You’ve found it! Your dream job. You’ve pretty much committed the job description to memory, you’ve read it so many times. It is perfect! Now all you need is a way in. Upon further investigation you discover that you know someone who works there. It might be a distant cousin, it might be a sorority sister, it might even be an ex-coworker either way that connection is one you don’t want to go to waste.
The Close Friend
This is by far the easiest referral to ask for. A good friend knows you well and probably wants you to succeed. Give them a call or if you see them on a regular basis just casually bring it up.
“Hey. I noticed that your company has a new position available in the marketing department and I think it sound amazing. Is there anything you could tell me about the job or company? Is it okay for me to use you as a referral?”
Chances are the person will tell you yes and then tell you everything that can about the job, department or company. They may even ask you to send them your resume so they can get it directly to the person making the decision and possibly get you past the gatekeepers. This is probably the only person on the list you can get away with texting, but on the phone or in person is always best.
The casual acquaintance you’ve never worked with
You know them, really you do. You’ve met face to face several times but this isn’t someone you would invite to your wedding or call on their birthday but you would stop and talk to them if you saw them at the grocery store. How do you ask this person? As mentioned before it is always best to ask over the phone or face to face, email is okay if it’s your only way to reach them but what may be better is to email them and ask if there is a good time you can call them for a quick chat and the best number to call. Don’t jump right into it once you’re on the phone, mind your manners. Ask them how they are doing and how their profession is going. Then be honest, “The reason I wanted to talk was because I noticed your company is hiring in the marketing department. I was wondering if you would be comfortable with me using you as a reference and if you would tell me a little bit more about the company culture.”
This wording does two things, it asks them to be a reference and it makes them feel good that you want their opinion. People love when others ask for their advice. Because they haven’t worked with you be ready to kind of pitch yourself to them, they may feel comfortable speaking to your character but don’t feel like they know anything about your work-ethic.
The previous coworker
Similar to the casual acquaintance this one can be a little difficult. Before you ask them be sure that you left things on a good note with them. Think about your work relationship, do they have a reason to give you a good reference? Is there any reason they might not give you one? If you have their phone number give them a call and ask. If you don’t have their phone number send them a a email and ask if they have time for a quick phone call. You can state it the same way as you would the acquaintance above. If they say that they are fine with being a reference for you go ahead and ask them how the company compares from the other job you shared to try and get really good information about what you might be able to expect if you are offered the job.
Remember the reasons that referrals are such a great way to get a job is because people tend to listen to people they trust. If you get the job, have respect for the person who referred you and do your best work. If it’s not a great fit put in the proper notice before leaving and give them a heads up immediately after so they aren’t blindsided.
Also if you get the job let them know and thank them for the reference. If you don’t get the job or even an interview update them so they aren’t expecting a call they never get. If you don’t get an interview it’s best to keep the lines of communication open incase you need a reference from them in the future.