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How to Ask an Employer for a Reference: 5 Templates & Tips
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How to Ask an Employer for a Reference: 5 Templates & Tips

Apr 15, 2024
6 min read
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In today’s competitive job market, references can be the difference between getting an interview and getting your dream job. A strong reference can help you stand out from other candidates and give you a competitive edge.

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When you are asked to provide references, it is important to choose people who know you well and can speak to your skills, abilities, and work ethics. You should also ensure that your references are willing to provide a positive reference for you to your potential employer.

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If you are not sure who to ask for references, here are a few tips:

  • Think about your previous employers. Who were your direct supervisors? Who were the people you worked with closely? These are the people who are most likely to be able to speak to your work experience and performance.
  • Consider your colleagues. Did you work on any projects with other people? Did you have any mentors or coaches? These people can also provide valuable insights into your work and abilities.
  • Ask your friends and family. If you don’t have any professional references, you can ask your friends and family for a personal reference. They may be able to provide references that speak to your character and personality.

Once you have chosen your references, it is important to ask them for permission before you list them on your resume or application. You should also give them a heads-up that you may be contacting them soon to ask for a reference.

When you ask for a reference, be sure to be polite and professional. Thank the person for their time and let them know that you appreciate their consideration. You should also provide them with the necessary information, such as the name of the company you are applying to, the position you are interested in, and the contact information for the hiring manager.

Start with following these tips, you can increase your chances of getting a strong reference that will help you land your dream job.

7 tips to consider when asking for a reference

When asking for a reference request, there are several important factors you should consider to ensure a successful and professional process:

  • Choose the Right Person: When deciding whom to ask for a reference, think about who can most effectively endorse your skills, achievements, and work ethic. This person could be a current or former employer, a former boss, a colleague, or even a professor or coach. It’s important that they know your work well and can speak convincingly about your strengths.
  • Be Specific: Provide specific details about the job you’re applying for to help the reference writer tailor their recommendation to the role. Mention the job title, company name, job description, and key skills or experiences the employer is looking for. Also, guide them with your digital portfolio to highlight the specific projects or tasks where you excelled.
  • Request Politely: Make your request respectfully and politely, expressing that you understand if they can’t fulfill the request for any reason. Remember, writing a reference can be a significant commitment of time and energy.
  • Provide an Out: Understand that not everyone will feel comfortable providing a reference. They might not have the time, or they may not feel they know your work well enough to provide a strong recommendation. In your request, indicate that you understand if they’re unable to provide the reference.
  • Follow-up: If you don’t hear back within a week or so, it’s acceptable to send a polite follow-up email. If they agree to provide the reference, remember to thank them.
  • Stay in Touch: Keep your references informed throughout your job search process. Let them know when you’ve accepted a new job offer and express gratitude for their help with a thank you note.

By keeping these considerations in mind, you can navigate the process of asking for a reference with professionalism and respect, ensuring you get the strongest endorsements possible.

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5 Effective Email Templates to Ask for A Reference/Recommendation

Here are 5 effective reference email templates you can use to ask your colleagues and employers, their permission to give you a positive recommendation for your future endeavors.

1. Asking a Current Employer for a Reference

In some cases, you might find yourself applying for a new role while still employed. It’s crucial to approach this situation delicately to maintain professionalism.


This “employee reference example” emphasizes respect for your current employer and highlights your professional approach to career growth.

2. Asking a Past Employer for a Reference

It’s common to ask a previous employer/ former manager for a reference, particularly if you had a positive relationship and left the company on good terms.


This “employee reference template” maintains a respectful tone, recognizing the value of your former employer’s endorsement while providing them with context about your job search.

You may also like:  Your Guide to Nailing a Customer Service Job Interview

3. Asking for a LinkedIn Recommendation

A LinkedIn recommendation can boost your profile visibility and credibility to prospective employers or clients on the platform.

4. Asking a Colleague for a Reference

At times, a reference from a peer can be just as valuable as one from a manager or supervisor, particularly if you’ve collaborated closely on projects.


This “employee reference example” underlines the importance of peer opinions in building a holistic view of your capabilities, team spirit, and work ethic.

You may also like:119 Email Phrases to Help You Get the Desired Response

5. Asking for a Character Reference

Sometimes, you may need a character reference – this can come from a colleague, friend, or mentor who knows you well enough to vouch for your personality and character.


This “employee reference template” acknowledges the value of personal traits and characteristics in professional settings. A character reference can provide a comprehensive view to the recruiter, of an individual beyond their professional accomplishments.

Nurture your professional relationships

Securing a strong reference is not merely about asking; it’s a process that encompasses the way you build and maintain your professional relationships, the accomplishments you accumulate, and the respectful and appreciative manner in which you approach the request. A robust professional network is a cornerstone of receiving strong endorsements, so ensure you nurture these relationships, even after you’ve transitioned from a role or organization. 

Always remember that providing a reference is a favor, so if someone is uncomfortable or unable to do so, respect their decision. Express your gratitude to the person who has taken out time to endorse you, irrespective of whether you secure the job or not. After receiving the reference, don’t lose touch with your referee; instead, keep them updated about your job hunt progress and again, appreciate their support in your career progression. By adhering to these guidelines, you’re more likely to secure meaningful references that will help open doors to new opportunities.

Keep using these recommendation templates and customize them according to your needs. 

Speaking of templates, Hiver lets you create customized emails and save them as templates with just one click. You can organize different email templates into folders and easily use them. 

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Shobhana has been recognized as a 'Top Customer Support Voice' by LinkedIn. Her expertise lies in creating well-researched and actionable content for Customer Experience (CX) professionals. As an active member of popular CX communities such as CX Accelerator and Support Driven, she helps professionals evaluate tools for their support team and keeps a keen eye on emerging industry trends.

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