How To Give AND Get Good References
How to Ask for a Reference
When looking for jobs or applying to schools, you'll most likely need references. Getting a reference can be as easy as asking for one. However, if you want a strong reference (hint: you do), you’ll need to put forth a little extra effort. Getting a strong reference requires careful preparation and shrewd communication with your potential referees.
Sample Letter of Reference Requests
Determine the type of references you need.There different types of references, depending on the position for which you’re applying. References can also take one of several forms. Phone calls, emails, questionnaires, and letters of recommendation are all common. Be sure to review the applications instructions carefully to make sure that you secure the right kind of reference.
- The most common type of reference is a professional reference. In this case, your referee should be able to attest to your ability to get the job done.
- Another common type of reference is a personal reference. In this case, your referee should be able to attest to your character.
- If you have a LinkedIn profile, you have the option of obtaining a .
Pick the right people.Different reference types often require people to serve as referees. Make sure that the person you’re asking can provide you with kind of reference you need. Ask yourself, “Who will be most able to discuss my qualifications for this position?”
- Don’t limit yourself to former or current employers. Co-workers, former teachers and professors, ministers, and even your attorney might be able provide you with a strong reference.
- If you’re applying for multiple positions, consider asking different people to serve as referees for different positions.
- Make a list of reasons why you’re asking a particular person to be a referee for you. Include details like the basis and extent of his or her relationship with you, his or her professional qualifications, and the kinds of things he or she will be able to say about you. Not only will this list help you narrow down your list of potential referees, it will also come in handy when you actually ask for references.
Update your resume.This might seem like a no-brainer. However, you’re going to want to provide your potential referees with useful information about yourself. An updated resume will serve them better than an out-of-date one.
Asking Your Referees
Ask early.Your referees, should they agree to be your referees, are doing you a favor. Give them at least two weeks to prepare and, if necessary, write you a letter of recommendation.
Decide how you will ask.There is some disagreement about the best way to ask someone to be a reference. Asking someone in person or over the phone is more personal, but you run the risk of making someone uncomfortable.Asking someone in an email is less personal, but it gives the person a chance to consider the request.Use your best judgment.
- Whether you ask for a reference in person, on the phone, or in an email, give the potential referee the option of saying “no.” Ask the potential referee, “Do you feel that you are able to give me a strong reference?” If a potential referee does in fact say “no,” be grateful. It’s far better to have someone who really wants give you a reference on your side.
- Be polite. Let your potential referees know how much you appreciate their efforts. And let them know that you’re available to answer any questions they might have.
Tell your referees about the position.Supply them with job ad itself. You should also come up with your own description of the position.
Explain why you’re asking them.Remember the lists you made when you were deciding who to ask? Now’s the time to use those lists again. Make an effort to draw connections between your potential referee’s qualifications and the position for which you’re applying. For example, you might say, "Since you are a successful business owner, I thought that Business University's School of Business would value your opinion of me."
Offer a guide.Be very upfront about what you want your referees to say about you. You might say something along the following lines: “Given our history, I think you’re the right person to talk about my abilities in these areas…”
- You can offer them anything from a simple list to a full-blown draft of a letter of recommendation. The more specific and thorough you are, the more grateful your referees will be.
- Give your referees explicit permission to add or delete parts of your guide as they see fit. This will let your referees know that you trust their judgement. You can say, “This is just a guide. I hope that you will make whatever changes you think are necessary.”
Give your referees a copy of your resume.Remember: an updated resume is far more useful than an out-of-date one.
Follow up.Once you’ve submitted your application materials, be sure to send thank-you notes, and keep your referees in-the-loop about the progress of your job search. A quick email that begins, “I wanted to give an update about the job I applied for.”
- Whether or not you end up getting the position for which you applied, maintaining contact with your referees is a smart idea. You might need to call on them to provide references for other applications. And they might be able to alert you to job openings.
- If the reference is of a character type, ask someone who knows you well. If this person has some standing in the community or is a professional person such as a doctor, teacher, business owner, local politician etc. this will be helpful.
- For anything school related a recent instructor who's class you did well in or who you feel knows your work well is best. A counselor, boss, or coworker might work as an additional reference but you should try to have at least one instructor for school related things (i.e. scholarship applications, study abroad applications, grad school applications, etc.). If the reference is job related you should focus on either bosses or coworkers who you feel know you and your work well.
- Be prepared for someone to say no. There are various reasons someone might decline to give you a reference. If you really want to know you can ask, but if they give you a vague answer (e.g.I just don't do references,I don't think I can help you, etc.) accept it. Don't push.
- Don't wait for the last minute to ask if at all possible; although sometimes this may be unavoidable if the deadline you are given is super short.
- If doing an application for a scholarship/grant/etc. that uses community involvement/volunteering as a criteria for selection it is very helpful to have a community member give a recommendation. This can include supervisors at volunteer sites, other volunteers you've worked closely with, business owners you've worked closely with, and even someone who you have helped while volunteering (i.e. an elderly person at the old folks home you volunteer to read at weekly, the regular at the food pantry who you talk to every time you see them, etc.). Again pick someone who you feel knows you well personally as well as your work ethic.
- If you are applying for your first job it is usual to ask for a reference from your last school/college or university. Teachers and lecturers expect to provide references but it is still polite to ask them beforehand. If you left education some while ago but have never worked, you should ask someone who knows you well to provide a reference for you.
- If someone agrees to be a reference, consider asking that person to write you a letter of recommendation as well. This may be useful in future applications.
- Do not, under any circumstances, list someone as a reference if that person has not agreed to be your reference. Not only do you risk getting a shoddy reference, but you also risk alienating a potential reference.
- Do not include references with your application materials unless explicitly asked to so.
Video: How to Ask Your Boss for a Reference for Another Job
Easy hairstyles with rotating curls
5 LOW-CAL WORK DAY MENUS
How to Differentiate Between a Real Skater and a Poser Skater
3 Sites for...Meal Planning
How to Stop Spots
Many Lesbians Not Screened for Cervical Cancer
Dreams Setting Off Panic
10 Easy And Quick Ways To Use Lemon Curd
6 Doctor-Approved Tips For Beating Winter Bugs
Tylenol Sinus Congestion-Pain Cool Burst
How to Move Across the Country for Cheap
A Violinist Plays For His Surgeons – As They Operate On His Brain