How To Include a Referral in Your Cover Letter

Updated August 31, 2023

Image description

The headline on the image says, "Cover letter format"
A woman sits at a table writing on a piece of paper. There's a simple cover letter represented by lines. On one side of the cover letter, there are labels for the sections of the cover letter. The labels are:
1. Date and contact information
2. Salutation/greeting
3. First, introduce yourself
4. List relevant experience in the middle
5. Express gratitude in the closing
6. Professional close and signature

When you’re applying for a job, it can be helpful to be referred by someone who is already employed at the same company or who knows the hiring manager personally. Mentioning a referral in the opening lines of your cover letter can get the hiring manager’s attention, leading them to read the rest of your letter with interest.

In this article, we explain what a referral cover letter is, why you should use a referral in your cover letter, how to get a referral and how to include a referral in your cover letter, with examples of how to include a referral in a cover letter.

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What is a referral cover letter?

A referral cover letter is a job application document that mentions a mutual contact you share with the hiring manager. This shared connection can be a friend, networking acquaintance or employee at the company where you’re applying for a job. When done properly, name-dropping in a cover letter emphasizes how your experience aligns with the job and how you’ve worked effectively with others in the past.

Your cover letter is your moment to shine. It allows you to provide more details about your education, qualifications and talents. You can also reference your previous accomplishments and explain how those experiences have prepared you to succeed.

Why should you use a referral?

Hiring managers regularly rely on employee referrals to fill open job positions. A trusted referral who gives a glowing recommendation is a testament to your work ethic. It can highlight how your strengths are a great match for the role.

Related: Types of Cover Letters (With Samples)

How to get a referral

Navigating the task of getting a referral can be tricky. Here are a few steps you can take to get a referral for your next job application:

1. Start with who you know

Start by determining if you know anyone at the company or who may know the hiring manager in another context.

Related: Referral Email Examples for Job Hunting and Marketing

2. Determine their reach

Next, find out if this person has a good relationship with the hiring manager. You can ask your referral candidly or learn about the company structure and how they may have interacted. If you use the name of someone who the hiring manager does not trust or respect, you may hurt your chances of being contacted for an interview.

Related: How To Format a Cover Letter (With Outline and Examples)

3. Ask your referral for permission

Then, ask the person referring you for permission to mention their name in your cover letter. This makes the referral aware of your intentions and allows them to give you helpful insight about the job and company. It also means they won’t be caught off guard if the hiring manager contacts them about their recommendation, giving them time to prepare what they’ll say about your qualifications.

4. Send them a copy of your cover letter

Finally, send a copy of your cover letter to your referral so they can read what the hiring manager will read. Remember to thank them for their help.

Related: What Is a Request for Referral? (How To, Tips and Examples)

Including a referral in your cover letter

The key to a successful referral cover letter is impressing the hiring manager from the start. To do this, mention your shared connection in the first paragraph of your cover letter. Include the name of your referral, your relationship and how they are familiar with your qualifications. Summarize why they are recommending you and explain how your experience has prepared you for this job.

One paragraph is all you need when including a referral in a cover letter. The rest of your cover letter can be used to expand on your skills, including how you plan to draw on your experiences to take on new challenges.

Download Cover Letter Template With Example

To upload the template into Google Docs, go to File > Open > and select the correct downloaded file.

Related: What Are Employment Referral Programs?

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Referral cover letter examples

Below, we’ve included sample paragraphs to show you how to effectively include a referral in your cover letter.

Example 1

“Dear Sarah Delgado,

The Social Media Specialist position came highly recommended to me by Julie Simms, Community Outreach Manager at Company ABC. Julie and I worked together for several years while coordinating continued education events, and she believes my marketing experience and knack for engaging audiences will have a profound impact on the organization.”

Related: Q&A: What’s the Ideal Cover Letter Length?

Example 2

“Dear Joseph Carpenter,

Justine Kelly suggested I contact you regarding the Customer Service Representative position at Company ABC. I met Justine last year when we volunteered together at a local mobile food bank. Working closely together allowed her to see my ability to genuinely connect with others, which is why she’s referred me to this role on your team.”

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