Examples

How to Ask for a Reference (The Best People to Ask, Examples, and Templates)

Contents

Your references no longer belong on a resume but they’re still important to hiring managers. All job seekers must be prepared to share a list of references to potential employers....

The best people to ask for a reference are your managers, supervisors, and employers. Other people you can ask include colleagues, clients, mentors, and professors. As for how to ask for a reference, the best way is to ask in-person. If that’s not an option, reach out by email. In either scenario, keep your message concise. For example, “I'm applying for [Job Title] positions and was hoping you'd be willing to be a reference. Your experience with my work on [Specific Project/Skill] would be invaluable. If you’re open to it, please let me know. Thank you for your understanding and support!”

Asking for a reference is ideal in a face-to-face setting. Make your request directly in a polite manner. For example, “Would you be willing to be a reference for me? I’m applying for [Job Title] roles and I’m confident that your insights on my skills would go a long way. I hope to have your support and appreciate your understanding.” 

You can also use the same message for an email, but you’re more likely to get a positive response in person. I’d only suggest shooting an email when you have no way to get face-to-face contact with the person you’d like to ask. 

If and when you do get a reference, have them on standby. No need to put them on your resume. All job seekers must be prepared to share a list of references to potential employers when presenting themselves in the job market. 

In this guide, we’ll go through how to ask for a reference including who the best people to ask are. 

What Is a Job Reference? 

Job references are the people who can provide evidence to hiring managers of a candidate’s professional skills

Your references are the professional connections you have that can speak positively about your abilities, achievements, and qualifications. 

If a company’s hiring manager or head of department were to ask for your references, it means they want to verify your qualifications. It can also mean that they want to get a sense of your work ethic from someone who knows you well and has managed or worked with you. 

Employers contact your references to gain insights into your capabilities and professional growth.

A few examples of potential references include former managers, coworkers, teachers, and more. 

How to Ask Someone to Be a Reference

To ask someone to be a reference (in-person or over email), show acknowledgement. Then, ask them politely if they would be willing to be your reference. Next, mention why you think they would be a valuable reference. Lastly, thank them for their time and consideration. 

Here’s an example (adjust accordingly based on the context of how you’re asking): 

Hi [Name],

It was great catching up with you recently (or I hope this email finds you well).

I'm currently applying for [Job Title] positions and was hoping you'd be willing to be a reference for me. Since you have firsthand experience working with me on [Specific Project], I’m confident that your input would be incredibly valuable. 

Would you be open to providing a reference? Your support would mean a lot. 

Thanks so much for your time and consideration.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Subject Line: Job Reference Request
Hi [Former Employer/Manager's Name],
It was great catching up with you recently (or I hope this email finds you well).
I'm currently applying for [Job Title] positions and was hoping you'd be willing to be a reference for me. Since you have firsthand experience working with me on [Specific Project], I’m confident that your input would be incredibly valuable.
Would you be open to providing a reference? Your support would mean a lot.
Thanks so much for your time and consideration.
Sincerely,
Charles Bloomberg
Example email asking for a reference

See below for more tips when asking someone to be a reference: 

  • Choose the right person: the right person is someone that can speak about your relevant skills and experience. For instance, don’t ask someone you’ve had a negative work relationship with, and don’t ask someone from a previous company you barely worked with. 
  • Personalize your message: in the email templates you’ll see below, most will say “hope you’re doing well” but the better way is to personalize your message. So for example, mention something you recently saw on their LinkedIn profile or bring up something you both have in common.  
  • Face-to-face conversations: the ideal way to ask for a reference is through a face-to-face conversation. Therefore, consider scheduling a call to discuss your job search rather than by email so that it feels more genuine.
  • Give context: inform your potential references about the job fields and industries you’re interested in so they know how they could help you in the best possible way.  
  • Be transparent: be straightforward when asking someone to be a reference so that they know what they’re getting themselves into. And if there’s anything you want them to highlight, let them know. 
  • Timing is key: ask people at the right time when requesting a reference, e.g. when they’re not busy or stressed.
  • Don’t forget to follow up: keep references updated on your job application and job search, and show gratitude for their support.

