As you transition into adulthood, there are growing responsibilities in all aspects of life, including professionally. Whether it's for school or for a job, the time will come when you will need to rely on the connections you have made over the years to serve as a reference. Depending on how you have cultivated your relationships, you will either approach this challenge with confidence or sheer terror. Hopefully these following tips will leave you feeling more equipped when asking for a reference.
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First off, we all can probably agree that having to do something that we were not prepared for can be uncomfortable. That’s why you should give someone at least three weeks notice when asking for a reference. They have a life to live and usually are not going to start writing your reference the minute you ask, if it has to be a written letter reference.
In addition to giving a person plenty of notice, make sure to give them as much information as possible. They may know you as a person, but it helps to also let them know the type of position you are going for. The same goes for applying to school. This way they can tie your skills and their experiences with you to your potential job or school. You do not want to leave them lost and confused about what kind of reference they should be writing, what tone it should be in, and what direction that should take with it. With ample insight from you, they’ll be able to tailor it to be best fitted for what you are looking for.
You should aim to have a personal conversation with your reference, whether it’s face-to-face or over the phone. Even if you are communicating via email make it personal. This way it will not seem as though you are popping up only because you need something. You want to set a lasting impression in the event that you will need their help again in the future.
Who to ask is always the hardest question. You want to ask someone who can speak to your professional and or academic abilities, depending on the application, and has witnessed you in a working environment. Consider someone that you have a positive relationship with. Some examples include a professor, colleague, supervisor, mentor, advisor, or former boss.
Ask your reference for a referral through a formal letter. Start with an introduction that includes a basis for your email and end by thanking them in advance. Here’s an example:
Dear Professor Ryan,
I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to you today to tell you about an exciting job opportunity I am applying for. The potential position is to be a Program Coordinator for Glow Inc. They are the lead in glowstick manufacturing, an industry that I have been eager to get into.
In order to continue with the interview process I need two reference letters. As a valued professor and mentor of mine, I would really appreciate if you could serve as one of my references. Please let me know if this is a possibility.
Thank you in advance for your help.
Lastly, follow up with your reference. Fill them in on the process and let them know the results of your interviewing process. Whether or not you land the position, thank them for their contribution. Let them know that you hope to include them in your future plans. It’s always good to have reliable professionals in your corner, so looping back with your reference with is always a good idea.
As we get deeper into the 21st century, we are growing more and more out of touch in our personal and professional relationships. We are forgetting what it means to network and sustain ties that aid us in the working world. That’s why it is important to keep these tips in mind when it comes to asking someone for a reference. It makes all the difference between a mediocre and a noteworthy referral.
Jaimy aspires to be a relative voice to other young adults like her. As a Haitian-American first-generation college graduate, she knows that the complicated journey she's been on to get to where she's at now is the same story for many others. She challenges the status quo by going after what she truly believes in which is having the opportunity to be creative while unapologetically pursuing your passion and not conforming to what everyone else deems is right for you. Jaimy loves to read, stay active, and spend time with the people she loves.