Proper Etiquette for Asking for a Job or Character Reference

Job interview


As one of the leading employment agencies in Kansas City, Morgan Hunter can tell you how you ask for a job or character reference is important. You need to ensure the person you’re asking would be a good source and is willing to recommend you. After all, what they say can be the difference between getting the job offer – and getting rejected.

Follow these etiquette tips next time you need to ask for references:

Choose the Right References

Before you send out an email blast to your entire list of contacts, think carefully about who would serve as your best references. These should be people you’ve worked directly with in the past, who know about your accomplishments and can vouch for your skills, experience, and values. You shouldn’t choose people you don’t work with directly at all (like a friend or family member).

Always Ask Permission 

Before you list someone as a reference, make sure you get their permission. The last thing you want is a hiring manager contacting them when they have no idea you’ve offered their name as a reference. Not only will they not know what to say to help sell you as a candidate, but you might negatively impact your relationship in the process.

Before you even fill out an application for a job that asks for references, call or email around in advance and get permission from those you’d like to list. Just asking “Can you give me a reference?” assumes a lot. Instead, say something like “Do you feel comfortable serving as a reference for me?” When you frame your question this way, you can give them an out in case they don’t think they can offer a strong recommendation.

Tell References About the Job

When someone agrees to serve as a reference, send them a copy of your resume, as well as the job opening you’re applying to. Let them know what kinds of questions you believe the employer will be asking when they contact the reference. That way, they have enough background information to prepare and make the most persuasive remarks. They’ll have thought about what kinds of experiences and accomplishments you’ve had that are going to be most relevant to the position.

Say “Thank You” No Matter the Outcome

Even if you don’t get the job, it’s bad manners not to reach out to your references after the fact to show your appreciation. Whether what they said was an important factor in you getting the job, or not, it’s still important to remember they put forth time and effort on your behalf to help you get a job. That’s worth thanking them for.

If you’d like more help finding a job that’s a fit for you, call Morgan Hunter.

As one of the leading employment agencies in Kansas City, we’ve helped thousands of job seekers find great opportunities…and we can help you too by giving you access to the information, tips, advice and connections you need to land your next job.

Contact us today if you’re ready to learn more.