How to Ask Someone to Be a Professional Reference (+ Email Example) 
Building a reference list can be impactful to a job search as a job seeker. Combining references with a recommendation letter (or reference letter) can provide a potential employer and hiring manager with the right information they need to validate work history, skills, qualifications, and other key attributes in your job application.
A reference list or job reference list is of work references to professionals who can speak to and validate what it was like to work alongside the job applicant. This should be composed of colleagues or managers from a previous employer or past employer rather the job seekers current employer.
Tip: When a hiring manager is going to contact a professional from a reference list, they will inform you, the job seeker, that they intend to perform a “reference check”. From here, job seekers may want to contact their references and inform them that they may be contacted by a hiring manager or recruiter. Job seekers may want to schedule a “reference call” with their contact to guide them through what skills and qualities to highlight to the recruiter or hiring manager.
References can be useful for hiring managers during the interview process. For example, after an interview is complete, if the team or hiring manager felt parts of the job seekers' resume were not communicated effectively, they may rely on the references to help clarify. This can be impactful to increasing the odds of receiving a job offer for a new job if the job interview didn’t provide enough detail.
How to Ask Someone to Be a Reference
Before asking a professional to be a potential reference, determine whether or not the professional will be a good reference. This is someone who is willing to speak to you in a positive fashion. This is a possible reference that is willing to be a positive reference.
Some of the professional’s that job seekers may want to consider to ask to be a reference:
- A professor or other academic references.
- Former employer, former boss, supervisor or other strong reference with a significant job title.
- Former colleague who had close work with a significant accomplishment.
- Other potential referees include close family members or friends who had experience working with you in a professional manner.
A bad reference for a job application would be someone who:
- Cannot speak about the professional using work history or work examples.
- Won’t be able to validate information on the job seeker’s resume.
- Does not have any connection to the job seeker, professionally.
- Is only able to provide the prospective employer with character reference or personal reference information.
Tip: When asking a professional to be a reference, it’s helpful to provide the recommender a copy of the job seeker’s resume, cover letter, a link to the job posting, and other job application details.
As a job seeker, to create a reference request, choose the right person from your professional history and send them an email informing them of your job hunt. Provide the professional with details of your job search, like the job application and job posting information. Inform the recipient that a future employer may contact them to ask questions. Confirm the recipient is willing to assist.
Reference Request Email Example
Below is an example asking a colleague or manager to be a professional reference.
Subject Line: Reference Request
Recommendation Letter Templates
More recommendation letter resources.
- Letter of Recommendation for a Teacher
- Letter of Recommendation for a College Student
- Letter of Recommendation for a Coworker
- Letter of Recommendation for a Friend
- Letter of Recommendation for an Eagle Scout
- Letter of Recommendation for Graduate School
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