Compile Your Contacts
If you are having trouble deciding whom 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 is not very easy to remember who you have been in contact with over the years. Start by thinking about your 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 identify any family friends or neighbors with whom you are close. If you were or are involved in volunteer or community programs, there are bound to be people there that you could ask.
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. However, it would help if you tried to avoid this. Employers prefer to see professional relationships.
How to Ask for a Reference
Once you know whom to ask, you need to know how to approach them, so they give you the 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, your contact may prefer a traditional postal mail letter. You should know your contact well enough to decide which format is the best choice.
Regardless of which 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 By Being 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 asking how they have been. Asking about their well being will be your first paragraph.
- Don't Just Ask: Your next paragraph is going to consist of why you are contacting them (a reference letter.) However, don't ask, "Can you be a reference for me?" Explain what it is you are doing and why it is essential that you have a recommendation from them. If you open up about your circumstances, 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 may still be willing to take time out of their schedule to speak about you.
After you have sent your letter to your reference, please 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 maintain your professional image by consistently being polite.
Now that you know how to ask for a recommendation, you are on track to complete the job application and interview process successfully. If you have any other questions about these procedures, check out our job application tips and job interview help pages. After you get your recommendation, you can add this contact to your page using our Free Reference Page Creator.