move your application ahead in the hiring process.
How to include a referral in your cover letter
Add your referral to your cover letter’s introduction. You should catch the hiring manager’s attention, and a referral is a great way to do this. This also creates an instant personal connection between you and the company.
Follow these steps to include a referral in your cover letter:
1. First, ask for your referral’s approval
You must get approval before adding that individual’s name to your cover letter. By doing so, you are confirming that they are happy to recommend you for the job.
If they tell you about the position, you have an opportunity to ask whether you can use their name as a referral. If you see a job posting first, call them and ask whether they would mind giving you a referral. Discuss the position, the company and why your contact thinks you are a good candidate. Your referral is staking their reputation on you, so be sure to thank them.
2. Next, mention the referral by name
Mention your referral by their full name. This takes away any confusion about who they are. If their name is common, you might also add details about how the hiring manager may know them. Do not use their nickname, even if they are commonly known by this. Double-check the spelling of their first and last name.
3. Then, explain your connection to your referral
Note whether your referral is a former or current colleague or a person connected to you in some other way. Explaining your connection gives the hiring manager some context for the referral.
4. Next, describe why the person referred you
Explain why your referral feels you are suitable for the position. This provides an opportunity to outline your strengths. If you have worked with your referral before, provide a brief explanation of this working relationship. If your referral is a former teacher, you can note the relevant course. Mention any experiences or skills your referral witnessed that might be applicable to the position. If this person works at the hiring company, note any qualities they think you have that would suit the business culture.
5. Last, send a copy of your cover letter to your referral
It is a good idea to send a copy of your cover letter to your referral. When they know exactly what you have written, they will not be surprised by anything the hiring manager says to them about your application or relationship. It will also help your referral prepare for what they might want to say if the hiring manager has any follow-up questions for them.
Cover letter referral examples
Every referral is different, as it reflects your personal relationship with that particular contact. However, the following cover letter referral examples can help you write your own:
Dear Ms. Gutherson,
I was excited to hear about the opening in your engineering department from one of your lead engineers, Dale Forrest. Before joining your company, Dale worked with me for five years on the engineering team at Practical Software Solutions. During that time, Dale praised me for my attention to detail and creative problem-solving skills. Dale said he felt those skills would make me an excellent addition to your engineering team.
Dear Mr. Lane,
Your receptionist Kelly Price suggested I contact you about your vacant social worker position. I met Kelly last year when she began volunteering with me at a local soup kitchen, Soul Food. Working closely together allowed her to see my ability to connect with others and my compassion for people with financial hardships and mental health difficulties.
Dear Ms. Nelson,
I was thrilled to hear about the vacant position on your design team from Hayley Saunders. Hayley and I completed a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design at the University of Central Oklahoma together in 2003 and have remained close friends. She felt my creativity and 10 years’ experience working as a designer in the media industry would make me a natural fit for the role with you at Parent and Baby Monthly Magazine.