I recently applied for a job at a public organization(which functions like a government) externally, and today one of my references who is internal to the organization highly recommended me to the hiring manager. After meeting with my potential supervisor, my reference told me that someone internal to the organization already got the job even before the job was posted on the organization's website. But the supervisor also said that she will be posting the opening for the same job sometime next week, and that I should continue checking the organization's website and I should apply for that opening.

I surfed around internet for a bit and found an article about "referral cover letter" (the cover letter that mentions that the candidate was referred to the job by an internal candidate) . Should I write this referral cover letter when I apply for the job next week? I am tempted to, because although my reference told my name to my supervisor, my name is somewhat unusual and she might not recognize my name on my resume, so if I somehow mention my reference in my cover letter the supervisor will know who I am. But then like any governmental organization the organization is strict about their hiring policy (they have to follow the rule), that everyone should apply via online only.

Should I write referral cover letter to make myself stand out, or should I not? I don't want them to have a negative impression about me. I meet all of the qualification for the job, I am positive that I am a highly qualified candidate for the job.

Thank you,

  • 1
    I suggest that, unless you absolutely feel you have to, don't do it. Sometimes it is better to mention those things during an interview, so they can focus first on your skills rather than your contacts or who you know.
    – DarkCygnus
    Aug 23, 2017 at 23:46
  • @GrayCygnus but will I even get an interview, if they don't know that I am the person that was referred? It is really hard to lend a job as an external candidate in that organization. If I absolutely don't stand out amongst internal applicants I won't even get a chance for an interview, just like the posting I already applied to. The internal candidate already got the job even before the job was posted
    – jschnieder
    Aug 23, 2017 at 23:59
  • If the hiring policy is so strict about all applicants applying online, how did the internal candidate get the first job before it was even posted online?
    – colbin8r
    Aug 24, 2017 at 19:41

1 Answer 1


Keep it Simple

Bear in mind many organizations, government and not, have a policy of preferring internal candidates over external ones, so a referral cover letter may not even matter.

Additionally, and this is more common in government than in private industry, an organization may translate your application into a standard format to ensure everyone's application looks the same to the hiring supervisor. If this agency does that, then your referral cover letter may be removed anyway.


  1. Skip the referral cover letter.

  2. Apply online like you are required to do.

  3. Immediately tell your inside refernce that you just applied and ask them to let the supervisor know the same. In this conversation or email or text message - your inside reference will obviously have to use your name to reference you, and thus, your goal of linking your inside reference to your name will be complete.


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