How to Write an Email to Ask Someone to Be a Reference

To ask someone to be a reference, you’ll want to send them a polite email with sincere sentiments for your consideration of them and your relationship. You’ll want to provide them with ample information and steer them toward mentioning the skills which you hope to highlight in the hiring process.

Here’s what you need to know to write an email asking someone to be a reference for you.

How to Write an Email to Ask Someone to Be a Reference

You’ll want to make sure that you’re choosing the right person to be your reference. An ideal reference is a work colleague with whom you have a good, current relationship and whom you’ve worked with in a relevant field. They may have a respectable title or be have long-term standing in a notable company.

Once you’ve decided who you’d like to ask to be your reference, you’ll want to approach them kindly; if you’re asking them to be a reference, you’ll want them to think as highly of you as possible. Here’s what you can do.

  1. Use a friendly and direct subject line.
  2. Greet them in a friendly manner and begin with a personal connection.
  3. Explain your reasoning for reaching out (why do you want them specifically for a reference?).
  4. Give them the resources they need to be your reference (including your resume, the job listing, and any skills you hope they’ll point out).
  5. Give them the recruiter’s or hiring manager’s information (contact method and time frame for the interaction).
  6. Thank them for their time without pressure.

The key is to make the person you’re emailing feel valued an honored to offer a reference. Given that you’re likely to already be in good standing with this person, there’s no need to be overly flattering – just be sincere in your request and avoid over-aggrandizing yourself. Put the emphasis on why you chose that person, not why you need a reference.

Reference Request Email Template

Here’s a template you might use to reach out to someone to ask for a reference.

SUBJECT: In Regards to Offering a Reference

Hello [Name],

How have you been? How has [job or personal connection] been treating you?

I’m reaching out today because I am currently in the process of interviewing for a [Title] position with [Company]. Given our history together with [Industry], I would be honored if I could list you as a reference for this position.

I will link my current resume/portfolio and the listing for the position below for you to review. This position is specifically calling for [Skill/Key Elements], which I hope you can vouch for my proficiency and capability in.

If you would be willing to act as my reference, you would likely receive a message from [Recruiter/Hiring Manager Name] via [Method] around [Time Frame]. Please let me know if you would be interested, and if there are any other details I can provide you with.

Many thanks,