Resources | Asking for a reference

Marissa Anderson

So you’ve got a potential job opportunity—congratulations! Now you need a one-of-a-kind reference to seal the deal.

Here are a few little pointers to help you on your way:

  • Remember, when you ask someone for a favour, like writing you a reference, they are going to take time out of their lives to help you out. Be sure to show courtesy for the time someone is giving up for you.
  • Consider the language you may want to use in your emails. Using the words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ or phrases like ‘I’d be hugely grateful if you could…’ or ‘many thanks for your time/support…’ do wonders to help people feel appreciated. And a few compliments thrown in won’t hurt either.
  • Try and get back to professional emails within 48 hours—ideally 24 hours (remember point one).
  • If you aren’t able to reply within 48 hours because you are busy, or if something has happened, make sure you send a brief message acknowledging the email, a brief reason for the delay (it doesn’t have to state all the gory details) and an indication of when you might be able to get back to them.


Here’s one we made earlier:

Dear [awesome reference person],

 I hope this finds you well. I have been offered a job as [awesome new role] and wondered if you could please provide me with a reference? As someone who has enabled me to develop my professional skills and competences, I felt that you were the best person to comment on my suitability and qualifications.

 I am able to provide you with a copy of my current CV and any other information that would be helpful to you.

Any support that you are able to offer me would be greatly appreciated. At your earliest convenience, please let me know if you are willing to act as my reference.

 Thank you,

 [awesome you]