How to Ask for a Reference by Email with a Sample

In this article, you’ll learn how to ask someone to be your reference with samples and how to choose references.

At some stage of the job interview, your interviewer will probably ask you for email references. References are extremely important because they give a potential employer insight into the kind of employee you would be.

Your success at your previous job and your ability to impress your colleagues is a clear pointer to how well you’ll perform in the future. Your future employer would most likely ask your references for their insight. Hence, this isn’t something you can avoid.

These references-along with professional background checks are important to fact-check your interview answers or your CV. This is why you must choose references that would speak highly of your skills, experience and general qualities. It’s also important that these references know beforehand that you’re applying for jobs and that they’re your references, so they’re not caught off-guard if your potential employer eventually reaches out.

In this article, you’ll learn how to ask someone to be your reference with samples and how to choose references.

How you ask someone to be your reference and who you ask is important. So, ensure you have strong helpful references. Further down this article, we’ll share examples of email references, how to ask for email references and some vital tips on who to write these references.

Who Should You Ask for a Reference Email

Before asking anyone to be your reference, you need to think carefully. You’d want to make sure it’s someone you trust and can speak well to your abilities as an employee or a co-worker.

Previous employers and supervisors often make the most convincing references, sometimes, it’s advisable to choose a different kind of reference as this also plays a huge role in the kind of job you’re hoping to get.

As a job seeker, it comes naturally to you for your reference options to be your former managers or supervisors. You could also consider going a different route like choosing a personal reference, a business acquaintance, customers or vendors are also great choices for references.

Your peers, colleagues and clients are also great examples of references, as they can give personal information on what it’s like working with you. If you had a doubtful relationship with your previous employer or supervisor but had a great relationship with your co-workers, it’s more logical to choose your co-workers as your references.

NB: If you’re looking for your first job or transitioning between careers, you should consider using a personal or character reference instead of an official employment reference. 

While you should use a professional reference as much as you can, a character reference from a reputable member of the society or a mentor holds just as much water.

How to Write an Email Requesting a Reference

Your subject should be clear: When requesting a reference email, the subject line of your email should be straight to the point and be informative. For a typical subject line reference email, beginning the subject with your name and “Reference Request” is ideal.

When the recipient of your email can tell exactly what the email is about from the subject, they’re more likely to read and respond.

Seven (7) Ways to Write Professional Email Subject Lines – With Samples

Express yourself properly: It’s extremely important for the sake of your application that your reference says positive things about you. Hence, when phrasing your reference email, don’t just ask, “Can you please be a reference for me?” Instead, ask them if they wouldn’t mind providing you with a decent reference.

Don’t foist your request for an email reference on anyone, always allow them to decline. You can do this by asking them, “are you comfortable with the idea of being a reference for me?” or, “I understand if this is not a good time, please let me know when is best.” If you sense any hesitation from them, it usually means they’re not interested and you should rescind your request and move on to the next person on your list.  

Offer materials they might need to provide you with an email reference

If you’re seeking an email reference from someone you’ve not contacted in a while, you’d need to remind them of things you’ve worked on together and provide them with the information they would need to provide you with a good email reference. An easy way to do this is by providing your current resume and/or a recent description of your skills and experiences.

It would be easier for your reference provider to provide a compelling reference if you give them the right materials.

If you’re applying for a specific role, make sure to send them a copy of the job announcement. This helps them to focus on your most relevant experience and credentials for the position.

After providing your potential employers with a list of references, send an email to each of your references letting them know the company would be reaching out, if you know the details of what the company would be asking, provide your reference givers with an overview of this information and what you’d like them to say in the email reference.

Add your contact information: When sending an email reference request, make sure to include your email address and phone number in your message. This way, it’s easier for the person providing the email reference to respond and follow up if they have any questions.

Remember to thank them: Complete your request by thanking the reference provider for their help and consideration.

Do not forget to follow up with a thank you message after you get the email reference as well.

Sample of a Reference Email

Subject Line: Reference Request - John Doe

Dear Mr. Jameson,

I trust you are well, and that everything is running smoothly at XYZ.
I am writing to inquire if you would be comfortable with providing a good letter of reference for me? If you could testify to my qualifications for employment and the skills I gained working at XYZ, I would be very grateful.

I am currently seeking a new position as an XXX XXXXX. I look forward to continuing the work I have done in XXX XXXX while taking on a supervisory role. A positive reference from you would strengthen my chances.
Kindly let me know if you have questions, or if you need further information to assist you in writing your reference. A copy of my resume has been attached to assist you further. Please reach out to me if you need more information.

Thank you for your time, I am looking forward to hearing from you.
John Doe 
Jim Blessed
Jim Blessed
Jim Blessed is a certified content specialist. He's a versatile and accomplished writer with diverse knowledge in creating unique content for different niches. When he's not clicking away at his keyboard or learning new things, he's listening to or reading other peoples' thoughts.

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