how to ask for a referral: tips and examples

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Gayane Hakobyan
written byContent Strategist, Remote Lifestyle & Career, EPAM Anywhere

With a focus on remote lifestyle and career development, Gayane shares practical insight and career advice that informs and empowers tech talent to thrive in the world of remote work.

With a focus on remote lifestyle and career development, Gayane shares practical insight and career advice that informs and empowers tech talent to thrive in the world of remote work.

Knowing how to ask for a referral when looking for remote IT jobs can significantly enhance your job search, networking, and career development efforts. In this comprehensive guide, we'll unpack the fundamentals of a referral request and share tips on “making the ask” effective.

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What is a referral request?

A referral request is a process by which an individual asks another person, typically a contact within their professional network, to recommend them for a job, client, or specific opportunity. This recommendation, or referral, often carries weight due to the referrer's credibility, influence, or existing relationship with the decision-maker.

Referral requests can be from one professional to another or from a company to individuals in their network. For example, an individual might ask a former colleague for advice on job opportunities, while a business could reach out to its existing customers and ask them to refer people who might be interested in their products or services.

10 tips on how to ask for a referral for a job

1. Build a strong relationship

If you want to improve your chances of getting a referral, it's important to build a strong and positive relationship with the person you intend to ask. This person may be a past coworker, a mentor, or someone you've partnered with on volunteer work or projects. By developing a close bond with them, they will have a clearer picture of your work ethic, skills, and potential. This will give them the confidence to refer you when the opportunity arises.

“Asking for a referral depends on whether you know the person or not. If you know the person and are on good terms, it’s just a matter of sending a LinkedIn message and politely asking for the referral. If you don’t know the person, you need to send a quick elevator message through LinkedIn introducing yourself, stating the position you’re interested in, and attaching your CV. There are a lot of templates online for doing this.”

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Juliana DiazSenior Software Engineer, EPAM Anywhere

2. Choose the right timing

Timing matters when asking for a referral. Ensure that you make your request at a suitable time, preferably when the person isn't too busy or under pressure. Let them know you're interested in finding a new position and explain your career goals. Give them ample time to consider your request, as they might need to review your resume before referring you.

3. Be specific about your goals

Be clear and concise about the type of job or opportunity you're seeking and what the role entails. Sharing specific information will better enable your referrer to personalize a response that demonstrates how your past experiences can lead to success.

4. Personalize your request

Instead of sending generic requests for referrals, tailor your message to the person you’re reaching out to. Personalization can demonstrate respect and consideration. Consider reminding your referrer about past experiences that demonstrate your skills and abilities with respect to the new role.

5. Make it easy for them

Provide any necessary information or context they might need to make the referral. This could include your resume, the specific job listing, or a summary of your relevant skills and experiences. The more information you share, the easier their job becomes, which is critical in the busy environments we all face.

“The foundation of a meaningful referral is genuine relationships. Take the time to nurture and cultivate these connections long before you need to ask for a favor. When the time comes, choose your referrer wisely — someone who knows your work and can genuinely vouch for you. Approach them with clarity, explaining the role you're eyeing and why you believe you're the right fit. Arm them with the tools they need to help you, like an updated CV and LinkedIn profile link.”

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Rustem AgziamovLead Business Analyst, EPAM Anywhere

6. Use a polite and gracious tone

Maintain a respectful and grateful tone throughout your conversation. Remember, they are doing you a favor by providing a referral. If your referrer doesn’t respond to your request, don’t be discouraged. Send a brief follow-up message expressing appreciation and interest in the referral before moving on with your search.

“I think nowadays, it’s quite common to have friends or acquaintances in different companies, and either they get benefits by referring people or they’re just happy to help. Therefore, I would recommend reconnecting briefly with your contact and stating directly that you would like to apply for the given position, asking whether it would be possible for him/her to refer you. Most of the time, they will be really happy to do it and even provide accurate job descriptions or tips.”

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Diego ParraChief Software Engineer I, EPAM Anywhere

7. Offer a way out

Make it clear that it's okay if they don't feel comfortable providing a referral. This will ensure that there are no hard feelings if they decline your request.

8. Suggest specific talking points

Suggest specific skills, experiences, or achievements they could highlight in the referral. This not only makes their task more manageable but also ensures the referral is relevant and impactful.

9. Follow up with gratitude

Regardless of whether the referral was successful or not, always follow up with a sincere thank-you note. This shows your appreciation and maintains the relationship for the future. A simple “thank you” goes a long way! Let them know how much you appreciate their support, even if they don’t provide a referral.

10. Return the favor

Show your willingness to reciprocate by offering to provide referrals for them when appropriate. This creates a two-way street, reinforcing the sense of mutual support within your professional network.

“I consider building a network as the key for referrals (using LinkedIn). When reaching out, you can also ask your referee to review your CV and get some comments to improve your CV. Other than that, be curious, share your background and get clarity on the corporate culture to know how to establish the conversation to get your referral.”

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Ximena OviedoBusiness Analyst, EPAM Anywhere

8 don'ts of asking for a referral

Knowing what to ask when requesting a referral is important, but it might be just as important to know what NOT to ask. Here are some specific actions that you should not take when requesting a referral.

