Asking a Contact for a Job Referral

by Lisa McQuerrey

Chances are, you have a variety of contacts you can call when you need a job referral. Former colleagues, previous employers, business associates and members of personal and professional organizations are all good contacts. Also consider friends, family members, neighbors and even people you see in a social context.


Ask a contact for a personal introduction to the hiring manager you want to meet. This approach should be used if your contact works for the company you're seeking a job with or is a vendor, contractor or former employee. In this instance, ask the contact to arrange a one-on-one meeting with the hiring manager or decision-maker in the company. The contact should facilitate the introduction and then allow you to talk privately with the other party.

Letter of Recommendation

Asking a contact for a letter of recommendation is beneficial if you want to use the referral letter for different job applications. It's also a good approach to take if you're asking for a long distance referral or a recommendation from someone who has a limited association with the company, rather than a personal relationship. You can ask the contact to submit the letter on your behalf, along with an attachment of your resume and a personal cover letter from you. You also can make copies of the referral letter and include it when you submit a resume or job application on your own.

Personal Phone Call

Asking a contact to make a personal phone call for you is a quick and efficient way to request this type of favor. It also gives you instant feedback about whether the employer thinks you sound like a qualified applicant and what the status of the position is. If it's a positive phone conversation and your contact reports the employer is interested in hearing from you, follow up as soon as possible to ensure your name is still fresh in the manager's mind.

What to Ask For

Be as specific as possible when asking your contact for a referral. For example, say, “I’m interested in the marketing director position. Would you let your contact know that I have 15 years experience conducting high-profile marketing campaigns, and I’ve won national awards for my branding strategies?” Being specific ensures you're not just making a personal link, but your contact is selling you and your qualifications in the process.

Photo Credits

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