Cover Letter Referral From Friend

by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.

When it comes to cover letters, have you got writer’s block? Do you feel that if you could just start the letter, you’d be OK? Help is here.

We have a collection of customizable opening paragraphs for cover letters. Remember Mad Libs, the fill-in-the-blank game that resulted in wacky stories? This collection is a little like Mad Libs, except that the intended result is not wacky, but serious, effective openers for cover letters.

Following each customizable opening paragraph, you’ll find a sample paragraph with the blanks filled in. This set of 20 customizable opening paragraphs is for “referral letters,” which are the product of networking, the most effective method of job-hunting. In its simplest form, networking involves requesting (and giving in return) advice, support, job leads, and referrals with the goal of finding a new job. A referral letter prominently displays the name of a person your addressee knows.

Referral letters can come about from a variety of (networking) sources. You might talk with someone at a meeting of a trade association in your field who will tell you of an opening she knows of. An acquaintance at a party might tell you of someone he knows whose company could use an employee with your experience. A friend might tell you about a job she saw through her company’s internal job-posting.

The value of the referral letter is in its name-dropping. If you can grab the potential employer’s attention by mentioning someone he or she knows and respects in the first line of the letter, you will have gained a terrific advantage over the competition. A special kind of referral letter is the “self-referral” based not on a mutual acquaintance who knows the letter’s recipient, but based on a meeting or conversation you have had with the recipient.

Customizable Opening Paragraph #1:

[name of person from whom you learned of this job] suggested I contact you about the [name of position] position you currently have open. My fresh and innovative [type of skills] skills, along with total [type of proficiency] proficiency make me the [name of position] you’ve been looking for.

Check out this sample customized paragraph based on above.

JD McCoy suggested I contact you about the graphic artist position you currently have open. My fresh and innovative design skills, along with total Macintosh and PC proficiency make me the graphic artist you’ve been looking for.

Customizable Opening Paragraph #2:

[name of person from whom you learned of this job] and I have been talking about how my skills might fit at [name of employer]. He said he’d discussed [content of discussion between recipient and referral person], so I wanted to introduce myself, and tell you a little of what I’ve done since working with [name of person from whom you learned of this job] at [name of employer].

Check out our sample customized paragraph based on above.

Your colleague Jack Southerly and I have been talking about how my skills might fit at IBM. He said he’d discussed with you the possibility that I might assist you with some projects, so I wanted to introduce myself, and tell you a little of what I’ve done since working with Jack at Harris InfoSource.

Customizable Opening Paragraph #3:

[name of person from whom you learned of this job] [reminder of how the recipient knows the referral person] suggested I contact you about the [name of position] position you currently have open. My solid experience in [field] would enable me to make a significant contribution to your organization in a [name of position] capacity. My background in several [types of positions] positions further bolsters my qualifications in that I am extremely adept at providing business services of all kinds and functioning as a productive team member.

Check out our sample customized paragraph based on above.

Guerline Fede of your data-entry department suggested I contact you about the Customer Support Specialist position you currently have open. My solid experience in customer service would enable me to make a significant contribution to your organization in a Customer Support Specialist capacity. My background in several “people-oriented” positions further bolsters my qualifications in that I am extremely adept at providing business services of all kinds and functioning as a productive team member.

Customizable Opening Paragraph #4:

[Name of person from whom you learned of this job] tells me that you are looking for a [characteristic] employee for the job of [name of position]. I offer the background and the personality to excel in this position.

Check out our sample customized paragraph based on above:

Tyra Collette tells me that you are looking for a motivated employee for the job of Customer Service Representative. I offer the background and the personality to excel in this position.

Customizable Opening Paragraph #5:

Our mutual acquaintance [name of person from whom you learned of this job], [circumstances under which you know referral person], suggested I contact you to describe the contribution I might make in [job function] at your organization.

Check out our sample customized paragraph based on above:

Our mutual acquaintance, Dr. Tammy Taylor, with whom I am working as a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Management Science, suggested I contact you to describe the contribution I might make in research and development at your organization.

Customizable Opening Paragraph #6:

I’m writing to follow up on a phone conversation you had with [title and name of referral person] about the [name of position] position you expect to have available in [timeframe]. I’ve developed a strong foundation in [field], I am highly [characteristic], and I stand poised to bring my skills to your fine organization.

Check out our sample customized paragraph based on above.

I’m writing to follow up on a phone conversation you had with Rutgers University Assistant Director of Career Services Lylah Garrity about the retail management-trainee position you expect to have available in May 2010. I’ve developed a strong foundation in retail, I am highly customer-service oriented, and I stand poised to bring my skills to your fine organization.

