It's not what you know, but who you know, right? If you know someone who works for a company you're applying to, don't be afraid to mention their name in your cover letter. Many businesses encourage and reward employees for referring job candidates, so it could benefit both of you. Just make sure to find out the proper procedures for employee referrals and follow them carefully.
Here are some other guidelines to being an effective name-dropper:
- Find out if your referral knows the hiring manager who will be reviewing cover letters and resumes. You'll need to explain the relationship if your referral is someone the hiring manager has never heard of. Example: Jane Doe, the SEO Manager in the Marketing Department suggested I contact you.
- Make sure your contact is on good terms with the hiring manager. If there was some kind of falling out between the two, dropping that name could do more harm than good.
- Double-check that your contact is OK with being named. It's in poor taste to use the name of a referral without letting them know you're doing it. Like your job references, anyone you would mention in a cover letter deserves a chance to back out if they're not comfortable with it.
- Give a copy of your cover letter to your contact so they know what you're saying about them. In case the hiring manager refers to a point you made in your cover, you don't want to catch your contact by surprise.
Taking that a step further, you could ask your referral to hand-deliver your cover letter and resume to the hiring manager. But you should also follow the employer's typical procedure for applying to a job opening (online or by email) so they'll have an electronic version they can forward to others.
To highlight a referral in your cover letter effectively, do it in the opening paragraph. Here's an example:
Jason Alexander, Product Manager at ABC Productions, suggested I get in touch with you regarding the Associate Product Manager opening. In addition to the background information Jason provided, I've had the pleasure of reviewing ABC Productions' web site and am very enthusiastic about the opportunity.
Or, you could say something like this:
I would like to express my interest in the Associate Product Manager position at ABC Productions. Jason Alexander, one of your Product Managers, has told me great things about the company ...
If you have the right referral within the company who can vouch for your character and work ethic, you could jump a few steps ahead of your competition. And as always, keep networking. The broader your network of friends, family, colleagues, and online contacts, the better your chance of having a helpful name to drop.
Need to build a cover letter? Pongo's Cover Letter Builder provides over a dozen cover letter templates with fill-in-the-blank sample text, best practice advice, and sample phrases to help you get started. Build your cover letter today!
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