Who to Ask for a Reference (and Example Messages to Get Their Consent)

Here are the best people to ask for a reference: 

  • Managers, supervisors, and employers
  • Colleagues and peers
  • Clients
  • Teachers, coaches, professors
  • Mentors

These are also the same people you can ask for a letter of recommendation

Now, there are benefits to having these different types of references. There are also different ways to approach each of them, depending on whether they’re someone you knew in the past or someone you’re currently working with.

Side note: avoid asking for personal references such as friends and family members. Focus on listing professional references like a previous employer because it’s more credible and less biased, and they’ll have more insight into your professional experience and skills.

Managers, Supervisors, and Employers

Managers, supervisors, and employers are the best job references to have. Not only are they credible and have firsthand experience of your work performance, but their job title gives hiring managers more confidence in your application. 

However, ensure that you have a strong relationship at work together. This is one reason why it’s important to resign politely from previous roles. 

How to Ask Former Managers, Supervisors, and Employers to Be a Reference

  • Acknowledge your work relationship
  • Ask if they would be willing to be your job reference 
  • Briefly explain why you believe they would be a valuable reference 
  • Mention skills or experiences that relate to the new role (optional)
  • Remind them of any notable work achievements or contributions (optional)
  • Show your gratitude and appreciation

Email to Request Reference Example 

Subject Line: Job Reference Request
Hi [Former Employer/Manager's Name],
It’s been a while. I hope you and the team at [company] are doing well!
I am currently in the process of applying for a new job opportunity. I wanted to reach out to ask if you would be willing to serve as a reference.
The skills and experience I gained under your guidance have been super valuable for my professional growth. I genuinely value your opinion and I’m confident your endorsement would strengthen my application.
I would greatly appreciate your support and it would mean a lot to me. If not, no worries – please let me know.
Thank you for your time.
Best regards,
Charles Bloomberg

How to Ask Present Managers, Supervisors, and Employers to Be a Reference

  • Start the conversation with a positive tone by expressing your appreciation for how you grew under their guidance 
  • Inform them of the job you’re applying for and that you would appreciate having their support in serving as a reference 
  • Share your career aspirations as well as why you value their perspective and endorsement
  • Briefly remind them of how you made a positive difference to the company (optional)
  • Ask if they would be willing to be a job reference for you
  • Share any relevant information about the job description

Email to Request Reference Example 

Subject Line: Job Reference Request
Hi [Former Employer/Manager's Name],
I hope you’re doing well. I wanted to discuss an important matter regarding my career aspirations and professional development.
As I explore new opportunities aligned with my long-term goals, I wanted to ask if you would be willing to serve as a job reference. Given our working relationship and your firsthand knowledge of my skills, I am confident that your reference would be valuable.
I would greatly appreciate your support. Please let me know if you would be open to supporting me as a reference. I will gladly provide you with further details.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Best regards,
Charles Bloomberg

Colleagues and Peers 

Colleagues and peers that you’ve worked with can serve as good job references. They’ll have a balanced perspective on your skills and how you work. For instance, they can comment on your teamwork, communication, and attitude.

How to Ask Former Colleagues and Peers to Be a Reference 

  • Explain why you’re reaching out to them
  • Share any relevant information regarding the job description or the work you’ve done together (optional)
  • Ask if they would be willing to be a job reference 
  • Show your appreciation 

Email to Request Reference Example 

Subject Line: Job Reference Request
Hi [Former Colleague/Peer's Name],
It’s been a while, how are you doing? I hope this message finds you well.
I’m currently in the middle of a job application process and I was wondering if you would be open to being a reference? It would mean a lot to me. Since you have firsthand experience of my skills during our time at [company name], I’m confident that you would be a valuable job reference.
I would greatly appreciate your support. You’ve made a significant impact on my professional journey and personal growth that I won’t forget.
Please let me know. Thank you for your time and our past collaborations!
Best regards,
Charles Bloomberg

