How to Mention a Referral in Your Cover Letter
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 for good reason: studies have shown that hiring through employee referral is faster, cheaper, and more effective than relying on job sites. Referral hires also tend to get up to speed more quickly, fit in better, and stay at the company longer.
A referral cover letter can make the difference in helping your application get noticed by prospective employers. It also gives the hiring manager some context for your work and provides additional information about you.
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 helps the hiring manager relate your experience 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. Even if you’re certain they’d vouch for you, giving a potential referral a heads-up ensures that they’ll be able to offer the best possible recommendation, given the job requirements.
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?
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. Be sure to tailor your letter to fit your personal and professional circumstances.
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.
Read More: How to Ask for a Referral for a Job
Sample: Cover Letter Based on a Referral
|Michael Ram, MSW, LCSW, C-ACYFSW|
525 Tops Road
March 8, 2009
Ahmad Abu-Taa, MSW, LCSW, ACSW
Social Work Department
St. Mary’s Treatment Center
854 Bell Road
Dallas, Texas 66524
Dear Mr. Abu-Taa:
Suzanne Patel, Director of the Family Center in Chicago, suggested that I contact you regarding your opening for a social worker in day treatment. I am currently working at the Family Center where Ms. Patel is my supervisor, but in May, I will be returning to Dallas where I used to live. I’m looking for opportunities to work with at-risk youth and families and would like to be considered for the position.
In addition to holding an MSW degree, I have training and experience in day treatment, pediatric social work, and women’s and children’s services. At the day treatment program for the Family Center in Chicago, I have spent the past five years working in a culturally diverse setting, handling assessments, participating in treatment delivery, and providing therapy for at-risk youth and their families. Prior to this, I was Volunteer Service and Children’s Program Coordinator for the Women’s Shelter in Dallas
Ms. Patel highly recommended the Day Treatment Center and said she believes my skills and background make me an excellent fit for the organization. It is also my understanding that your staff has initiated several programs that are considered models for working with culturally diverse populations. I am committed to working with culturally and underserved populations and welcome the opportunity to do so at St. Mary’s Treatment Center.
Enclosed is my résumé for your review. I will call your office within the next week to schedule an interview. If you prefer to contact me, I can be reached at 863-767-2498 or by email at email@example.com. Thank you for your consideration.
Michael Ram, MSW, LCSW, C-ACYFSW
Copyrighted material reprinted with permission from the NASW Press.
The Social Work Career Development: A Handbook for Job Hunting and Career Planning book is available through the NASW Press.