17 answers
Asked Viewed 223 times Translate

How to ask for references?

I've been applying for volunteer and job positions for the summers and ALL of them require references and past employers. Although I have a strong list of teachers and a few past employers, my list is pretty short. (All my positions were long term, I have more quality than quantity) I feel bad to keep asking and updating them about using them as a reference. What should I do?! #job #references #resume #application


+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you
18
100% of 17 Pros

17 answers


Updated Translate

John’s Answer

Kelly, In the past, employers typically waited to ask job applicants for references until they were serious contenders for a job. Occasionally, however, companies will request that applicants provide a list of references when they initially apply for a job.

WHO, WHAT & WHEN REFERENCE GUIDELINES

WHO – Your list of references should include professional connections who can attest to your qualifications for the job. Your references don't have to be people who work at your current job; in fact, you shouldn't use references from your current manager or co-workers if the company isn't aware you are job searching. The last thing you want is for your boss to learn from one of their competitors that you have approached them regarding a new job. Instead, you could use colleagues from previous jobs, professors, clients or vendors, people you have worked with if you have volunteered or belonged to a church or sports group, or a former employer (if you’re sure that they would provide you with a positive reference). You might also use LinkedIn connections whom you feel you have a good rapport with.

PERMISSION – It's always a good idea to ask for permission to use someone as a reference in advance, before you give out their name. This will allow you to determine, by their response, whether they feel like they could provide a positive reference. If they (or you) have any doubt as to the strength of the reference they might provide, look for someone else who would be more willing to vouch for you.

Verify that you have the correct contact information and ask the reference how they want to be contacted – phone, email, etc. Also, ask if there are specific times during the day when they would be willing to be contacted, should they allow you to provide their phone number. If possible, give them a list of the jobs you have applied for so that they are aware ahead of time of which employers might be contacting them. Finally, ask if you can send them a current resume or any other information they might need in order to be prepared to provide a glowing description of your work and of your character.

Finally, remember that asking for references is a key part of professional networking and that the favor goes both ways. If you ask someone for a reference, offer to stand ready to provide them with one should they ever need it. Always write a formal thank-you note or email both after they’ve agreed to serve as your reference and after you’ve landed a job. People like to know that their efforts have contributed to another’s success.

Hope this was Helpful Kelly


John recommends the following next steps:

DO NOT list your references directly on your resume.
Prepare a separate sheet of paper for your references.
DO NOT offer your references in an interview, wait until you are asked for them.
Keep your references informed to what job you have interviewed for and who may call.

Your Welcome Kelly, It Was My Pleasure. Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears. John Frick

Thank you Stephen for your continued support. If you want to touch the past, touch a rock. If you want to touch the present, touch a flower. If you want to touch the future, touch a life. John Frick

7
100% of 5 Pros
100% of 1 Students
Updated Translate

Daniel’s Answer

People are generally more than happy to give references. It feels good to be able to help someone else out when they're early in their career. So don't feel bad about asking! Chances are you'll have an opportunity to help out others in a similar way at some point in your career!

This said, there are a few things to consider when choosing who to ask:

1. Have you interacted with this person fairly extensively in the past?
2. Did you work on a project with them that went particularly well or saw you grow as an individual or teammate?
3. Does this person have expertise that's relevant to the job you're applying to?
4. Do they know anybody who works at the company you're applying to, or even better, do they work at that company?

Once you've identified the people you want to ask for a reference, reach out! In the past, I've used email or LinkedIn for this (provided I'm already connected with them). Again, it's ideal to ask people you have an ongoing relationship with so they don't feel like you're connecting with them solely for the purpose of asking for a reference. This is yet another reason why it's so important to get to know people in the area you want to work, the more people you know the easier it is to find great people to ask for a reference.

Good luck!

3
100% of 2 Pros
100% of 1 Students
Updated Translate

Nidhi’s Answer

I'm glad you asked this question as I've faced similar situations when I started out with job hunt. Having recommendations and esp. "positive" ones are extremely important for your career growth. You need to make sure the quality of recommendation is as good and relevant to your new job. Having multiple recommendations is nice to have but it only increases complexity. People have limited time and the more prepared you are, the higher are your chances to succeed long-term. Here are some suggestions -

Nidhi recommends the following next steps:

Pick 2-4 recommenders. Have their latest email, phone number and other contact information ready.
For each recommender, create a draft of recommendation they would give for you. You can start by listing things you did and the impact of your work that the recommender would have appreciated or noticed.
Write a sample recommendation letter for each one of them and send it to all. The more personalized you make it, the better! Note that this is just a "draft" that will help them get started. The good news is your recommenders can use it as a reference and can customize the letter on need basis. Remember everyone is busy and more preparation you do up-front the higher are the chances you'll get things done on time.
You can also request a recommendation on Linked-In as that will stay with you always and will be publicly available. Whenever you complete a project, ask for recommendations.
Lastly, its always a good idea to return a favor. You can always offer to provide a recommendation in return. Keeping communication open with your previous colleagues or teachers is key to success. You never know who might recommend you for a future position.

Thank You Nidhi. “Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.” – Erma Bombeck John Frick

3
100% of 2 Pros
100% of 1 Students
Updated Translate

Ray’s Answer

Great question Kelly. First of all, know that everyone starts out in this same position - the only way someone can develop a large number of references is by first building a small number and growing from there.

