How to Ask Someone to beYour Reference (+Sample Email)

Created by CakeResume

When you are looking for a job, having a few good references will help strengthen your application. A simple reference request can make your job search more successful. Previous coworkers or teachers can remark on your work ethic, skills, and attitude, which helps your next employer assess your fitness for the new role. It’s a sensible decision to ask someone to be a reference when searching for a job. 

When you make an inventory of potential references, it’s very important to formally request for a reference before adding these people to the reference list on your resume. You don’t want to startle them by having a potential employer calling them out of nowhere. 

In general, sending a reference request email in advance is more professional and it gives them a chance to consider what they might say when asked about you. 

Asking someone to be a reference can be nerve-racking, but if your reference request letter is professional and positive, it will be hard to turn down. 

What Is a Reference?

A reference is anyone who can speak to your character, abilities, and employment experience. A reference request is an important part of your job application process, since your references can provide more color than a resume alone. When asking someone to be a reference, consider someone you worked with closely who you believe would amplify your good qualities when asked. 

Before deciding how to ask someone to be your reference, carefully consider who you will choose. There are different people you can request for a reference in your job search. A reference request from your previous job network is often the most obvious choice. 

A work reference could be a manager or supervisor that you reported to directly in your previous job, or even a co-worker. Asking someone to be a reference from work is practical since they can elaborate on your technical skills and work habits. 

You could also request a reference from your academic network. Academic references could be teachers or teachers’ assistants that are familiar with your work and personality, who can discuss your skills with a hiring manager. An academic reference request might be more suitable when applying for jobs that are directly related to your education. 

You could also ask someone to be a reference from your personal network. You could make a character reference request from a landlord, client, athletic coach, or even a counsellor or religious leader. These are less formal and uncommon and are typically used if you don’t have other reference request options. This type of reference may not be familiar with your work habits but can speak more to your character. 

How to Ask for a Reference by Email

When asking someone to be a reference, it’s important to craft a professional reference request email. If you have never done so before, it’s hard to know where to start. Here are a few tips on how to ask someone to be your reference via email. 

🖋 Choose the right people. 

Think carefully when you are asking someone to be a reference. Your choice of reference could depend on their personality, or it could vary with the jobs you are applying to. Think about what you need from your references before sending a reference request email. 

For example, if you are looking for a position as a computer engineer, you probably wouldn’t send a reference request to your high school teacher, since you need someone who can attest to your technical skills. Having the right person as your reference can help make your CV stand out!

🖋 Write a clear subject line. 

When asking for a reference by email, pay attention to your subject line. Your references get inundated with daily emails and some are more urgent than others. There is a chance your reference request letter could get lost in all the noise. Make sure you write a clear and simple subject line to catch their attention and make your reference request needs clear. 

🖋 Phrase the question carefully. 

When you consider how to ask someone to be a reference, it’s important to be professional and make your reference request politely. Don’t sound too demanding or try to rush them. You might end up setting the wrong tone in your request for a reference and alienating your contact. It’s vital that they have good things to say about you. 

🖋 Include details about the job you’re applying for in your reference request email

When asking someone to be a reference, it could be helpful to include details about the position you want. Your reference request email should be informative, not vague. This will help your reference prepare something to say about you when the hiring manager makes contact. 

Details like the name of the position and of the company, or the skills you have, are important to include in your reference request. They can make your reference’s job easier.

🖋 Show your appreciation for their help. 

A little gratitude goes a long way when you ask someone to be a reference. Let them know you appreciate their help and that their letter is valuable and useful. If you lead with gratitude, your reference request sounds inviting instead of demanding, and your contact could be more generous with their feedback. 

🖋 Attach your resume to the reference request email

When you ask someone to be a reference, it’s helpful to include your resume in the reference request email. It gives your reference an opportunity to review your skills and experience, so they can give your new hiring manager a more complete appraisal. 

🖋 Don’t pressure people into doing it. 

When you send a reference request email, don’t make your contact feel obligated to provide a reference for you. Everyone is dealing with their own busy schedules, and your reference request could cause undue stress or hardship. Don’t apply pressure to anyone and instead remain hopeful that they can make time to help you out. Ultimately, when you ask someone to be a reference, they are doing you a favor.

How to Ask Someone to be a Reference Email Example

It’s important to get the reference request email right, to secure your connection and make sure your reference is more positive. If you’re unsure how to ask someone for a reference, you can use this sample reference request email to guide you. 

Subject line: Reference Request for Richard Johnson 

Dear Jane, 

I hope this email reaches you well. It’s great to connect with you again. 

I am emailing to ask if you would be content to write a reference letter for me. I would be very grateful if you’re able to vouch for my skills and the work ethic I demonstrated while working on your team at Great Childcare Company. 

Currently, I am looking for a new position as an early childhood educator. My experience at Great Childcare Company helped me develop the skills and confidence I need to excel in this new role. I’m excited to move forward with my goals and your reference would add value to my application. 

My resume is attached. If you have any questions, or if I can clarify my experience at all, please don’t hesitate to ask. 

Thank you for considering my request, and I hope you have a great week. 


Reference Request Email Template

Writing a reference request email can be challenging if you’re not familiar with the tone and structure. Use this reference request email template to simplify your writing process.

Subject Line: Reference Request for [Name]

Dear [Name of Reference]

I hope you are doing well and still thriving at [Company Name]

I am emailing to ask if you are open to writing a reference letter for me. If you could vouch for my skills and character while working for [Company Name], I would be very grateful. 

I am seeking a new position as a [Position Name]. I’m excited to take this next step in my career and I feel my experience at [Company Name] makes me a good candidate for this new role. Your reference would be valuable in my job search. 

My resume is attached, and please let me know if there is any other information I can provide. 

Thank you very much for considering me. Always happy to hear from you. 

Warm Regards, 

🔑 Key Takeaways

Not everyone knows how to ask someone to be a job reference, but it’s important to have a list of references ready when you are searching for a new job. These reference requests can add value to your application because they can provide your hiring manager with a better picture of your skills, experience, and character. 

Whether you chose a previous supervisor, teacher, or counsellor, your reference request should be someone who will speak positively about your qualifications and attitude. 

A strong reference starts with a good reference request email, so make sure your reference request is polite and professional. Give detail about the new position and avoid pressuring your reference into helping you. Chose your references carefully since the people in your network can help you in your job search and accelerate your career.

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--- Originally written by Tiffany Quinn ---

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