Compile Your Contacts
If you are having trouble deciding who you should ask take a minute before you begin the process and make a list of any contacts that you feel would be willing to help you.
Sometimes it can be difficult to remember who you have come in contact with over the years. Start by thinking about previous coworkers and managers. These will be your most credible sources because they have worked with you directly. If you still are short on references next remember any family friends or neighbors that you are close with. If you were/are involved in any volunteer or community programs there are bound to be contacts that you could pull from there.
Finally, if you are truly desperate and cannot think of anyone else to ask, you could ask a family member if they could speak about you, although you should try to avoid this. Employers wish to see professional relationships.
How to Ask for a Reference
Once you know who to ask you need to know how to approach them in order for them to actually give you a reference.
Begin by deciding which method you will use to ask for your reference. Most of the time a simple email is the easiest way for both parties to communicate. However, sometimes your contact may prefer a traditional "snail mail" letter. You should know your contact well enough to decide, which is the better choice.
Regardless of what medium you choose there are a few elements that should be included in your letter as you ask a potential reference for a recommendation:
- Start Off Personal: Don't immediately jump into asking them if they will speak about you. If at one point you had a relationship with your contact begin your letter by checking to see how they have been. This will be your first paragraph.
- Don't Just Ask: Your next paragraph is going to consist of why you are contacting them (reference letter.) But don't just ask, "Can you be a reference for me?" Explain what exactly you are doing and why it is so important that you have a reference from them. If you open up about your personal details during the job application process as well as your career prospects, people will be more inclined to help you.
- Be Grateful: After you explain why you would love for them to be your reference, end your final paragraph by thanking them for their time. Although they could be incredibly busy they are still willing to take time from their schedule to speak about you.
After you have sent your letter to your reference take the opportunity to send them a thank you letter after they have spoken for you. Appreciation in the professional community never goes unnoticed and you can keep up your image by consistently being polite.
Reference Request Letter Samples
If you are still unsure of all the aspects of asking for a recommendation, look over these reference request letter samples to be sure that you are following all guidelines properly.
Now that you know how to ask for a recommendation, you are on track to successfully completing the job application and interview process. If you have any other questions about these procedures, check out our job application tips and job interview help. After you get your recommendation, you can add this contact to your page using our free reference page creator.