See all blog posts

How to Write a Successful Reference Request: Tips and Examples

Claire Stachniewska
April 21, 2023

We'll discuss the importance of references in the hiring process and the best strategies for obtaining them. Additionally, we'll explore the dos and don'ts when approaching potential references and provide practical examples to guide you.

New to hiring? No problem!
This article is the hiring 101 that will help you to hit the ground running.

A well-written reference request can greatly improve a candidate's chances of securing their ideal position in today's competitive job market. The right references can vouch for your skills, experience, and character, providing essential information to sway a potential employer in your favor. But how can you ensure your reference requests are professional and effective? In this article, we'll share expert tips and examples to help you create a successful reference request that impresses prospective employers.

HiPeople's automated reference checking software can help you hire the best talent with fast, compliant reference checks. This invaluable tool ensures you're well-prepared for the reference request process, leaving a lasting impression on potential employers.

Whether you're an experienced professional or just starting your career, knowing how to ask for a reference is crucial. Keep reading to learn how to master the art of requesting references and increase your chances of success in the job market.

What is a Reference Request?

A reference request is a way for job applicants or potential employers to ask for information about the applicant's work history, skills, and character. Usually, this request is sent to people who know the candidate well, like former bosses, coworkers, or mentors. These references help give employers a better understanding of the candidate's abilities and work style, making it easier for them to decide if the candidate is a good fit for the job.

Tips for Writing a Strong Reference Request

To ensure that your reference request is effective and well-received, it's essential to follow these key guidelines:

Choose the right person to ask for a reference: Select individuals who know your professional abilities and work style well, such as former supervisors, colleagues, or mentors. This will ensure that the reference provided is relevant and insightful.

Provide context and information about the job: Briefly explain the position you're applying for, the company, and any particular skills or qualifications that are important. This helps the reference tailor their response to best support your application.

Be specific about what you are looking for: Clearly communicate the aspects of your professional experience and character that you'd like the reference to emphasize. This allows the reference to focus on the areas that are most relevant to the prospective employer.

Give the person an easy way to respond: Make it simple for your reference to provide their feedback by offering multiple response options, such as email or phone call. Be sure to include a deadline, so they know when their input is needed.

To further streamline the reference request process, check HiPeople’s solution that allows you to build role-specific reference surveys in just seconds.

Examples of Reference Request Emails

Crafting an effective reference request email is crucial to obtaining valuable input from your chosen references. Below are examples of reference request emails for different scenarios:

a. Request from a former employer:

Subject: Reference Request – [Your Full Name]

Dear [Former Employer's Name],

I hope this message finds you well. I am currently in the process of applying for a [job title] position at [company name], and I believe your input as my former supervisor would provide an invaluable perspective on my qualifications and work ethic.

If you feel comfortable serving as a reference, I would greatly appreciate it. The prospective employer may reach out to you in the coming weeks to ask about my work experience, skills, and overall performance during my time at [your previous company name]. Please let me know if you have any questions or need additional information.

Thank you for considering my request.

Best regards,

[Your Full Name]

[Your Phone Number]

[Your Email Address]

b. Request from a former coworker:

Subject: Reference Request – [Your Full Name]

Hi [Former Coworker's Name],

I hope all is well with you. I'm currently applying for a new position as a [job title] at [company name], and I was hoping you might be willing to serve as a reference for me. Your insights as a former coworker would be invaluable in highlighting my team collaboration and problem-solving skills.

If you agree to be a reference, I'll provide you with any necessary information about the position and the company. The hiring team may reach out to you in the next few weeks to discuss my qualifications and work style. Please let me know if you need more details or have any questions.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,

[Your Full Name]

[Your Phone Number]

[Your Email Address]

c. Request from a professor or academic advisor:

Subject: Reference Request – [Your Full Name]

Dear [Professor/Advisor's Name],

I hope you're doing well. I am reaching out to ask if you would be willing to provide a reference for me as I apply for a [job title] position at [company name]. Given our positive interactions during my time in your [course name] class, I believe your input would be instrumental in showcasing my academic achievements and dedication.

If you agree to be a reference, I can provide any necessary information about the job and company. The hiring team may contact you in the next few weeks to discuss my academic performance and how it relates to the position. Please let me know if you have any questions or require more information.

Thank you for considering my request.


[Your Full Name]

[Your Phone Number]

[Your Email Address]

The power of a strong reference

To sum up, getting well-written references is a key part of the job application process as they can really improve your chances of getting the perfect job by showing off your professional skills, achievements, and experience. Remember to pick the right person for a reference, give context, and be specific about what you need to make sure your reference check goes smoothly.

Reference checks help potential employers learn more about your work style, skills, and personality, which helps them make better decisions when hiring. A strong reference can make the difference between you and other candidates, helping you land your dream job.

To make your reference request process even better and help you reach your hiring goals, consider using HiPeople's automated reference checking software. This easy-to-use tool makes sure you're ready to impress potential employers when asking for references. 

← See all blog posts

You might also like...