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Referral Emails for Employees (With Downloadable Templates)

Illustration of letter in envelope with @ symbol representing email.Text reads:

Every growing business needs access to fresh talent, and your employees can often be your best recruiters. By keeping your current employees in the loop about your hiring needs, they can connect qualified people to your company. Sending out referral emails and making sure your employees understand your referral program is the best way to do this. However, it’s important that your email is descriptive, informative and helpful. The better your employee referral emails, the better your odds of finding qualified hires.

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The basics of referral emails

Employers use referral emails to promote their employee referral program or announce a new job opening that current employees can refer candidates to. While you don’t necessarily need a reward program to gain employee referrals, such a program does strengthen the incentive for employees to seek out qualified hires. Whether or not your company institutes an employee referral program, you should still make use of referral emails to inform your staff of new openings. The core structure of a referral email should consist of:

  • Subject line
  • Important job details and responsibilities
  • Who the candidate will work with if hired
  • Key job requirements and qualifications
  • What you’re looking for in an employee
  • Link to the job description
  • Encouragement for employees to refer well-qualified candidates they know
  • How to refer someone and what the process is like
  • A list of questions you’d like them to answer regarding their referral

If you’re announcing an employee referral program in which employees will receive a reward or bonus per referral, includethe following:

  • What is considered a successful referral (e.g., if the candidate is hired, they must stay employed for a certain number of months)
  • What the reward is for a successful referral
  • Any exclusions that may apply (e.g., the hire of a previous or current employee)
  • Referral bonus, if applicable

Benefits of an employee referral

Having a current employee refer a job candidate is a cheaper option than vetting candidates from a job posting since you avoid the need for paid advertising. Furthermore, since an employee is the one making the referral, they’re more apt to recommend a well-qualified candidate rather than an inexperienced one. Before you hire the new employee, the referrer likely already informed them of what to expect of the company culture.

You also can’t underestimate the value of existing social ties. Since the newly hired employee will have an established link to the referrer, they’ll be more inclined to ask questions and get the help they need for smooth onboarding. However, this means the referrer may be doing extra work in helping the new hire. This is another reason to offer rewards and incentives to promote employee referrals in your company.

Related:How to Get More Out of Employee Referrals

How to write a referral email

Here are the key steps for writing a referral email:

1. Determine who you will send the email to

Typically, a business sends referral emails to everyone in the company in an effort to reach a large audience and receive a high number of email referrals. At minimum, make sure to send the email to those with strong connections in your industry. Well-connected people are more likely to know qualified candidates who fit the role you’re looking for. Besides connections, the reputability and honesty of those people you send a referral email to are also important. These qualities will help ensure they forward the job opening to qualified people rather than personal friends who aren’t qualified.

2. Draft a referral email

The second step is drafting the referral email you plan to send. Be sure to include the job position you’re hiring for and a link to the job posting. Finish with a strong call to action at the end of the referral email, explicitly requesting referrals for the position. If you have details about the next steps to take, include them in your email.

3. Detail any incentives

If you’re introducing an employee referral program and plan to offer a bonus or reward, mention it in the email. Include any criteria for eligible referrals. This will give employees a guideline for who they can refer and what they need to do to receive the incentive.

4. Proofread your referral email

Before sending your email, read it through a few times to make sure it makes sense. Check all job titles and links you may have included, and correct any spelling and grammar errors.

5. Send your referral email and await responses

Once you’ve finalized your email, click send. If you asked employees to have the candidates apply online, make sure tokeep an eye out for their application.

How to make employee referral emails stand out

People can receive dozens of emails in a day. If you expect employees to open your referral email and act on it, then you need to make sure it stands out. The best way to make sure that employees notice your referral emails is by offering a reward for successful referrals. The subject line should be clear and concise as well as informative, telling employees what the company needs and that there’s a reward for helping.

If you aren’t instituting a reward program, that limits your ability to make referral emails stand out. However, you can still strengthen your results by writing emails with effective subject lines and informative body content. Make sure the subject line states the position that’s open, and use the email to go into more detail.

