How to Refer Someone for a Job in 3 Steps (With Example)

By Jennifer Herrity

Updated May 25, 2022 | Published March 30, 2020

Updated May 25, 2022

Published March 30, 2020

Jennifer Herrity is a seasoned career services professional with 12+ years of experience in career coaching, recruiting and leadership roles with the purpose of helping others to find their best-fit jobs. She helps people navigate the job search process through one-on-one career coaching, webinars, workshops, articles and career advice videos on Indeed's YouTube channel.

Companies hire some of their top talents through referrals. When you know someone with the right skills for an open job position, referring them helps employers save time and money in the hiring process.

In this article, we discuss what to consider when referring someone for a job and how best to refer someone, plus we provide a template and example referral letter to help you craft your own.

What to consider when referring someone

Before you refer someone for a job, it is important to consider two main things: whether your contact is fully qualified for the position and if they have a strong work ethic. If not, their behavior may reflect poorly on you as the referrer. Another thing to consider is how your relationship may change if your contact does not get hired for the position. After you've given the decision some thought and still want to provide the referral, make sure to follow your company's rules regarding job referrals.

Related: How To Ask for Referrals

How to refer someone for a job

Follow these steps to refer someone for a job position:

1. Ask internally

Depending on the size of the company, you may need to approach job referrals in a specific way. For example, larger companies with human resources (HR) departments may have a specific application process for applicants to follow and a special way of noting your referral. You may even be eligible for a referral bonus. In smaller companies, it may be more appropriate to request time with the owner to discuss the details of your referral. This way, you'll be able to answer any questions directly regarding the applicant.

2. Write a referral letter

While you may choose to discuss your referral in person, it is always a good idea to write a referral letter for employers to keep on file. This may take the form of an email, depending on your company's preferences. When writing the letter, keep your tone professional and positive. Include these key details about the person you're referring:

  • How well you know them

  • Length of time you've known them

  • Key skills and traits they have that align with company values

If you need help deciding what skills to include, call your requestor and ask them specific questions about their work history to learn more about their qualifications.

Related: How To Write a Referral Email (With Template)

3. Follow up

After you've submitted your job referral, allow a good amount of time to pass—usually one month at a minimum—before following up with the hiring manager. The hiring process takes time, especially during certain months of the year when employees take longer vacations and departments experience a high volume of work. If you're an internal employee, here is an example of an email you may send to check on the status of your contact's application:

"Hello! I'd like to follow up on the status of a job referral I submitted last month for [applicant's name]. She applied for the [job title] position. Do you know if this has been filled? If not, are you still reviewing candidates? Please let me know if you have any questions for me."

Tips for an effective referral

As you're working through the referral process, follow these tips for an effective referral:

  • Only agree to referrals you support. If you feel hesitant to refer someone for a job, it is probably best to let them know that the position is not a good fit.

  • Follow the business letter format. In general, it's always a good idea to default to a business letter format when you're writing a professional reference. This appeals to all employers.

  • Reference the job description. Before you write the letter, make sure you understand exactly what skills and experience the company wants in a candidate. You'll be able to highlight the requestor's best attributes as they relate to the specific position.

  • Use specific examples. When you use specific examples, it makes it easier for employers to visualize people working for the company. List at least two examples that support your recommendation.

  • Include contact information. Remember to leave your contact information in the heading of your letter so hiring managers know how to follow up with you.

Related: Tips for Writing a Great Letter of Recommendation

Job referral template

Follow this template when writing a job referral:

[Your full name]
[Your address, phone and email]

[Today's date]

[Hiring manager's name]
[Company name]
[Company's full address]

[Greeting]

[Paragraph 1: Describe your recommendation by listing the person's full name and desired position. In the next sentence, explain how you know them and the length of your relationship. End the paragraph by describing their key skills].

[Paragraph 2: Using a few sentences, give specific examples of how the applicant used their skills to help them accomplish work goals. Keep your tone positive throughout the body of the letter.]

[Paragraph 3: Finish the letter by describing how the applicant's skills and experience would benefit the company. Restate your recommendation. End this paragraph with a sentence that invites the hiring manager to contact you with any questions.]

[Closing phrase]

[Your handwritten signature]

[Your full name]

Download Letter of Referral Template
To upload the template into Google Docs, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file.

Job referral example

When writing a referral, it helps to have a reference to guide you. Here is an example of a referral letter written in business letter format:

Wendy Drake
5987 Hollow Point Lane
Denver, CO 80014
(555) 555-5555
wendyd@email.com

May 5, 2019

Jessica Fuller
Adaptive Solutions
5959 Rio Boulevard
Denver, CO 80014

Dear Ms. Fuller,

As you are reviewing candidates for the open customer service position, I thought I would take the time to recommend my friend, Morgan Little, for the job. I've known Morgan for the past three years since we met in college during a business development class. More recently, she and I worked together in a call center last summer. I was constantly impressed with her conversational skills and attention to detail.

She always respectfully spoke to customers. Even when dealing with difficult calls, she never once lost her composure. Her account notes were always free of typos or negative remarks. She always treated everyone with respect and worked hard to meet her daily goals. As a result, she consistently earned the "Top Achiever" award.

For these reasons, I believe she would do well in a customer service role and positively represent your company. Please let me know if you have any questions about Morgan's candidacy for the role.

Yours truly,

Wendy Drake

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