Having quality over quantity is actually a great thing, and may help you more than hurt you. Realistically, any potential employer won't have time to make 5-10 calls for a new hire, they're really just looking to get one or two people who can credibly (and hopefully enthusiastically) vouch for you capabilities.

If you're worried about asking too much of your reference network, it might be good to be upfront with them and ask whether they'd be willing to reference for you over the forseeable future (or some period of time you & they feel comfortable with), rather than asking them each & every time you need to apply somewhere. Alternatively, you could also think about asking them for a written reference (hopefully with their contact info included in the document), which they'd only need to create once & you could then submit to any potential employer who might want or need it. And then, if the employer wants to verify from there, they could then contact your reference as a second step.

And just one additional follow-up idea here: if these references could be saved to a public place online, that could help you & them even further. For example, if they're able to endorse you via LinkedIn, that'd be a publicly visible & hopefully one-time way for them to vouch for your work and have it available for potential employers.

1
100% of 1 Students
Updated Translate

Pam’s Answer

Hi Kelly,

It is okay to ask for written recommendations from teachers and employers. They will be happy to write one for you. If they do, keep the original and only give copies to employers who ask for them.

I still have written letters of recommendation from many years ago. They are not relevant if I were searching for a job today, but they are a nice reminder of people I have worked with and experiences I have gained.

Pam recommends the following next steps:

Don't give references to an employer unless you are asked.

1
100% of 1 Pros
Updated Translate

Richard’s Answer

You could ask for blanket permission to list their emails on all applications! Many people who require references will not contact them until you're in the final stages, as mentioned by other members.

0
Updated Translate

Katrina’s Answer

You've gotten excellent advice here! I would add that you want to keep in touch with your references over time - continue the relationship -send an email or text or connect on LinkedIn and stay connected. This will help when you need to call on them again for a reference. A written reference is nice (ensure it's on letterhead and is signed) but often hiring managers or people asking for references may still want to talk to someone live. Keep up the relationships :)

0
Updated Translate

Rebecca’s Answer

Hi Kelly,

A written reference can be used for multiple jobs opportunities, so I would recommend that path.

You can also help your references out by providing them with a template or a some highlights of what you want to ensure they mention.



0
Updated Translate

Angel’s Answer

Hello,

Getting a reliable reference can make or break an opportunity. I would suggest, if you have not, to get involved with volunteer events. Go above and beyond to make a difference in an area you have passion in. For me, I coach youth football. I love every minute of it. I have numerous refernces from this as a result. It seems like it is time to get some new sources.

My mentors always tell me, "a good reference does not fall like apples. You must do the work and plant the apple tree." It will be worthwhile to follow this path.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Best of luck!

0
Updated Translate

Steven’s Answer

Hi Kelly,

I would encourage you not be hesitant about reusing references. It's a necessary part of the employment process and the feedback they offer is important. Typically it doesn't take much time for them to provide their feedback so I wouldn't worry much about the time spend on their end.

I wish you the best of luck on your job search!

Steve

0
Updated Translate

Brian’s Answer

Best to stay in whatever network you have: friends, teachers, summer jobs, parents of friends, etc. As long as they are positive comments about you and your your jobs ambitions you should be fine. The overall "Quality" of what your reference says about you is most important.

0
Updated Translate

Steven’s Answer

Hi Kelly,

I would encourage you not be hesitant about reusing references. It's a necessary part of the employment process and the feedback they offer is important. Typically it doesn't take much time for them to provide their feedback so I wouldn't worry much about the time spend on their end.

I wish you the best of luck on your job search!

Steve

0
Updated Translate

Blake’s Answer

Hey Kelly,

I've been allowed to use my teachers for references in times past. Will they not allow this?

Thanks,
Blake

I've been allowed to use them as references but it gets tedious asking them for all my applications. Kelly W.

0
Updated Translate

John’s Answer

Ask your references if it's OK to use them wherever you apply. That way you don't have to ask each reference each time. You might want to keep them updated on where you've listed them as references so they're not surprised if that company contacts them.

0
Updated Translate

Devin’s Answer

This is one of those areas where a lot people feel uncomfortable. Asking for letters of reference can feel like asking for favors without anything in return. But just understand that this is a normal thing in professional environments and your teachers and supervisors will likely be happy to write you a reference. Be ready to pay it forward in a decade or two when you are in the position to write letters of reference for your peers. Good luck!

0
Updated Translate

Alison’s Answer

Ray is right, getting written references is a great idea. Both your employers and your teachers will be familiar with doing reference letters and can probably get them to you easily. When you’re in school or fresh out of school, everyone realizes that you may not have extensive work experience yet.

A lot of job applications will just ask for the name and contact information for your references, though, instead of letters. And, you won’t know when or which ones will get a call about you. In that case, just letting your potential references know that you’re applying for a few jobs, and asking that person if it’s alright for you to include them in your list of references, is fine.

0
Updated Translate

Marni’s Answer

One suggestion I could offer is to write up letters of recommendation from your past teachers and employers and ask them to edit and/or approve them. Then you could offer the letters of recommendation to prospective employers, and you wouldn't have to go back to the same individuals again and again. By drafting the letters for your contacts, you eliminate some of the work for them.

0