How To Ask A Friend To Refer You For A Job At Their Company

Asking a friend for a job referral to their company can be awkward, but it can be done without sacrificing your friendship. Before you even bring it up, make sure you're 100% committed to applying for the position, FlexJobs states. If you want to show your friend you're decisive and reliable, confirm with yourself that you have no doubts; being flaky will automatically put a sour taste in their mouth. 


Requesting that your friend recommend you for a job opening is much more serious than asking to borrow their shirt, so it's crucial you approach the situation delicately. If you go about it the wrong way, you're not only losing out on a potential job offer, but your friendship can suffer as well. This is why it's important you know how to ask a friend to refer you for a job at their company. Whether you're ready for a career change or want to advance your career by switching companies, here's how to go about asking for a referral. 

Make sure you're qualified for the position

Before you consider asking your friend for a referral, verify you're actually qualified for the job. For example, if the position is in the publishing industry, and you have no prior experience or even a degree in the subject, chances are your friend is going to turn you down. To determine whether or not you're fit for the job, ensure you meet the required qualifications on the job listing (it helps to have some preferred qualifications too). Ask yourself if you're really enthusiastic about that specific role, or are you just desperate for a job? 


Another clear sign of competency is being able to discuss the work you'll be taking on without hesitation (i.e. you don't have to BS your way through the interview). Interviewers can spot a fake a mile away, so you'll be doing yourself a disservice by applying. Not to mention, you'll make your friend look bad because they vouched for you.

Ask them via text message or email

When it comes to actually having the conversation, your best bet is to communicate with your friend by text or email. By asking them in person or via phone call, you're essentially putting them on the spot. This may cause them to say yes in a panic, even though they have doubts about referring you to their company. By writing your request to your friend, you're giving them time to actually consider the pros and cons of doing you this favor. 


Putting someone on the spot can actually create trust issues between the two of you, which may compromise your friendship, according to Psychology Today. To keep this from happening, start a new email and hang up the phone. Let them know they don't need to give you an answer right away, and that you're open to talking about it in person or over the phone if they so choose. 

Be ready to explain your reasoning

Just because the two of you are friends doesn't mean they'll say yes to a referral right away. Maybe they have issues with the two of you working together. They may find you distracting, or perhaps, they're afraid of what might happen to your friendship if it doesn't work out. Working alongside friends can be a very fulfilling experience, but it requires boundaries on both ends, Career Contessa explains. This could mean refraining from discussing personal information or things that happen outside the office.


In any case, if your friend voices their concerns, make sure you're prepared to explain why you should have the job. It's good to have a speech at the ready if your friend needs more convincing. If they say no, maintain your composure, and whatever you do, do not get defensive. It's a normal reaction, but it isn't going to change their mind. In fact, it may make things worse. It's not an easy ask, nor is it an easy answer.

Remember it's a request, not an order

Keep in mind that when you ask your friend for a referral they don't have to say yes. You're asking them for a favor; you aren't telling them what to do. There's a fine line between the two, and you don't want to cross it. Doing so can put a major strain on your friendship. If your friend isn't comfortable with referring you to their company, you have to respect that — no ifs, ands, or buts. On the other hand, if you're asked to provide a job recommendation, there are certain ways to navigate the situation.


If you feel your friend isn't the best fit for a job opening at your company, Robert Half recommends responding to their request in writing. Give a quick explanation as to why you are refusing the favor, but keep the message short and sweet. If applicable, kindly explain to them that you haven't worked with each other long enough — or at all — so you don't feel comfortable giving a recommendation.

Prepare to face rejection

Above all else, remember that a referral does not equal a job offer, so just because your friend recommended you for the job, that doesn't mean you're a shoo-in. It's merely a referral — they aren't demanding their boss hire you (if they did, they may be the one looking for a job). Yes, your friend is vouching for you, but that's about all they can do; it's up to their boss to make the final decision.


On the plus side, referrals are four times more likely to be successful than website applicants, per Zippia. Still, be prepared for either outcome, good or bad. Best case scenario, you get the job and the opportunity to work alongside a friend. Worst case scenario, you don't get a job offer, but it's good to know your friend believed in you and your capabilities. No matter how the journey ends, be sure to thank them for doing you this favor.