Who to ask to be a job reference or provide a letter of recommendation


As you start to apply for positions, it’s important to be prepared for next steps in the job search process.

A Reference List is something that a potential employer will likely ask you for if you are in serious consideration for a position you interviewed for with them.

Example of a Reference List

You will want to have already reached out to people to gain their permission to use them ask a job reference prior to being asked for your Reference List.

Since this will take some time to do, think about who you would like to reach out to to be your references and contact them by email or phone to gain their permission.

You will want to provide a potential employer with a list of three or four references.

If you are struggling with who to as to be a reference, 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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