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What Is a Referral Cover Letter and How to Write It Properly

There are many ways of making a cover letter that you can use when applying for a job. Once such way is a referral cover letter, which is often poorly understood and almost always badly written. If you can come to terms with the proper way to write one, you’ll put yourself streets ahead of the competition.

What Is a Referral Letter?

A referral letter in the context of cover letter writing refers to the mention of a mutual connection shared between the prospective employer and the hopeful job seeker. Name dropping for the sake of it is bad practice, but if you’ve genuinely got a great present colleague or even a current employee working for your potential employer, you could stand to gain a lot from doing so.

It’s often said that it’s all about who you know and not just about what you know. This is frequently true and becomes more so the higher up the corporate ladder you climb. If you’ve got great business connections, you’d surely benefit from using a referral in your cover letter when you next apply for a job.

How to Get a Referral

To boost your chances of getting a referral, it makes sense to network all the time. Don’t miss a single chance to grow your network business associates, colleagues, and other important people. You can find a referral from all kinds of networking opportunities, including work contacts and alumni organizations.

There’s a certain way to go about getting a referral that succeeds more often than not. Make sure you’re specific when you’re explaining what you need, using both personal and professional methods.

Remind the person of how you met if it isn’t obvious because you’re close enough already. Ensure you adopt a friendly tone at this point so that they have no reason to reject your request.

In terms of the professional aspect of your request, keep your speech concise and straight on the target. Tell the person you’re applying for a particular position in a company they’re familiar with, and then you can make a direct request to use their name as a referral point. Unless they have a very good reason, they’re highly unlikely to refuse you.

Just remember that getting an employment referral letter is one thing; the most important factor in your job application has to do with how you use this to its maximum potential.

When to Use a Referral

how to include a referral in a cover letter

Image credit: StockSnap.io

Knowing about the use of referrals is important but even more vital is understanding when to use one. Generally speaking, you ought to ask your mutual contact whether they mind your inclusion of their name as part of your job application. This is particularly important if they currently work for the company in question.

The best kinds of referrals are those that involve people with very close connections to the hiring manager or those higher up in the business. These have the most clout for obvious reasons, and you should definitely use these opportunities if they are part of the leadership team.

The three most useful tips can be summarized as follows:

  • Ensure that your referee actually knows the hiring manager personally. There’s no point name dropping someone they’ve never even heard of, let alone met.
  • Consider the quality of the relationship between your referee and the hirer. It’s only safe to include a referral if you know that these two people are on good terms. If they have a poor relationship, it may reflect badly on you and you’ll end up with a lower chance of getting the job than if you were to have just kept quiet.
  • Make absolutely certain that your referee has agreed to act in this capacity. The last thing you want to do is to put their name down without actually having them agree to what you’re going to write. Give them a copy of your final version of your cover letter to boost trust if necessary.

How to Include a Referral in a Cover Letter

Once you know when to use a referral, you can focus on the actual content of the letter. However, before you even put pen to paper, you need to know how to include a referral in a cover letter in the proper manner.

referral cover letter writing advice

Getting a new job is not an easy process at times, and that’s why the more tricks you have up your sleeve, the more success you’ll have. It’s all about having multiple solutions to each problem that could crop up at any time. Following some of the tips below will make using a referral the simplest part of getting a new job.

  • Your first paragraph should begin by speaking directly to the reader, explaining the existence of a mutual colleague, acquaintance or whomever it may be.
  • You should mention the person by their full name, including any professional titles and positions held, so that the reader understands exactly about whom you’re talking.
  • Expand upon how you know this person, for how long you’ve known them, and elaborate on the context of your relationship.
  • Include the reasons for which this person agreed to be mentioned in your cover letter. This should involve a number of personal or professional qualities that are directly relevant to the job or company.
  • Last but not least, don’t be afraid to drop a name if it’ll open doors for you. As long as you adopt a professional writing style, it’ll have the desired effect.

Using Email for Your Referral Letter

There are certain situations in which you can use an employment referral letter, and sometimes you can even use an email for the same purpose. Of course, there exists a particular protocol that you should adhere to as you type a cover letter for email.

cover letter statistics

Image credit: CareerSavvy.co.uk

You must mention the referral in the subject line if you’re to achieve maximum impact. You should then follow the general tips given for a traditionally sent cover letter as the only real difference between electronic and paper cover letters should be the medium itself rather than the content. On that note, remember to be just as professional via email as you would in writing or in person.

Finding a Job Online

When you’re actively seeking job opportunity can strike at any moment and that’s why prior preparation is so important. As you learn exactly how to include the various components of your cover letter in the proper fashion, you can plan ahead and make things easier for yourself when you’re seeking job opportunity online using one of the 5 platforms outlined below.

  • Job.com: This one works both ways, letting employers search for ideal candidates as well as vice versa. You can upload your resume to make the most of this function, and it even helps you to construct your resume if you haven’t made the most of your potential yet.
  • Monster: Functioning as something in between LinkedIn and CareerBuilder, this offers a huge selection of job ads and a networking interface that certainly works well. There’s an email alerts service for all the latest news to keep you ahead of the competition if you’re diligent enough.
  • LinkedIn: If you’re a professional, you’ll know how important it is to network among potential clients and employers. LinkedIn is essentially social media for professional networking purposes and it even lets you upload your resume and show it off to all the potential employers out there.
  • SimplyHired: The site functions as a search engine that works to help you narrow down your preferred employers based on all kinds of characteristics. You can sign up for email alerts so you’ll be first in the jobs queue at all times.
  • CareerBuilder: This site is essentially a giant jobs board, giving you access to all the latest job ads from all sorts of companies, as well as timely advice on getting employed. You can search by location too, so if you need to find local jobs, this is one of the best ways to do it.

Writing a referral cover letter could easily open previously closed doors when you do it right. Follow the carefully considered advice above and you’ll be well on your way to writing your cover letter cashier or teacher that speeds you straight to the front of the pile. Just make sure that you don’t rely overly much on the quality of your referral; you have to remember that you need to stand on your own two feet as well.

Make the most of the wonderful opportunities that a referral cover letter provides. Show who you know and see how far it gets you!