Three Tips for How to Ask People to Be References

When landing that dream job, your references can play a pivotal role. They give potential employers a glimpse into your work ethic, character, and professional accomplishments. However, asking someone to be a reference can sometimes feel awkward or challenging. If you’re struggling to get the ball rolling, these three tips can help streamline the process and ensure you secure solid and effective references.


Choose the Right People

The first step is to carefully consider who to ask. The ideal reference is someone who:

  • Knows You Well Professionally: Choose someone who has directly observed your work and can speak confidently about your skills, achievements, and work ethic. This could be a former supervisor, a colleague, a mentor, or even a client.
  • Has a Positive Opinion of You: It’s crucial to select people who think highly of you and are likely to recommend you enthusiastically.
  • Is Articulate and Reliable: Ensure your references can communicate effectively. A reference who can articulate specific examples of your strengths and accomplishments will be more convincing.


Make a Thoughtful Approach

How you ask is just as important as who you ask. When reaching out:

  • Personalize Your Request: Whether you’re sending an email, making a phone call, or asking in person, tailor your approach. Remind them of your shared experiences or the projects you worked on together. This personal touch can make a big difference.
  • Be Clear and Respectful: Explain why you’re reaching out and what the role entails. Tell them why they would be an excellent reference for this position. Respect their time and understand if they cannot fulfill your request.
  • Provide Necessary Information: If they agree to be your reference, provide them with all the necessary information about the job you’re applying for, your recent resume, and any specific skills or experiences you would like them to highlight. This will help them provide more targeted and practical recommendations.


Maintain the Relationship

Keeping the relationship active is essential after someone agrees to be your reference.

  • Keep Them Updated: Inform your references about the progress of your job search. Let them know when a potential employer might contact them.
  • Show Appreciation: Regardless of the outcome, thank your references for their time and support. A simple thank-you note or email can go a long way in showing your gratitude.
  • Stay in Touch: Maintain the relationship even after your job search ends. Networking is an ongoing process, and you never know when you might need their assistance again or when you can help them.


Asking for references is a crucial step in your job search and should be considered carefully. By choosing the right people, taking a thoughtful approach, and maintaining the relationship, you can ensure that your references will provide positive and meaningful support to your job application. A strong reference can be the deciding factor in securing that next great opportunity.

Are you ready to find your next opportunity? Call CornerStone Staffing today.

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