Who should I ask to be a reference or provide a letter of recommendation for me?

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There are many people you can ask to be a reference for you or to provide you with a letter of recommendation. Here are some ideas:

  • Your former boss at your most recent employer
  • Your former boss at a previous employer
  • Peers in your department at your most recent employer
  • Peers in your department at a previous employer
  • Coworkers in other departments at your most recent employer
  • Coworkers in other departments at previous employers
  • Customers
  • Vendors
  • Individuals you did volunteer work with
  • Friends

A positive reference or letter of recommendation from a former boss will carry a significant amount of weight with a prospective employer. If obtaining a reference or letter of recommendation from a former boss isn’t possible, then references or letters of recommendation from customers, former peers, and former coworkers are your next best options. Strive for three references, if possible.

Once a potential employer has requested your references, contact each reference to let them know about the opportunity itself, the name of the person who might be contacting them, and what you’d like them to stress in their discussions with this potential employer. Ask them to let you know if they are contacted.

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