How to Ask Present Colleagues and Peers to Be a Reference 

  • Set a positive tone by showing your gratitude for the good work you’ve done together
  • Inform them of the job you’re applying for and that you would appreciate having their support in serving as a reference 
  • Share your career aspirations as well as why you value their endorsement
  • Briefly remind them of your skills and how you made a positive impact on the company (optional)
  • Ask if they would be willing to be your job reference 
  • Provide them with any necessary information 
  • Show your appreciation once again 

Email to Request Reference Example 

Subject Line: Job Reference Request
Hi [Former Colleague's Name],
I hope you’re doing well. I’m reaching out because I wanted to ask if you would be willing to serve as a reference as I pursue new career opportunities.
During our time working together at [Company/Organization], I've appreciated our collaboration and your expertise. I believe your insights into my work ethic, skills, and accomplishments would be valuable to potential employers.
To be specific, it would be helpful if you could highlight our collaboration on [specific project/task] and the [specific skills/accomplishments] we achieved together, as these align with the positions I'm pursuing.
Please let me know if you’re open to being a job reference for me. I would greatly appreciate your support. I understand if you’re unable to do so, and I genuinely appreciate your consideration.
Thank you for your time.
Best regards,
Charles Bloomberg

Clients

If you’ve been working as a freelancer and have lots of remote work experience, ask clients whom you had a positive working relationship with to be a reference. Having a client vouch for your skills highlights your customer service and communication skills as well as your technical expertise. 

Moreover, a client reference helps validate the work results and resume achievements listed. It also shows that you have strong business acumen.

How to Ask Former Clients to Be a Reference

  • Explain the purpose of your message
  • Ask for their consent to be a job reference
  • Provide any relevant details
  • Show that you’re grateful for their support

Email to Request Reference Example 

Subject Line: Job Reference Request
Hi [Client’s Name],
I hope you and the team are doing well. I recently came across one of your LinkedIn posts and noticed that [something about company news], which is awesome to see.
I wanted to reach out because I’m currently seeking new career opportunities in [industry/field] and I wanted to ask if you would be willing to serve as a reference for me. I greatly value the opportunity I had to work with you and I'm confident that your insights on my skills and abilities would strengthen my application.
Please let me know. I know your time is valuable, and I greatly appreciate you for taking the time to consider this request.
Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
Warm regards,
Charles Bloomberg

How to Ask Present Clients to Be a Reference

  • Explain the purpose of your message
  • Ask for their consent to be a job reference
  • Provide any relevant details
  • Show your appreciation

Email to Request Reference Example 

Subject Line: Job Reference Request
Hi [Client’s Name],
Firstly, thank you for choosing to work with me. The experience has been invaluable, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work with you.
I’m reaching out because I wanted to ask if you would be open to serving as a job reference for me. Our work together has been invaluable, and I’m confident that prospective employers would value your perspective on my skills and experience.
I know your time is valuable, and I appreciate your consideration. Please let me know if you’re willing to be a reference and I’ll gladly provide any further details.
Warm regards,
Charles Bloomberg

Teachers, Coaches, and Professors 

Your teachers or professors from school, college, and university can serve as good job references especially when applying for your first role. They can share specific examples of your academic accomplishments and personal growth. 

How to Ask Former Teachers, Coaches, and Professors to Be a Reference 

  • Briefly reintroduce yourself 
  • Show your appreciation and explain your request including why you value their endorsement
  • Ask for their consent 
  • Share any relevant job description details 
  • Thank them for their time and consideration 

Email to Request Reference Example 

Subject Line: Job Reference Request
Hi [Mr/Ms Name],
I hope this email finds you well. I was a student in your [subject] class at XYZ University.
I’m reaching out because I wanted to respectfully ask if you would be willing to serve as a reference in my job search. Currently, I’m seeking employment in [job position/industry] and I believe that you would be a valuable job reference.
Your support would mean a lot to me. I’m grateful for your years of teaching. Your guidance has helped me so much with my career aspirations.
Thank you for taking the time to consider my request. If you have any concerns or questions, please let me know.
I hope to hear from you soon.
Kind regards,
Charles Bloomberg

