I am a graduate student and am interested in internships. I submitted a couple of applications two days ago, but found out today via LinkedIn that I have some friends who graduated last year, who work for those very companies.

Given that I have submitted the applications for those companies already, would it be considered okay / ethical for me to ask them for a referral at those companies? I presume that would mean, they take my resume and then pass it on directly to the hiring team to evaluate it, right? If so, that would significantly boost my chances getting past those bots/AI programs which filter resumes via keywords before any of them reach a human.

  • Yes, ask if you can use them as referral. Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 12:00
  • is it okay? don't know. is it the way this world works? yes.
    – tim human
    Commented May 16, 2015 at 13:19

3 Answers 3


As a recently graduated graduate student, I can attest to the importance of internships. Its much better for you to be referred by a trusted insider within your target company than it is to submit a resume / coverletter to the hiring manager as a complete unknown stranger. You are competing for one position and depending on prestige, company etc, you could be a nameless face in a sea of applicants. Think of it of this way - what is there to distinguish you from your fellow competitors other than the information contained in your application materials? Very little indeed.

Your friend is a current company employee whose character (presumably) management trusts and respects. By having your friend vouch for you, you gain another voice on your behalf and this fact increases the chance of a successful interview offer from the company.

Having said all of the above, you have already submitted your application. Henceforth, I advise against getting a referral. Having a duplicate application makes you look sloppy and unorganized, a turnoff for most hiring managers. Still, I would reach out to your buddies and ask whether they would be willing to serve as a reference in case the company asks for them during the hiring process. The chances of them doing so is much less than for a full time position, but it can't hurt to be diligent in your preparations.

  • 2
    In addition, if you know the HR person that is treating your application, nothing is stopping your friends from sending that person an email saying "Hey, I heard [yourname] is applying to the company, I hope he makes it in because I have good experience working with him on [insert thing here]. If you have any questions about him feel free to ask me!".
    – Cronax
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 8:17

In the companies I have worked for there has been a bonus offered if an employee makes a recommendation and the person ends up accepting the position and work for a period of at least 6 months. The key is that the bonus is only available if the resume has not already been in the system.

The goal of the program is to capture new resumes. There doesn't seem to be any weight assigned to the resume because of the recommendation. I have recommended people that never got an interview, and others that did get interviews. The automatic filters were still used, and HR still narrowed down the number of candidates.

Now in smaller companies there are not as many automated systems. They may use a 3rd party company to gather resumes, but will also accept them directly from employees. In that case getting the resume from a employee can still be a very good thing. There is no way to know if getting it from two source confuse the issue if they ow a finders fee to the recruiting company.

In the larger companies the employee when they make a recommendation fills out the info on an internal website, uploads a resume; and that creates a profile for the candidate. The candidate is then sent an email inviting them to complete the profile, and then apply for one or more positions. If the candidate already has a profile, the email is sent asking inviting them to apply but the employee doesn't get credit for the recommendation.

It is sometimes better to look for connections before applying.


Asking for the referral is in the best interest for both the candidate and the company, because:

  1. The company should hire the best fit for the position.

  2. If two candidates fit the same, the company should hire the one with a referral.

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