Self-Referral Cover Letter Openers

Customizable Opening Paragraph #7:

I very much enjoyed talking with you [timeframe] about your need to fill your firm’s [name of position] position. My [number of years] years of experience as [name of position] at a [description of former employer] and as a(n) [name of position] qualify me well for this position.

Check out our sample customized paragraph based on above:

I very much enjoyed talking with you last Tuesday about your need to fill your firm’s architectural and interior-designer position. My seven years of experience as associate-in-charge of the interiors group at a New York architectural firm and as an architectural designer qualify me well for this position.

Customizable Opening Paragraph #8:

You’ll find that my proven track record in [field] and [field] makes me the ideal candidate for the [name of position] position we discussed in [where you talked with recipient].

Check out our sample customized paragraph based on above:

You’ll find that my proven track record in sales and marketing makes me the ideal candidate for the sales position we discussed in your regional sales office in Tampa.

Customizable Opening Paragraph #9:

I very much enjoyed talking with you [timeframe] and appreciate your time. [Sentence that reflects recipient’s critique of your resume]. My solid experience in [job function] and [job function] would enable me to make a significant contribution to the [name of position] position we discussed. My [education or other credential] further bolsters my qualifications.

Check out our sample customized paragraph based on above:

I very much enjoyed talking with you last Tuesday and appreciate your time. As you requested, I’m submitting a revised resume that more accurately reflects my communication, people, and office skills. My solid experience in customer service and administration would enable me to make a significant contribution to the Administrative Specialist II/Customer Service position we discussed. My college degree further bolsters my qualifications.

Customizable Opening Paragraph #10:

When I spoke with you at [occasion], I thought about what an interesting person you would be to work for. I was very excited when [name of person from whom you learned of this job] suggested that I apply for the position you have available in the [name of department] department. It would be wonderful to work for your prestigious company, and I am ready to make outstanding contributions to your workforce.

Check out our sample customized paragraph based on above:

When I spoke with you at Frank and Mary Sue Rawlinson’s Fourth of July cookout, I thought about what an interesting person you would be to work for. I was very excited when Frank suggested that I apply for the position you have available in the public relations department. It would be wonderful to work for your prestigious company, and I am ready to make outstanding contributions to your workforce.

Customizable Opening Paragraph #11:

I enjoyed meeting you in [timeframe] when [circumstances under which you met recipient]. I am now approaching graduation and actively seeking a job such as the [type of position] position you are advertising.

Check out our sample customized paragraph based on above:

I enjoyed meeting you in early March when I conducted an informational interview with your fiscal director Kim Tilbury. I am now approaching graduation and actively seeking a job such as the accounting position you are advertising.

Customizable Opening Paragraph #12:

I’m so glad I met you at the [name, location] career fair [timeframe]. Because I know that you plan to fill the [name of position] position quickly, I am e-mailing my resume immediately.

Check out our sample customized paragraph based on above:

I’m so glad I met you at the Trinity University career fair on Monday. Because I know that you plan to fill the IT position quickly, I am e-mailing my resume immediately.

Customizable Opening Paragraph #13:

After speaking with you [describe method] [timeframe], I am clearly interested in the opportunity as a(n) [name of position].

Check out our sample customized paragraph based on above:

After speaking with you on the phone yesterday, I am clearly interested in the opportunity as an actuarial clerk.

Customizable Opening Paragraph #14:

When we met [timeframe] ago [circumstances under which you met recipient], I was amazed how well you orchestrated the event. Now, after [describe experience], I am interested in applying for a position with your firm.

Check out our sample customized paragraph based on above:

When we met two years ago at the Miami Boat Show, I was amazed how well you orchestrated the event. Now, after producing successful trade shows myself, I am interested in applying for a position with your firm.

Customizable Opening Paragraph #15:

Thank you for spending time on the phone with me [timeframe]. I am definitely enthusiastic about your upcoming opening in [name of position]. I am enclosing my resume and [other relevant materials].Sample customized paragraph based on above:

Thank you for spending time on the phone with me this afternoon. I am definitely enthusiastic about your upcoming opening in marketing. I am enclosing my resume and writing samples.

Customizable Opening Paragraph #16:

It was wonderful meeting you at [event]. I would never have guessed that we have so much in common, nor would I have imagined that a conversation with you would spark a career change for me.

Check out our sample customized paragraph based on above:

It was wonderful meeting you at International Storytelling Weekend. I would never have guessed that we have so much in common, nor would I have imagined that a conversation with you would spark a career change for me.

Customizable Opening Paragraph #17:

Back in [timeframe], I wrote to you about the possibility of employment with your dynamic [type of employer]. [Description of recipient’s response]. I have just learned [vacancy you’ve learned of]. I’m writing to ask you to consider interviewing me as her possible replacement.