How to Ask Present Teachers, Coaches, and Professors to Be a Reference 

  • Approach in person during school hours or after class for a personal interaction
  • Start the conversation by first sharing your appreciation for their guidance and the impact they’ve had on your education 
  • Mention your career goals and share context about the types of jobs and industries you’re interested in 
  • Ask for their consent 
  • Show your understanding and appreciation for their support

Email to Request Reference Example 

Subject Line: Job Reference Request
Hi [Mr/Ms Name],
I hope you’re doing well. Firstly, I wanted to thank you for your guidance and teachings in [subject]. It’s made a big impact on my education and career aspirations.
I wanted to reach out to ask if you would be willing to serve as a job reference for my resume.
I’m actively seeking employment in [job position/industry] and I believe that you would be a valuable job reference. I am confident that your knowledge of my academic achievements, skills, and passion for the subject would be valuable to potential employers.
If you’re willing, I kindly request your support as a job reference.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. I’d also be happy to discuss this in person.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Best regards,
Charles Bloomberg

Mentors 

Mentors are those that share personal guidance and support in your professional journey. 

Teachers and professors primarily focus on your knowledge and skills within an academic setting. However, a mentor is someone that guides you through your career and therefore has more insight into your fields of interest and professional skills. 

How to Ask Former Mentors to Be a Reference 

  • Start with a warm greeting by reminding them of who you are and the nature of the mentorship
  • Acknowledge how they’ve made an impact on your personal growth
  • Explain your job search situation and career goals
  • Share why you would value having their support as a job reference
  • Ask for their consent
  • Share any relevant job description details (optional)
  • Thank them for their time and consideration 

Email to Request Reference Example 

Subject Line: Job Reference Request
Hi [Mentor's Name],
It’s been some time, I hope you’ve been doing well.
I wanted to express my gratitude for your mentorship during our time working together. Your guidance has already helped me so much in my career.
I’m currently exploring new job opportunities in [job position/industry]. With that in mind, I wanted to ask if you would be willing to serve as a job reference. It would mean a lot and I’m confident that your recommendation would be really helpful, given your knowledge of my skills and work ethic.
Please let me know if you’re open to serving as a job reference for me. I would greatly appreciate it.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Best regards,
Charles Bloomberg

How to Ask Present Mentors to Be a Reference

  • Set a positive tone to start the conversation by showing you’re grateful for their guidance
  • Explain your current job search situation alongside your career goals
  • Highlight how your mentor has made an impact on your professional growth 
  • Ask for their consent
  • Explain why you believe their recommendation would be valuable to potential employers
  • Provide further details about the job description (optional)
  • Thank them for their time and consideration 

Email to Request Reference Example 

Subject Line: Job Reference Request
Hi [Mentor's Name],
I hope you’re doing well. Thank you for your ongoing mentorship and guidance – it’s been instrumental in my personal growth.
Currently, I’m exploring new job opportunities in [job field/industry]. I wanted to reach out to ask if you would be willing to serve as a job reference for me. I’m confident that your recommendation would help me in my job search given your personal insights into my skills and work ethic.
Please let me know. I’d also be happy to discuss this in a meeting when you’re available.
Thank you for considering my request.
Best regards,
Charles Bloomberg

Summary

Here’s a recap on how to ask for a reference: 

  • Give a bit of context about your situation. 
  • Directly ask the person if they would be willing to be your reference. 
  • Mention why you’re confident that your potential referral would make for a good job reference. 
  • Show appreciation for their time and consideration. 
  • Sign off professionally using “Sincerely” or “Best regards.”

References are still an important part of the hiring process. When requesting one, be genuine. Let them know that you’re grateful for the work you’ve done together, and show them your appreciation. 

Good luck in your job search! And if you need any help writing a resume, try Rezi AI writer.

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Kels Styles

Kels is a career writer and editor with a background in entertainment, advertising, and startups. Kels aims to provide, reinforce, and organize authentic, digestible content that helps you take the next step in your career. 

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