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You’re probably thinking, “is it truly necessary to ask someone to be a reference?” “Hiring managers don’t actually have time to call ALL of the references that applicants submit.” Well, you’re probably right about that, but it doesn’t mean that they won’t call yours. And it won’t go over well for you if your references aren’t prepared to receive a call.

Asking someone to be a reference is a professional courtesy to the person you’re using as a reference, the hiring manager, and ultimately you.

Start ASAP

Honestly, you should have started this process yesterday. In some cases, the hiring process can go quickly and you will always need professional references to validate your experience, skills, and professionalism. Start thinking of people from your career that can recommend you.

Choose Carefully

For every application, you’re asked to provide at least 3 references which means you will need to choose at least 3 people to ask to be a reference. You don’t have to choose 3 different people for every application, but you should be careful about applying to hundreds of jobs and including those 3 people to every one of those applications, especially if they are all different types of positions. Pick references that can defend experiences or skills that are specific to the position you are applying to. For instance, if you’re applying to a job as a business development manager that requires 3+ years of related experience, choose someone that worked with you while you were utilizing and/or actively using those particular skills.

Nice & Easy

Once you have a wish list of people you’d like to ask, start calling. We recommend calling because this is personal and you want to maintain that relationship with your professional contacts. Shooting a text over to your old coworker you haven’t talked to in years isn’t going to help you. If you must, send a personalized email and ask politely if they would be able to be a reference for you.

Once they say yes, send over some details about the position you are applying for, how you qualify, and any information about your experience and skills to refresh their memory about you. This will make it easier on them when a hiring manager calls to talk about you.

Follow Up

The point of this step is to make sure these contacts want to do this again and that they know they are appreciated for helping you. Reach out to your references once you hear any sort of news from the hiring manager. Whether it’s good or bad news, you want to thank your references for their time. It’s just a cherry on top to maintain a positive relationship with your references.


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