Check out our sample customized paragraph based on above:

Back in January, I wrote to you about the possibility of employment with your dynamic publication. You wrote me back an extremely nice letter. You said that with my qualifications, I should have no difficulty finding a job here. I have just learned that your arts writer is no longer with you. I’m writing to ask you to consider interviewing me as her possible replacement.

Customizable Opening Paragraph #18:

I am following up our telephone conversation of [date] to reinforce to you how well my background aligns with the [name of position].

Check out our sample customized paragraph based on above:

I am following up our telephone conversation of November 20 to reinforce to you how well my background aligns with the graduate-assistant position you have open for a nontraditional student coordinator.

Customizable Opening Paragraph #19:

It was truly delightful to meet you at [circumstance under which you met recipient] on [timeframe]. [Sentence that flatters recipient]. I’d like to [execute an action relevant to the targeted position]. You mentioned at the [circumstance under which you met recipient] that the time has come to hire a [name of position]. I’m convinced I could make a significant contribution in that position.

Check out our sample customized paragraph based on above:

It was truly delightful to meet you at Senator Frost’s brunch on Saturday. Your sense of humor is infectious, and I’m sure it goes a long way in helping you cope with your massive workload. I’d like to help make your workload and that of your staff lighter. You mentioned at the brunch that the time has come to hire a communications manager and I know that I am the best person for the job.

Master the basics of resume and cover letter writing by visiting these helpful pages

How to Mention a Referral in Your Cover Letter

A referral can help you stand out from the crowd when you are applying for a job. Hiring managers and recruiters are more likely to take a closer look at candidates with whom they share a mutual contact, and for good reason: studies have shown that hiring through employee referral is faster, cheaper, and more effective than relying on job sites. Referral hires also tend to get up to speed more quickly, fit in better, and stay at the company longer.

A referral cover letter can make the difference in helping your application get noticed by prospective employers. It also gives the hiring manager some context for your work and provides additional information about you.

What Is a Referral Cover Letter?

A referral cover letter is used to mention a mutual connection when applying for a job. You might be referred by a colleague, a friend, an employee at the company you’re interested in, or even your college career office. Having a referral to mention in your cover letter helps the hiring manager relate your experience to the open position, and can provide some insight into how well you might fit in at the company.

Your cover letter is your opportunity to highlight your education, skills, and qualifications for the job. In addition to your referral, you will have the chance to mention a few specific examples of why you are the best candidate for the position, and give more detail than you can on your resume.

How to Get a Referral

The referral doesn't have to be a business connection. You can ask anyone you know at the company or who has a contact at the company if they would recommend you for a job.

Just be sure to check with the individual in advance and ask if they are willing to give you a referral. Even if you’re certain they’d vouch for you, giving a potential referral a heads-up ensures that they’ll be able to offer the best possible recommendation, given the job requirements.

You can send a letter or email asking for a referral, which will give the person the time and opportunity to think through what they can do for you, and how to proceed.

How to Mention a Referral in a Cover Letter

When you use a referral in your cover letter, you should mention it in the first paragraph. Include the individual by name and describe your connection with them as well. Give a brief account of how you know the person, in what context, and for how long you have been acquainted.

In addition, if the person recommended that you apply for this particular position, take the opportunity to mention why they are endorsing you. What qualities of yours made them think that you would be a good fit for the company?

For example:

My colleague Amy Smith recommended that I contact you directly about this position. Amy and I have worked closely in the industry for many years, and she thought that ABC Inc. would be a good fit for my style and experience in sales. She pointed out that as a successful, award-winning salesperson I would be an excellent addition to the sales team at ABC Inc.

Referral Cover Letter Tips

Name-dropping does not come easily to some people, especially if you're already struggling with how to write about your accomplishments and sell yourself to a hiring manager.

For this reason, it is often helpful to look at examples of cover letters. Be sure to tailor your letter to fit your personal and professional circumstances.

You should include a brief mention of the recommendation right away in the letter. This strategy puts the referral in the front of the reader's mind, giving them context for what follows.

This leaves you plenty of space to expand on your strengths and why you're the best candidate for the job. Your cover letter is your chance to make a strong first impression, since it is likely the first thing a hiring manager will see, possibly even before your resume. Take the opportunity to impress them with your contact and their recommendation, and then go on to show examples of your successes in the workplace to prove that you are the most qualified person for the job.

As with all your business correspondence, make sure that you proofread your cover letter for correct spelling and grammar, and check that the information matches on all the documents you submit. 

Read More: How to Ask for a Referral for a Job

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