How to Refer a Friend for a Job

February 10, 2010

Have you ever been asked to refer a friend for a job where you know nothing about their industry but want to help them out?

Referring a Friend (Blind)

Our neighbor recently applied online for a job at the company I work for but the job is in a different department working in an area that I really know nothing about.  He called me up and asked if I could put in a good word for him at work.  He’s been applying to several jobs lately and due to the flood of applicants the bad economy had dumped on the job market, he’s found it’s much easier to get an interview if someone in the company will put in a good word for you.

I asked him a few questions about his background just to get a rough idea of what his experience level was but still felt pretty shaky about it since I’m not familiar with his field or work ethic.  Just because someone’s a great person and you enjoy hanging out with them while your kids play doesn’t mean you know whether they do a quality job in their profession.

Google + Social Media = 2 Minute Resume

I wasn’t sure the best way to help him out BUT not look bad to my company by recommending someone I didn’t really know much about professionally.  I ended up researching him a bit on Google and finding his LinkedIn profile which gave me some good stuff to work with.

On top of not knowing much about his career, I didn’t even know who in my company would be hiring for a job like his.  I asked my boss, who wasn’t really sure but gave me the name of someone in that department.  I went through Outlook and looked at the groups that person belonged to and found two people that appeared to be the appropriate contacts.  I sent them both the email below, turns out they weren’t the right resources but one of them forwarded me onto just the person I was looking for:

Names & profession changed to protect the innocent. It wasn’t Chris Brogan but I knew he had a public Linked in profile I could use as an example.


Hi Cindy and Sharon,

I saw you were both part of the Outlook ACME Recruiters group, I hope you don’t mind me asking questions about the Software III position in New York City that was just posted under the Current Open Positions.

My next door neighbor, Chris Brogan, applied online yesterday for the Software III position and I wanted to see if there was any further information I could pass onto him about what types of things you are looking for in a candidate.

I’ve never worked with him professionally but our kids play together and through various conversations I’ve learned that he’s done a good job at the software company where he’s worked for over a decade, ABC Tech.  I checked out his LinkedIn profile after talking to him last night,, and he moved up from a Software Engineer to a Software Team Lead and then Systems Manager so it sounds like he knows the industry well.

Is there any additional info I could pass onto Chris about what ACME needs from the person who will fill the position or about how the interview process works?


The recruiter called him up the next day and he has an interview scheduled so the ball’s in his court now.  I sure was glad to find a bunch of info about his experience and skills on LinkedIn.  It made it much easier for me to feel comfortable referring him and to put some substance in the email other than, “my neighbor is cool, please interview him”.

What do you think of the email I came up with? Have you had good/bad experiences referring friends?  What has worked best for you (and them)?


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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12 Responses to How to Refer a Friend for a Job

  • Anna

    Thank you! I was at a loss as to how I should word it. My friend asked me to put in a word for her and I used yours as a reference. Thank you!

  • Phil

    This was a terrific way of explaining how to refer someone to your company. Great advice and great example. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Adam@RabbitFunds

    I like the subtle approach of the letter. Thanks for the advice.

  • WorryFree

    I feel referrals for personal friends is a very tricky area. There is no way you can provide an honest input for a personal friend with whom you have never worked. In fact these are the referrals that usually go very badly.

    I think you have suggested a great model for referring friends. I will definitely look this up when I have to refer a friend or when I have to ask someone to refer me!

  • Kate

    I once referred a friend for a job where I worked in high school and it ended badly which has made me shy away from referring again. Your post really gave me some food for thought on how to research someone. I generally look up any applicants for my open positions on LinkedIn and Facebook. It is interesting the thngs you can find out. Kudos to you for really doing your neighbor some good in the job hunt. Keeping my fingers crossed he makes a great impression at his interview.


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