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Successfully Asking Someone to Be Your Job Reference

During your job search, you may reach the step where you are asked for a list of references. This may happen at the beginning when you are filling out an application or later on in the interview process. Either way, it’s important to think about and put together a list of references who will be able to speak positively of you and your skill set. In today’s blog, we’ll look at who you should pick as your references and how to go about asking them.


Who to Choose

In general, you should have a list of 3 people who can be your references. The first step is to think of those you had a positive relationship with and who will be able to talk about your experience and qualities. Some of the people to consider as your reference may include former managers, co-workers, employees, customers or clients, teachers, or instructors, or those you are connected with through volunteer work or groups/clubs. Ideally, think of those you’ve had more interaction with and have worked with more recently. Additionally, in an article on Indeed, they recommend, “Start your initial list with everyone you can think of, then narrow it down based on your priorities, the nature of the relationship, and the position you’re applying for. Typically, companies ask for no more than three references, but it’s a good idea to have four or even five in case one becomes unavailable.”


Asking Someone to Be Your Reference

You never want to give out someone’s contact information as a reference without their permission, so once you’ve come up with your list, the next step is to reach out and see if they would be comfortable being your reference. Either call or email the person and see if that would be something they’d like to do. If for any reason, they show hesitation, politely back out of the invitation and move on to the next person on your list. When reaching out about the request, it can also be helpful to let them know a few brief details about the role you are considering, who will potentially reach out to them, and when that timeframe might be. In an article on Forbes, they give the advice “When contacting your chosen references, make their lives easier by sharing an updated version of your résumé and your LinkedIn profile. Provide a brief synopsis of what you’ve been doing in your current role, your primary responsibilities, big wins and achievements and some personal anecdotes to humanize the process. Share details of what you’ll be responsible for in the new role, the new corporate title and anything else that could add color and context.”


Express Your Gratitude

Once the job search is complete, reach out to your list of references and thank them for agreeing to help, even if they weren’t contacted as a reference check. You may want to send them a handwritten note or thoughtful email, or if they were instrumental in providing a positive reference that helped you land the job, you may want to send them a gift card.