Job Referrals account for countless hires all around the world. What is more, they beat all other hiring methods in terms of job hopping rates. So why couldn’t you become another one? In 2020, you will actually struggle to find any bigger company that doesn’t run their own employee referral program. These programs do work. And companies do not mind paying their employees for referring their friends, typically between $250 and $5,000, depending on the seniority of the job.

They can easily afford it, since they would spend money hiring new people anyway (advertising job offers, participating in job fairs, reading countless resumes, leading interviews, etc). Summarized and underlined, everything plays in your favor. Or doesn’t it? Let’s have a look on a few things you should do, and remember, when asking for a job referral.


Face to face meeting is the key

Let’s suppose you know someone in the company, one that happens to advertise a great job. You love the job description, and the salary offer is excellent. You can imagine that they must get dozens if not hundreds of applications for the particular vacancy.

But there is this friend you know, and perhaps they could help you through the door. Or at least they could have a word about you with the manager, ensuring that they’d have a closer look at your resume and cover letter. Now it’s time to contact them.

Remember, do not message them on Facebook. Do not text them with your phone. This just isn’t the way to get the job done… You need to hear their immediate reaction, and in an ideal case see their face.

Opt for a face to face meeting (without telling them why you want to meet) or in the worse case for a phone call. Why is this step so important?

Because everyone can write anything on social media. And it is easy to tell lies. “Yeah, sure, I will tell them about you” will likely be the first message they will send back. Regardless you of whether they want to help. Or they will ask you for your resume. And then they will read other messages and forget about you.


Show them that you care–and they also will

Arranging a face to face meeting, having a small chat, inviting them for a dinner–all these things show your connection from the company that you really care about the working opportunity. They can see it’s serious, for you–and they will likely approach it in the same manner.

What is more, you can see their immediate reaction. People tend to be more honest in face to face meetings, and non-verbal communication also tells you a lot.

After such a meeting you will know (or at least have a better idea) whether you can rely on them, whether they will move your request forward, or whether you should look somewhere else for help.

Nice lady is asking her former friend for a job referral in a big office with wide windows

Be realistic about your connection–and act accordingly

You should not overestimate the good in people. The fact that someone gets some money for recommending you for an interview (in case that you eventually get hired) doesn’t mean that they’d do so…

Envy is a strong human emotion. Some people are imprisoned in it all their adult lives.

If you try to get a recommendation for a really good job, many people won’t help you. They won’t simply because they can’t bare the fact that you would earn more (twice as much) money than they do. Simple as that.

Be realistic about your connection. Does it go about a true friend? Have you helped the person in any way before? Can you trust them?


Consider offering a reward

If you try to get a referral for an excellent job, but doesn’t have the strongest connection in the company, you can always offer an extra incentive. Perhaps you can pay additional fee to the person, or you can even share your first salary with them.

Most people are materialistic (sad but true). Offering them something can provide that extra bit of motivation on their end. Of course you will pay them only if you get hired–so you do not risk anything.


Instruct the person, help them identify your strengths

In a case of an important job application, you should not rely on the communication skills of your connection. How well do they know you? Can they list your strengths? Can they tell why you deserve a chance to be interviewed for the job?

Maybe they won’t eventually go to the HR manager because they do not know what they’d say about you… You should try to make their situation easier.

In an ideal case, you should tell them (or politely ask them) to present a certain image to the HR manager. Perhaps you worked together before (in another company) and you always did an excellent job. Perhaps your creativeness stands out, or your sense for responsibility.

You have some strengths–just like everyone else on the planet. But your connection in the company may not be aware of them–and that’s why you two should talk about them, to ensure they’d make the best possible referral. In any case, you should try to make it easier for them. Once they feel comfortable about the speech in front of the HR manager (or CEO), they are more likely to make the speech.


Give them your resume

You should give them your resume in print (it is much better than just sending one as PDF). A piece of paper they can leave on the desk of an HR manager, a friendly remainder that there is an excellent candidate waiting for their interview invitation.

You can also hand them a copy of recommendation from your previous employer, a cover letter, or anything else that could help with your application.

Woman is gesticulating in a job interview

Do not rely only on one referral

Doesn’t matter how strong your connection in the company is, you shouldn’t rely only on this referral. Too many variables play a role in the process of a job referral. Perhaps the HR manager doesn’t like your connection in the company, and they will dismiss any recommendation from their side.

Or they do not pay attention to referrals in general. Your former best friend, a person you entrust with your resume and hopes, may also betray you. Maybe they do not care about you anymore, and will throw your resume to the rubbish bin, laughing, as soon as they return home.

People change, and so do relationship between them. It would be a pity to bet everything on one card.


Apply also in a traditional way

Apply for the job offer just like anyone else. Submit your resume, send a cover letter, and join the ranks of dozens job applicants.

Surely, a referral will help you immensely to stand out from the pack. But you can succeed also without their help. Perhaps you can write an excellent job application, or prepare for an interview better than your competitors. Job search is a game of numbers, and betting all your money on a single horse would be a huge risk.

Try to do the most you can to succeed. Asking for a referral is just one of the things you can do.


Follow-up on your request

Most people are incredibly busy. They tend to forget, or they suddenly have too many things to do, or they do not feel like talking to the HR manager.

Remind them your friendly request. Call them again, or invite them for a lunch (or for an ice cream). Do not push too hard though. Do not ask them directly whether they talked with the manager or CEO about you. Simply ask them about the progress, whether they did anything with your resume.



Employee referral belongs to most popular hiring methods all around the world. But whether you succeed in getting a recommendation depends on many things. The power of your connection, their loyalty and position in the company, and also how easy you make it for them to refer you.

Follow the advice from our article and try to make the most of this opportunity. But do not rely solely on referrals. Apply for the job also in a typical way, just like everyone else does. Trying more channels always improves your chances of receiving that coveted interview invitation (and later a new job contract)…

Continue your preparation with one of our articles:

Matthew Chulaw
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