Referral template email

Here is a template you can use as a guide for your referral email:

Email subject line: [Introduce the employee referral program]


[Opening statement about growing the company]

[A few sentences detailing the position that’s open along with job responsibilities] [Ask employees to refer a qualified candidate] [Link to job posting]

[Questions for employees to answer about the candidate they’re referring]

[Call to action such as replying with candidate’s contact information and resume]

[Next steps in referral process]

[If applicable, detail a bonus or reward employees will receive for referring an employee]

[Sign off]

[Your name]

[Your signature]

Sample referral emails for employees

Referral template email 1

Subject: Refer a Senior Writer, Earn a Bonus

Hi all,

As you all know, we’re always looking to expand our team of talented professionals.

We are currently seeking a qualified candidate that would make a good fit for the Senior Writer role. If you know someone who would make a good fit for the job and our company culture overall, please refer them our way.

In an effort to make the employee referral process easier, please answer the following questions for each candidate you refer:

  • What is the name of the person you’re referring?
  • How do you know them?
  • What are their valuable skills and qualifications for this role?
  • Why do you think they’d make a good fit?
  • If you’ve previously worked together, why do you consider them a good coworker?

Please reply with your friend’s contact details and resume. We’ll take care of the rest. If we end up hiring them and they stay on as an employee for three months, you’ll get a $100 bonus!

You’re also welcome to check out our careers page from time to time to view any other openings you may want to make a referral for. If you have anyquestions regarding referrals, don’t hesitate to reach out.


Gwendolyn Jones

Related:5 Ways to Create an Effective Employee Referral Program

Referral template email2

Subject: Refer a Candidate Advertising Manager, Get Extra PTO

Hi everyone,

We’re always looking to expand our team at Lennon and Co., and we’re recruiting your help.

We’re currently looking to fill the Advertising Manager role. If you know someone who would be a great fit for the job, send them our way. If they’re hired and stay on as an employee for five months, you’ll be given three extra PTO days! In order to be eligible for this reward, you’ll need to be working with our company for at least a year and refer candidates who have not held previous positions here.

If you have a referral you’d like to make, please reply to this email with their contact information, resume and cover letter. We’ll handle the rest! Should you have any questions, please direct them to me or Anna in our human resources department. Be sure to check out our careers page for any other openings.


Julia Jackson

Referral template email3

Subject: $300 Bonus to Help Us Find a Full-Time Food Writer

Hi, team!

As you already know, we’re always looking to add to our team of highly qualified writers and editors here at Clementine Press. We’re currently hiring for the Food Columnist role that would report to our Food Editor, Amy Clark. This is a full-time, salaried position. If you know someone who’d be a good fit for the role and our company, let us know.

If we hire the candidate you referred and they remain at our company for six months, you’ll earn a $300 bonus! We only ask that they not be previous employees here.

Please reply to this email with their name and contact information. Have them apply to the job on our careers page—we’ll keep an eye out for them! If you have any questions regarding the process, don’t hesitate to ask.


Cassandra Blake

Referral emails FAQs

Here are frequently asked questions regarding referral emails:

What bonuses or rewards are good to offer employees?

Employers can select any bonus or reward of their choosing. An extra day or days of PTO or a monetary bonus are common choices.

Who should a referral email be sent to?

You should send a referral email to everyone in your company. This will maximize the number of responses and referrals you’ll receive. If you intend to limit the number of employees you email, then choose well-connected and trustworthy team members.

When is the best time to send a referral email?

The best time to send a referral email is early in the day, and the best days to send are Monday and Tuesday. By sending out referral emails early in the day and week, you maximize the odds of a quick response.

How do I measure the success of employee referral emails?

You can easily measure the success of employee referral emails if your business has a robust set of recruitment metrics. It’s as simple as comparing the KPIs from referral-based applications to applications from other sources.

Referral Emails for Employees Template for PDF & Word

Download these templates to promote your employee referral program or announce a new job opening.

Download PDF for Free
Download Word for Free

*Indeed provides these examples as a courtesy to users of this site. Please note that we are not your HR or legal adviser, and none of these documents reflect current labor or employment regulations.

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