Aking for a job referral means building a strong network

11 Job Referral Strategies to Boost Your Career (with Examples)

A study found that a job referral is the number one source for external hires. Almost 55% of all new hires were referrals, according to the Silk Roads Source of Hire Report 2018.

If you’re hunting for a job, it pays to put your time and effort into cultivating your contacts.

Job Referral Definition

A job referral is when a person already working for a company suggests someone to fill a specific job opening. Many companies have an employee referral program.

These programs reward employees with money or time off when their referral is hired. When a hiring manager sees a candidate with an employee referral, it’s a vote of confidence that a candidate is a good option. A total win-win.

Why You Need to Cultivate Job Referrals

As you can see, the only person who doesn’t win in an employment market where job referrals rule is the person who searches for a job using job boards.

These are often outdated and unless you check the listings every day and apply as soon as the job is listed, you may as well skip it.

The internet has made it easy to apply for jobs. Companies typically receive hundreds or even thousands of responses to posted vacancies. It’s not enough that your resume and cover letter are perfect.

To find qualified candidates quickly, companies are looking to their own employees for leads.

If your job search has hit a lull or a brick wall, you need to grow your network and uncover connections to key contacts at the companies where you want to work.

11 Tips to Get Job Referrals

1. Help Someone You Know

Getting a job referral means the person willing to is risk their reputation by backing you. If things go south after you are hired, it reflects badly on your reference.

So it’s a big deal to give a referral. Before you ask anyone for a favor, help the person out first.

That doesn’t mean calling them out of the blue and offering to wash their car. That’s creepy. You want to be on the lookout for ways to help when people ask for it.

If your circle is not into asking for favors, volunteer at an organization that can put you in contact with people that work where you want to work. Give it time and give generously.

linkedin can be an excellent source for a job referral. A man looks at linkedin on his laptop

2. Tune-in to LinkedIn

The premier professional network makes it easy to find key leaders in any industry. Polish up your LinkedIn profile, share articles, request introductions, and contribute to group discussions.

LinkedIn is great at making suggestions on who you can network with. Don’t be shy about connecting with people.

LinkedIn is also a great resource for getting to know what companies are looking for in their employees. Find someone who has a similar job to the one you want and see what kind of background they have.

Who do they know and what topics do they follow? Find out.

3. Join Your Professional Association

Professional associations make it easy to zero in on other players in your field. Sign up for the welcoming committee or speakers’ bureau.

Whether you’re a mathematician or a part-time pet sitter, there are associations for any job. You can find a list of associations at the end of most of the career paths posts.

4. Contact Your Alumni Association

Those who school together are more likely to help each other find a job. Your alma mater is another valuable resource. School spirit creates a powerful motivation to help each other out.

Of course, some alumni groups are stronger than others. If you are thinking about returning to school, research the alumni association and keep in mind the importance of connecting with fellow students.

Asking for a job referral is a direct way to go.

5. Ask For Referrals

Make sure people know that you want referrals. Tactfully mention what kind of opportunities you’re looking for and the services you can offer.

As a job searcher in a highly competitive job market, you have to create opportunities for yourself.

That means putting yourself out there and risk being annoying or foolish. In the long run, letting people know will bear fruit.

So practice this 30-second script that you can say when you want a job referral.


I’ve been working at COMPANY for X years and I am looking to bring my SKILL 1 and ABILITY to a place like COMPANY WHERE THE PERSON WORKS.

Does your company have a referral incentive? I’m going to apply for a content creation role there. I’d love it if I could put you down as a referral.

Example in Use

I’ve been working for 3M as a marketing manager for 3 years but I am looking to bring my content strategy and creative thinking to a place like Facebook.

Does Facebook have a referral incentive? I’m applying for an entry-level content creator role there. I’d love to put you down as the referral.

6. Open Your Eyes and Your Mind

You may discover promising leads in unlikely places. Talk about your job to people, even if they aren’t in your profession.

Tell your hairdresser what you do for a living. His or her next client may be someone who can refer you to your next job.

Meditate to open your mind to the possibilities. When we overthink, we shut ourselves off to the magic of the universe.

You can use meditation to focus your mind and let go of doubts. Check out this meditation for beginners guide.

How to Use Job Referrals

Your hard work has paid off. You have people who are willing to give you a job referral. Here are strategies on how you can make the most of them.

1. Drop Names

There’s no need to feel awkward about relying on a referral.

Mention the name of the colleague who referred you if you’re leaving a voice mail, and briefly explain your relationship if you’re sending an email.

When you apply for the job, make sure to do everything you need to so that your contact gets credit for the job referral when you are hired.

2. Back it Up

Once you’re hired, becoming a top performer will reflect well on your contact too. So make sure this job is a good fit for your skills and not something you will regret later.

3. Widen Your Network

Broaden your network instead of relying on the same colleagues for one referral after another. They’re likely to be more responsive to occasional requests.

You should only use the referring person 1-2 times in your job search.

If you have used the person as a referral twice and not gotten even an interview, that person may not be a good reference.

There is power in numbers. Keep the lineup of potential referrals growing.

4. Think Long Term

Getting a job referral network going takes time, so you may need to think about short-term solutions.

Check out these articles on pet sitting or being a nanny.

While your friends and family may be full of valuable leads, they may not pan out overnight.

Networking is an ongoing process, so stay in touch and keep each other updated.

6. Say Thank You

Make others feel good about giving you referrals by letting them know how much you appreciate their assistance.

Write handwritten thank-you letters or invite them out to lunch. Don’t use people and move on to the next one.

You must always express gratitude for blessings received and those yet to be seen.

Racking up personal referrals makes it easier to land a great job and advance your career.

Tap into your network so you can position yourself as one of the recommended candidates that employers are looking for.

Good luck and get your name out there.