During the job search process, you should be prepared to provide a list of references. If you want to know how to ask someone to be a reference for you, you have come to the right place. Asking for a referral in the right way will ensure that you are a credible and reputable candidate.

After all, having a person attest to your skills and accomplishments is a great way to build on your professional experience. It could be what sets you apart from other job seekers.

But there are a few things you need to do before submitting the list.

This article will cover:

  • What is a referral;
  • When to include them directly on a resume;
  • Who to ask for references;
  • How to better formulate your request;
  • Email templates for referral requests;
  • How to request a referral on LinkedIn.

What is a reference on a resume?

First of all, references are generally not included on a resume. Instead, you must include them in a separate document that you submit along with your CV. This is also why you won’t normally find a reference section in most resume samples.

So what is the purpose of having referrals?

Letting a third party vouch for you and providing your future employer with more information about your professional experience is a great way to seal your (good) reputation. References will let your future boss know how you performed in your previous occupations or during your studies.

And when should you include references directly on your resume?

Preferably make a separate list for your references. You should only include references directly on a resume in some cases:

  • If your reference is someone known in the industry;
  • You are a recent graduate with no work experience;
  • You work as a freelancer;
  • The job listing prompts you to do so.

If you decide to include a reference section directly on your CV, you can do it in an elegant way with Kickresume’s CV templates. Learn more about including references on a resume.

But don’t forget that you references have to agree your contact information is shared in the first place. Hiring managers can contact their references and ask them about their ethics, skills, and professional experience.

Who to ask for references?

Consider the people you’ve worked with for and work with. Think of people who know you well, who can speak highly of you, and people who will answer for you. The person must be articulate and in a respectable position. Also, make sure the most recent and relevant references are listed first.

Here are five types of people to ask for resume references:

  • Teacher / teacher: If you are a student or a recent graduate, the best option is to select a university professor who can speak highly of your academic performance and participation in (extra) curricular activities.
  • Previous employer / former boss: If you are a seasoned professional, selecting your previous boss as a reference is common practice. They generally make the most compelling recommendations.
  • Current employer: A current boss is the most relevant and recent reference you can provide. Just make sure you only ask them if you are on good terms with them.
  • Former clients / clients: If you don’t have an employer per se, let your clients brag for you. They know best what it’s like to work with you on a day-to-day basis.
  • Current Colleagues / Co-workers: If you disagree with your boss, but your coworkers love working with you, be sure to select them. It is a recent and relevant reference.

Need to ask someone to be a referral first? YES! Including someone as a reference without asking them first is the worst thing you can do. Make sure to always inform the references that will be contacted, otherwise it may backfire.

What should you do if a person is reluctant to be your reference? Definitely don’t push them. Make sure you have a backup if someone refuses. It is better to have three references On your list, therefore, ideally choose around five people to ask.how to ask someone to be a referral

How to ask someone to be a reference?

You have now decided who you want your references to be. Now is the time to ask them if they agree. So how do you ask someone to be your reference? Through a meeting, a call, or an email?

It is always best to ask your potential referral in person. However, sometimes that gets quite tricky. Now more than ever because of the pandemic. Therefore, try calling the person if you cannot arrange a meeting. If calling is not an option either, say because your employer is very busy, go for an email.

What should I say in an email requesting a referral?

  • Start with a greeting and a joke.. It is better to smoothly transition your referral request, rather than start with it right away, as it may seem rude.
  • Reminder of who you are (if necessary). It is helpful to refresh your memory by saying briefly who you are and what your professional relationship was.
  • Explain where you are heading in your career. This lets them know that you are applying for a new job.
  • State your request politely. You have to ask them in a way that doesn’t pressure them to say yes, and allows them to graciously refuse. (e.g. “Would you feel comfortable serving as a reference on my next job search?”)
  • Include details about the job. Your reference is likely to be a busy person, so be sure to save them the time of searching for the job description themselves. This allows your reference to prepare to give a relevant recommendation. Be brief.
  • Attach your resume. It is important that your reference has all the updated information about your work history, because it allows you to make an appropriate and relevant recommendation.
  • Contact information. First, give them your contact information in case they want to call you and ask you questions. Second, make sure the reference contact information is correct (including titles).
  • Thank them. End your email by thanking them for their consideration. If they agree to provide you with a referral, please send them a follow-up email expressing your gratitude as well.

Be sure to include a professional subject line for the referral request: Your name – Referral request

Examples of referral emails

When you gather all of the above information, you will have written a professional and courteous email. We have done the work for you.

Here are three examples of referral emails you can use: to a former employer, a teacher, or a client. Feel free to download and edit them according to your needs.

How to ask your previous employer / boss for a reference (email example)

How to ask for a referral from the previous employer (example email)


How to ask your teacher / teacher for a reference (email example)


How to ask your old customer for a referral (email example)

How to ask the customer for a reference (email example)


How to ask for a referral on LinkedIn?

If you really like networking on LinkedIn (it’s good for you by the way), asking for a referral is very convenient and simple. The benefits of an active LinkedIn profile are well known, it’s an easy way to present your skills, showcase your work, and of course, make business-oriented contacts.

Follow these 7 steps to ask for a referral on LinkedIn:

  1. Log into your LinkedIn profile;
  2. Type the person’s name in the search bar;
  3. Open your profile and click “Moreā€¦” button, which is right next to the Message button;
  4. Please select “Request a recommendation” from the drop-down list;
  5. Select the type of “Relationship” Y “Your position at that time” in the drop-down list, then click Next;
  6. Write a short personalized message asking the person to recommend you. You can also use one of our sample emails;
  7. Click on “Send”.

What comes after asking someone to be your reference?

If you’ve successfully sent an email, you’ve done most of the work. Now let others brag about you. However, there are two main things that people often forget to do:

  1. Say thanks. It doesn’t really matter if you received a positive or negative response, always send a follow-up email. If the answer was positive and they agreed, be sure to express your gratitude. If negative, politely thank them for their time.
  2. Give updates. As soon as your reference agrees, let them know what date and time they should expect to be contacted. If you get the job, update your reference on your success; They will be delighted to know!