How to Ask Someone to Be a Reference

Job Search, Job Interviews

When conducting a job search, one of the first things an interested employer will ask for is a list of references. These are people who can confirm your professional experience and vouch for your value as an employee. References are traditionally professional contacts, like former co-workers and managers. And, they are responsible for giving your future boss some insight into how you might perform in your new position. References are valuable factors into whether you get hired or not. It’s important to choose them appropriately. 

While it might feel daunting or awkward to ask someone to act as your reference, it’s important to find a few good ones. These people will improve your credibility greatly, and you can use the same ones again and again as you grow. But it’s always important to ask for permission; no one ever wants a call they’re not expecting or ready for. And, in this article, we’re giving you the top tips for asking someone to be your professional reference. 


Always Choose the Right People to Act as Your Reference

A good word in from your mom or spouse just doesn’t carry the same weight as a recommendation from another professional. These people may have some great things to say about you, but your personal relationship together adds some unwanted complexity. When deciding on your references, it’s important to choose a professional who:


  • Knows You Well

Avoid choosing someone to be a reference just because you’ve worked together. It pays off to go out of your way to choose references who know you, your work ethic, and how you operate. It might be helpful to give your references a current copy of your professional resume and update them on your skills and accomplishments. 

  • Will Give a Great Recommendation

It might seem like a no-brainer, but another important consideration to make when choosing your references is the kind of review they’ll give. Stick to people you are sure will provide honest, positive feedback and who you’ve had time to pre-screen. Remember, your references will have a direct influence on the hiring manager’s opinion of you and you should choose them accordingly. 


6 Tips for Asking Someone to Be a Professional Reference

The professional relationships in your life are valuable. You should take them seriously. Not only can these relationships help you grow and learn more about yourself, but they can also be beneficial for opportunities in the future. For this reason, you should maintain and foster the very best of these relationships, even when the work together ends. Doing this can provide you with a strong list of references to follow you through any job search. 

But it’s always important to ask for permission. Once you’ve decided on a professional reference you’d like to add to your resume, the 4 most important tips for asking are to:


  • Give them Enough Time to Respond Before Your Interview

The hiring process happens quickly. Make sure to give your reference plenty of time to consider your request and review the necessary information before committing to being your reference. The last thing you want to do is come across as disorganized.

  • Phrase Your Request Appropriately

Be nice to your reference! This should go without saying, but your potential reference is doing you a favor and it should always feel that way. Make sure to remind your reference who you are, the projects on which you worked together, and the direction your career is taking. 

More than that, you should also phrase the request in a way that makes it easy for them to decline if they want to. Don’t push reluctant references, and never put someone in an awkward situation. You only want your employer to hear the very best things about you.

  • Provide Necessary and Helpful Details

As mentioned above, your reference should have all the information they need. Supply them with a copy of your resume, skills, and any other beneficial information. You might even consider coaching them on the strengths you’d like them to focus on and the qualities they should be showcasing.

Your reference is just as busy as you are, and helping you out should never feel like a chore. Make sure they are totally ready to answer the questions that come their way. 

  • Don’t Forget to Thank Them

After everything is complete, and whether you get the job or not, you should always thank your reference. They put time and effort into helping you get a new position, and it’s important to feel appreciative. Not only that but sending a ‘Thank You’ card could encourage them to give another positive referral again next time. 


Final Thoughts

References who are ready and qualified are an extremely important element of the job search. These relationships can help a potential employer determine whether you will be a good role for a position, and are often used as a final deciding factor for your employment. There is only so much an employer can learn through a resume and interview, which is why references continue to be a required part of any job interview. Finding the right ones, and asking them appropriately is a necessary component to any career advancement.