asking someone to be a reference

Just like any other favor, asking someone to be a reference can seem daunting. You’re putting yourself out there and there is always the rare chance that the person may turn you down. We can’t predict the person’s response, but the more thought you put into the person you ask, the better the chances of them helping you. Choose people you work/worked closely with and trust. Once you’ve decided on who to ask, it’s important to approach the topic with these helpful tips below!

Ask Early

It’s always important to ask someone as soon as possible. If you’re applying for jobs, chances are, the company will want a list of references if you’re pushed forward in the hiring process. Ahead of time, contact your references letting them know you’re currently seeking jobs and are hoping to write them down as references if you’re asked for them. This way if they get a phone call, they won’t be surprised and possibly give you a weaker reference because they are caught off guard. And if they’re really busy or are away for the week, they can let you know so you can seek out a more available reference. It’s always a common courtesy to ask, even if you’ve used them as a reference in the past.

Phrase Carefully

When asking someone to be a reference, try to not make them feel like they HAVE to or are being put on the spot. Let them know that you value them as a business contact and politely ask them if they would be comfortable providing you with a reference. Forming it this way allows them to say no if they feel the need to. Maybe it’s because they don’t believe they knew you enough to speak as a reference or are currently busy. Don’t make them feel overwhelmed or pressured to say yes.

Provide Information

If someone agrees to be your reference, provide them with as much detail as possible so they can give you the glowing recommendation that you need to land the job. Let them know about the position you are applying for, where it is, and other details that may be necessary to know. Some references are done through an online portal, so that would be helpful to know! The easier you make the process for them, the better it will be and the more likely they will agree to be a reference for you again.

Say Thank You

Always say thank you when they agree to be a reference! Even if they don’t, thank them for their time in reaching back out to you. For those that agree to be your reference, send a quick thank you note (preferably handwritten), but if not email is fine! It’s nice to show them that you truly appreciate them taking the time to help you. Also, take the time to let the person know if you get the position that they recommend you for. As part of the process, they’ll be itching to know too!

We hope these basic tips in asking someone to be a reference are helpful! No matter what, whoever you ask, will be absolutely flattered that you thought of them. Happy job hunting!