  • Don't rush the process: Give the person you're asking enough time to consider your request and compose a thoughtful referral. Rushing them can lead to a less effective referral or even discourage them from providing one at all.
  • Avoid unrealistic demands: It's important to set realistic expectations when requesting a referral. It's not recommended to ask for a referral from someone who isn't familiar with your work or is someone you've just met.
  • Don't be overly aggressive: Be assertive but not pushy. While it's okay to follow up on your request, constant reminders or pressure can be off-putting and harm your chances of getting a positive referral.
  • Avoid generic requests: Each request should be personalized to the person you're asking. Sending a generic, copy-pasted request may create an impression of insincerity and lower your chances of receiving the referral you desire.
  • Don't neglect to provide the necessary information: When requesting a referral, it's important to provide all the necessary information upfront to avoid making your referrer search for details about the job or your qualifications. Include everything they might need in your initial request to make their job easier.
  • Don't forget to say thank you: Failing to express gratitude is a big no-no. Even if they decide not to give a referral or if the referral doesn't result in a job, it's essential to thank them for their time and effort.
  • Don't burn bridges if refused: If someone declines your referral request, respect their decision and maintain professionalism. Keep the relationship positive. They may not be able to refer you now, but circumstances could change in the future.
  • Avoid asking for a referral publicly: It’s better to make referral requests in private rather than publicly, such as on social media. Public requests can create unnecessary pressure on the person and may not be received well.

By avoiding these pitfalls, you'll be well on your way to mastering the art of how to ask for a referral.

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Asking for a referral for a job: sample email scripts

Creating a referral request might seem difficult. The important thing is to maintain respect, clarity, and professionalism while expressing your eagerness for the opportunity. In the next section, we offer example email templates to help you navigate the process.

Sample referral request email #1

Subject: Referral Request for Job Opportunity at XYZ Company

Dear [Referrer's Name],

I hope this email finds you well. I'm reaching out to you today because I have recently been exploring new career opportunities, and I remember our time working together at ABC Corp fondly. Your insights and mentorship were invaluable to me, and I genuinely appreciated our collaboration on various projects.

I noticed that XYZ Company, a leading player in our industry, is currently hiring for a [Job Title] position. The company's culture and commitment to innovation align perfectly with my career aspirations, and I believe my skills and experience would be an excellent fit for their team.

Given your impressive network and industry knowledge, I was wondering if you would feel comfortable providing a referral for me. Your endorsement would mean a great deal, and I'm confident it could significantly enhance my candidacy for the role.

If you're open to help, I can provide you with my updated resume and any additional information you might need to write the referral. Of course, I completely understand if you are unable to accommodate this request, and I genuinely appreciate your consideration.

Thank you for taking the time to read my email. I hope we can catch up soon, regardless of the referral outcome. Your support and mentorship have made a lasting impact on my career, and I'm truly grateful for that.

Wishing you all the best and looking forward to hearing from you.

Warm regards,

[Your Name]

Sample referral request email #2

Subject: Grateful for Your Support - Can I Ask for a Referral?

Dear [Referrer's Name],

I hope this email finds you in good health and spirits. As we've all navigated through challenging times, I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude for your mentorship and guidance during our time working together.

Your unwavering support and encouragement have been instrumental in shaping my professional journey. It's with great fondness that I look back on our collaboration and the valuable lessons I learned from you.

Today, I find myself exploring new career opportunities, and one exciting prospect has caught my attention. I discovered an opening for a [Job Title] position at XYZ Company, and I truly believe my skills and experiences make me a strong fit for the role.

I'm reaching out today with a humble request. I'm wondering if you would feel comfortable providing a referral for me. Your endorsement would carry immense weight, and I know that the values you embody align closely with those of XYZ Company.

Of course, I understand if you're occupied with your own commitments, and I genuinely appreciate your consideration. However, if you are open to help, I'll gladly provide any information you might need to craft the referral.

Thank you for the time you've dedicated to reading this email, and more importantly, thank you for being an inspiring figure in my career. Your influence has made a lasting impact, and I'm deeply grateful for that.

Looking forward to hearing from you, and I hope we can catch up soon to reminisce about old times.

With heartfelt appreciation,

[Your Name]

Sample referral request email #3

Subject: Quick Favor, [Referrer's Name]? 😊

Hey [Referrer's Name],

I hope this email finds you doing well and enjoying your week! It's been some time since we caught up, and I've been meaning to reach out to you.

The reason for my email today is that I'm on the lookout for a new opportunity, and I remembered what a fantastic colleague you were back at ABC Corp. Your support and encouragement made our workplace a better environment.

I recently came across a job opening at XYZ Company for a [Job Title] role. I believe this position aligns perfectly with my skills and career goals. I'm reaching out to see if you'd be open to providing a referral for me. Your recommendation would mean a lot, and I greatly value your opinion.

No pressure, of course! I understand you're busy, and if it's not possible at this time, I completely understand. If you're up for it though, I'd be thrilled to share more about the role and my experiences with you.

Thanks for considering my request, and I hope we can catch up soon, even if it's just for a virtual coffee!

Take care and talk soon.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Apply for remote jobs at EPAM Anywhere with no referral needed

Ready to take your remote work journey to new heights? With EPAM Anywhere's "Find Me a Job" service, you can access our global job opportunities in the tech industry. If you're wondering how to ask for a referral for a job, you'll be pleased to know that EPAM Anywhere takes the stress out of the process by connecting you directly with our open jobs suited to your skills and aspirations.

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Gayane Hakobyan
written byContent Strategist, Remote Lifestyle & Career, EPAM Anywhere

With a focus on remote lifestyle and career development, Gayane shares practical insight and career advice that informs and empowers tech talent to thrive in the world of remote work.

With a focus on remote lifestyle and career development, Gayane shares practical insight and career advice that informs and empowers tech talent to thrive in the world of remote work.

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