Are you job hunting? An effective job hunting tip you should know as a job seeker is how to ask for a reference.

At some point in your job search, you will be required to provide a list of references. It might be when you are filing a job application form or during the interview phases, which is why it is mandatory to know how to ask for a reference.

Can’t figure out how to ask for a reference that can be reputable? We got you covered. In this guide, I’ll be showing you the steps to take on how to ask for a reference that will provide genuine and reputable recommendations about you.

How to Ask For a Reference

When you are job hunting, having at least three lists of references can make things a bit easier for you since including a list of references is one of the requirements for an interview.

But the problem you might face is not getting people to stand as your reference; it is about getting people who can genuinely be your references. Getting people that can genuinely stand as your reference can be achieved when you know the effective steps to take on how to ask for a reference.

Follow the below steps on how to ask for a reference to get the people that can genuinely stand in for you as your references.

#1: Choose the right people

Before talking about how to ask for a reference, you should know the right people to ask for references. Your reference lists will be irrelevant to hiring managers when they are not supposed to be regarded as your references.

When making use of professional references; your former employer, supervisors from your previous jobs or internships, coworkers or teammates with who you’ve worked together with that can talk about your accomplishments and key skills and abilities are the perfect options to choose from.

But in the case where you are new to the workforce and have a very limited professional network that can stand as your references, you can choose your professors, teaches, or people you know from volunteer activities.

In general, the more recent you work with someone that can be your potential reference, the better because he or she would have fresh memories about your key accomplishments, skills, and abilities to talk about.

#2: Ask them to be your reference

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After you have selected the people that you want to stand as your reference, the next step you need to take on how to ask for a reference is to ask them if they can be your reference.

Reach out to each person on your list of potential references. A meetup is the best option to go with, but when certain factors may not make it easy for you to meet with any of them, you can resort to a phone call or an email.

If it has been a long that you last spoke with the person or you last met the person, you should explain to the person the relationship you both have for confirmation and clarification before proceeding with your request.

Tell the person why you want them to stand as your reference. Do you think they have enough information about you that the hiring manager can find helpful? Or did you work with them a reasonable number of times and built a strong relationship with them? These are good factors to consider when considering how to ask for a reference.

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Tips – Ask someone to be your reference politely and without putting pressure on them to completely say yes. For example, you might say, ‘Would you feel comfortable standing as my reference and providing me with a positive recommendation?’ rather than, ‘Can you be my reference?’

#3: Give them some time

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This is an important step on how to ask for a reference that most people fail to keep. You need to give them time to respond to your request.

When you request a reference from someone, especially through mail or phone, he or she might not go into details about their schedules. Some might be busy and may end up going through your mail after some days, some may say “Alright, I’ll give it a thought and get back to you” when you give them a call, but due to their involvements, they may end up taking some time before getting back to you.

Give them some time (a week or a maximum of two weeks). Although you should pay close attention to their response; if they feel reluctant about the idea, you shouldn’t expect their feedback. Your aim here is to avoid any negative reference as much as possible.

#4: Provide all the details

Next on how to ask for a reference is providing your potential reference with all the information they need.

Your reference shouldn’t give vague information about you. Whatever they are saying either through a call with your potential employer or on their recommendation letter should be targeted. The best way you can help them provide a targeted response is by assisting them with your resume and the job description of the job you are applying for.

From the information, they should be able to tell your work history, and your skills and abilities relevant to the job you are applying for.

#5: Follow up

After the person has accepted to be your reference, you should first send him or her a thank-you note. The next step on how to ask for a reference to take will be to send the people a follow-up.

Once you have submitted your application to any job and included any of the references on the required reference list, you should notify them about it. And most importantly, when you finally get the job you should let them know about the good news.

How to Ask For a Reference Email Sample

When you are unable to meet the person you want to be your reference and cannot get to them on phone, the next option is to send the person an email.

Below is an email example to send the person you want to be your reference.

Subject line: Reference Request

Dear [Potential reference’s name],

I am currently applying for a job as an Account at [potential company name]and would be honored if I could list you as a reference. After working together for three years at [former company name], I believe you can testify to my skills and experience that will increase my chances of getting the job.

I have attached my resume and a description of the Accountant position here for your review. Please let me know if you need any more information. Thank you for considering my request, and I look forward to hearing from you.


[Your name]

[Your phone number]


References are important people that can help you win a job. Employers need them to confirm all that you told them about yourself and what you listed on your resume since there is no better way to learn about a person than learning about a person from someone who has experience working with the person.

That’s it on my guide on how to ask for a reference.

I’d love to hear from you

Are you job hunting and seeking a reference?

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