Many HR professionals feel that References are not necessary in today’s recruiting environment. Reference names, or offers to provide references, are no longer considered required elements on resumes. However, some companies may want a reference, so it is always good to have one or two names available in case the company requires contact information for individuals with whom you have worked.
Usually, the candidate will initially contact the reference in person by phone, or face-to-face, to ask permission to use their name. You will be asking a specific person to do you a specific favor. You should never provide a name without permission, and you should always ask the same reference each time for each job.
Whether in person or by email, reach out to the former employer/colleague and ask them if they would be willing to provide a reference on your behalf. If they agree, you should follow up with a message of appreciation, and send a link to the job description, and the name and address to whom they should forward their letter. Providing them with 3-4 keywords that you would appreciate that they highlight, will help the individual know what to write about. Share the terminology so that they are familiar with the role you are seeking. List some of the core duties of the new job and align them to the work you have done before. This helps provide your reference with a script and remind them of some of your achievements. Make sure that when asking for a reference the individual knows which skills and experience you want highlighted; and again, be sure that they know where to forward their reference.
If you are requesting a reference with an email, language such as the following, might be appropriate:
I hope you are doing well. I am reaching out to ask if you would be willing to send a letter of recommendation for a job I’m applying for. I’m in the final round for the (XYZ) position at (Company), and apparently, a letter of reference will help with my candidacy.
If you agree, I will be happy to send you a link to the job description to give you a better understanding of the position for which I am applying.
Thanks so much, and I look forward to hearing from you in this regard.
If you have had direct working experience with the person you are contacting; reminding them of your collaboration may help them compose a great reference letter, such as:
I’m wondering if you would be comfortable writing a reference on my behalf regarding a position for which I am currently interviewing.
Since you and I worked together at (Company), in the (Department), you have firsthand knowledge of my skills and work ethic. A reference from you would greatly benefit my job search.
(You should attach a current resume or a link to the job description with your request so that the individual has a complete understanding of your background as well as the job to which you are applying.)
If you have any questions or would like to discuss this with me, please don’t hesitate to call.
Thank you so much for considering this request.
Asking your current boss is complicated, as you may not want them to know that you are looking for another job. If the hiring company asks for a referral from your current boss, explain that you are still working there and can’t make that request - which would jeopardize your career. Most companies will understand. If not, they aren’t the right job.
If you are requesting a Letter of Recommendation from a Professor, or professional in an academic environment, similar procedures apply. You should always have a good academic standing which will be reflected in your record. You may need to remind the professor of specific details about your academic history and job search, since professors often don’t remember all of their students. After receiving their permission, be sure that you have the correct contact information for the professor, which you will subsequently share with the hiring organization.
Requesting a Letter of Recommendation should be a simple, straightforward email stating your objective and asking for assistance. Once the individual agrees to write on your behalf, make sure that they have all the necessary information so that they can write a substantive letter the elevates your candidacy. And after they have submitted their Reference Letter, be sure to follow up with a thank you note or call.