When it comes to job searching, having a strong network of professional references can be an invaluable asset. A positive recommendation from a trusted source can give hiring managers the confidence they need to choose you over other candidates. This is why it’s essential to know how to ask someone to be a reference. These are our top tips on how to approach a potential reference and ask them for their assistance, what information you need to provide to your references, and how to follow up with your references after the job application process.
Who to ask for a reference
Asking someone to be a reference can be a nerve-wracking experience for job seekers, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The first step is to identify potential professional references. Former supervisors, colleagues, mentors, professors, and even close friends are excellent choices for references. When considering someone to be your reference, keep in mind their relationship with you and their familiarity with your work. Then, before you send their personal information to a potential employer, ask if they are willing to be your professional reference. This helps prevent any misunderstandings and gives your references an opportunity to prepare for the hiring manager’s call or email. If you follow these two steps you will ensure that they will confidently provide a strong and relevant recommendation to the hiring manager.
How to ask someone to be a reference
When approaching someone to ask for a reference, it’s best to do it in person, through email, or over the phone. This shows them that you respect their time, opinion, effort, and that you are serious about the job that you have applied for. It’s essential to be clear about the reasons you’re asking for their reference, provide details about the position, and express gratitude for their time.
You can use the following template as a guide for a reference request email:
Dear [Reference Name],
I hope this email finds you well. I am currently applying for [Job Title] at [Company Name] and would be honored if you would be willing to serve as a professional reference for me.
Your insights into my work and character would be invaluable in helping me secure this position. If you are willing, please let me know, and I will provide you with the necessary information.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Be prepared for a “no”
It’s important to be prepared for the possibility that a reference request might get declined. If someone is unable or unwilling to provide a reference for you, it’s important to be gracious and understanding. Remember, there may be a variety of reasons why someone can’t serve as a reference at a particular time, and it’s not necessarily a reflection on your qualifications or your relationship with that person. If you do receive a negative response, you can simply thank the person for considering your request and ask if there’s anyone else they might recommend who could serve as a reference for you.
It’s also possible that one of your references may not be able to respond to the hiring manager’s request. Because of these two reasons it’s always recommended to have more professional references than requested. Ideally, you should have a pool of about 5-7 potential references to draw from. This will give you some flexibility in case one of your references is unable to respond, and will help ensure that you have the best chance possible of landing the job you want.
What to provide to your reference
Now that you have references that are willing to aid you, they need to be prepared. Providing your reference with enough information can help them tailor their recommendation to the specific job you’re applying for and increase your chances of getting hired. This can include the job description, your resume, a list of your skills and accomplishments, and any other relevant information that could be useful. You can also guide them by letting them know which accomplishments, skills, qualifications, and experience they should mention to the hiring manager in order to increase your chances of landing the job.
It’s also essential to give your references enough time to prepare their recommendation. Let them know when you will be submitting your job application or when they should expect to be contacted by a hiring manager. This will help ensure that they have enough time to prepare a thoughtful and persuasive recommendation.
Following up with your references
After asking someone to be your reference, it’s essential to keep them updated on your job search progress. Let your references know whether you got the job or not through thank-you letters, and express your gratitude for their time and support. Following up with your references not only shows that you appreciate their efforts, but it can also help maintain and strengthen your professional relationships.
If you land the job, you can use the following template to write your thank you letters:
Dear [Reference’s Name],
I wanted to take a moment to express my sincerest gratitude for being a reference for me during my job search. Your support and recommendation helped me secure the position I was hoping for.
Your words of encouragement and insight into my qualifications for the job were invaluable, and I am incredibly grateful for your time and effort in providing a professional reference for me. Your endorsement was critical to my success in obtaining this job, and I truly appreciate it.
I hope that I can repay your kindness and generosity in some way. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to assist you in the future.
Once again, thank you so much for your support and encouragement. I truly appreciate it.
If unfortunately you did not get a job offer, you can instead use this thank-you letter template:
Dear [Reference’s Name],
I hope this letter finds you well. I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your support during my recent job search. Although I was not offered the position, I am incredibly grateful for your time and effort in providing a professional reference for me.
Your endorsement and recommendation were invaluable, and I truly appreciate the confidence you expressed in my qualifications for the job. Even though the outcome was not what we hoped for, I am thankful for your support and guidance throughout the process.
Your willingness to serve as a reference for me speaks volumes about the strength of our professional relationship, and I look forward to continuing to work with you in the future.
Once again, thank you so much for your time and support. Your assistance has been invaluable, and I am deeply grateful.
Asking for a job reference can be intimidating, but it’s an essential part of the job search process. By following these best practices, you can increase your chances of receiving a strong recommendation and landing your dream job. Remember to choose your references wisely, provide them with enough information, and follow up with them after the job application process. Being proactive and showing appreciation for your references’ time and effort can help you build and maintain strong professional relationships that can benefit you throughout your career.
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