References are important. They show the potential employer that other people can back up what you are saying in the interview – that you are reliable, trustworthy and the best candidate for the job.
However, taking the leap and asking someone to be your reference can be a little scary. Elizabeth posted on our blog:
“For some reason, I'm really shy about asking people for references. Does anyone have any tips on how to overcome this fear?”
Great question, Elizabeth!
There are two main ways to ask someone to be a reference in your job search – through email and in person.
This way eliminates the awkward face-to-face conversation; but, it is also harder to get a solid answer and/or feedback. Keep your email short and sweet and remind them of all the good reasons you would make an ideal candidate. For example:
Dear Mr. Smith,
I am sending you this email in hopes you will be a reference for me during my job search.
Throughout my time working with you, I was able to grow professionally and feel like this experience has really helped me become an ideal employee. I know you would be able to attest to my reliability and willingness to learn.
Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, please call me at (123) 123-1234. I look forward to hearing from you.
While asking in person may make you a little nervous, it is a great way to ask any personal references or previous coworkers. To avoid the nerves, practice what you are going to say before hand. Like in the email, keep it simple and get straight to the point. Simply say that you are currently searching for a new job and would appreciate it if they would be a reference for you. Flattery can take you far, so it may be smart to sprinkle in how much you’ve learned from them and why they would make a great reference for you.
If you know your job is coming to an end, stand out by working a little bit harder and ask for a reference before you go. This will help you avoid the scramble to gather your references before your next interview.
Your best bet to get that perfect reference is to be an ideal employee/volunteer/student. We’ll do a blog post on who to ask as a reference soon, but make sure you ask people who can give examples of why you would be a great employee. Stay away from friends and keep it professional.
If you are unsure if you can use someone as a reference, ask below and we will let you know!