How to Ask for a Job Referral: The Best Job Referral Request I Have Ever Received

Stephanie Manwaring
4 min readDec 26, 2018

Update: I got so many kind messages from readers who have had high success rates with this way of asking for a referral so I have updated this post to include a template.

Getting a personal referral for a job is huge and can greatly increase your chances of making it past the resume review.

I get a couple messages a week from people in my professional networks asking me to pass their resume on as a referral to the hiring team at my job. This is a reality for a many professionals across many fields.

The people who reach out to me have a wide range of experience, from junior to senior level professionals. Candidates also range in how well they know me from very close to not at all.

After reading dozens of messages that are carefully (or not so carefully) written I would like to share a message that stood out and actually got me excited to pass along the candidate’s information. I’ll also share a template for that message.

I received the message from an alumni of the school I attended. I didn’t know him at all, the only connection we had was our school. So far it is the best job referral request I have ever received.

Here is the job referral request (via LinkedIn messaging):

— — — — — — — — —

Hi Stephanie,

I attended Fullstack Academy in the October 2018 cohort. I came across the Frontend Engineer role at SquareSpace and am interested in applying. Would you be open to sharing my resume with the hiring team so they know about my interest in this role? Happy to chat more if you have the time. Looking forward to hearing from you.

— Tom

(Then he included a link to role and attached his resume)

— — — — — — — — —

I was silent-clapping in my mind after I read it.

It is simple.

It is to the point.

It includes a link to the job listing he wanted to be referred to (which means I didn’t have to follow up to ask) and all relevant files. This is HUGE.

He didn’t ask to meet me for coffee just to ask for a referral in the end. There is value in coffee chats in certain situations, but I don’t think learning about the company or asking for a referral is necessarily one of them (phone chats can usually do the trick). He did leave room for a “chat” at the end, but I already knew exactly what he needed from me after the second sentence of his message. We didn’t end up chatting, by the way.

I’ve seen and received (and likely sent in my day) some strangely complex messages asking for referrals. Some connections feel the need to create a really strong connection with me before they ask which can come off as a bit forward and desperate. I’m always happy to talk to a candidate, but it definitely helps when the purpose of the message is loud and clear.

Overall it’s a well-constructed, brief message that really did the trick and was so good I had to write about it.

My response to his message?

Happy to!

The Referral Template

I feel like this example is a powerful template for how to simply and directly ask someone to refer you to a job. Here is the template breakdown that you can repurpose for any role, in any field, for any network situation:

— — — — — — — — —

Hi [insert name of contact],

[insert what you have in common with person you are reaching out to (i.e., “I attended NYU and recently moved to Ohio.”]. I came across the [name of role you are applying to (can also make it a hyperlink)] role at [Company name] and am interested in applying. Would you be open to sharing my resume with the hiring team so they know about my interest in this role? Happy to chat more if you have the time. Looking forward to hearing from you.

— Tom

(Be sure to attach/include relevant files like your Resume and Cover Letter)

— — — — — — — — —

That’s it.

Don’t ever be afraid to ask for a referral! Chances are there is a nice referral bonus for the person who is referring you so they should have an incentive to say “Happy to!”.

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Stephanie Manwaring

Web developer, developing things for Squarespace in New York City.