How to Properly Ask for a Job Referral

Over the years, people have asked me to refer them to jobs and hiring managers have also asked me to refer people because they trusted my judgement and eye for great talent. Hence, I take job referrals quite seriously and I’ve also spoken to peers and managers about how they handle job referral requests. After receiving dozens of random requests for job referrals lately, I thought it was time to share some of my biggest tips and pet peeves with you all!

Why job referrals are great

Job referrals can help you get through the initial screening stages of the recruitment process. For example, your resume could go directly into the hands of a hiring manager instead of being filtered out through the ATS. Your resume also gets more attention because there’s someone “backing up” your job application. Oftentimes, employees will also receive a bonus for referring external talent (creating a win-win situation).

What to keep in mind

When someone makes a job referral for you, they are putting their reputation on the line. This means that they are advocating for your talent and believe you would be a good fit for the role or company. Everyone is busy, especially hiring managers. Making referrals for random people can be a waste of time, especially if the candidates don’t fit the role. That’s why it is important for you to be serious about which jobs you’re asking for referrals to and make it as easy as possible for someone to refer you.

Ideally, you want to ask those who already know you and have worked with you in the past. That way, they can vouch for you a lot better in the case that a hiring manager reaches out to them. If you don’t know someone directly, you can ask a friend or warm contact to make a connection for you (networking is key).

My approach to job referrals

Usually, I prefer to give referrals to those that I know and have worked with in the past (from work or university). There have been times when I have had to say no to a referral request because I didn’t believe I knew enough about someone’s skills or experiences to give them a proper referral.

If I don’t know someone or haven’t worked with them directly before, then I will ask them to share a reference letter from a peer or manager that they currently work with. This shows me that they’re serious about getting my referral and are a decent team member that others can vouch for.

Note: I am not the type of person to half-ass a recommendation or give people false hope, so if I don’t think I can give a proper recommendation, then I won’t waste your time but I will still give feedback and advice to help! Different people have different approaches to referrals so you may also have better luck asking someone else (don’t give up).

6 Steps for Success

If you’re serious about asking me for a job referral to Microsoft, please follow these steps:

  1. Update your resume and tailor it to the job posting (take the initiative to read my blog/follow my tips/get feedback via Resume Rescue or at least get your resume reviewed by someone else).
  2. Apply for the job(s) at and get the Job ID(s)
  3. If we haven’t worked together before, get a reference letter from a peer or manager that you currently work with that can speak to your skills/experiences that are relevant to the job posting.
  4. Draft an elevator pitch in third-person (max. 2000 characters) about your skills, experiences, and knowledge that make you a great fit for the role (this is what I copy/paste into the referral form).
  5. Email me or message me on LinkedIn with the following:
    • Why are you asking ME for a job referral beyond the obvious of wanting a job?
    • Attach your resume and reference letter (if applicable)
    • Share the Job ID(s) that you applied for
    • Paste your elevator pitch (max. 2000 characters)
  6. Follow up with me if you don’t get a response within 1 week.

Please note that this is my personal approach to making job referrals or recommendations. These steps may also be helpful to consider if you’re asking others (but always check with them first). You can also check out Yanira Sesniak’s LinkedIn Article on how to get a Microsoft referral.

What not to do (pet peeves)

❌ Sending a cold message asking for a referral without any details or context (comes across spammy)
❌ Sharing a resume that is not updated or tailored to the job posting (shows you’re not serious)
❌ Sending a message with spelling/grammatical mistakes (shows lack of attention to detail)

Hope this is helpful for you and I wish you the best of luck!