At some point in your working career, a future employer will ask for a list of references. A list of references are people, bosses and supervisors you have worked with in the past that will have a conversation with or write a letter to your future employer about YOU. This means they’ll have to give their honest opinion about you and hopefully show them what a great worker and person you are.
In order to make this process go over smoothly, here are some tips…
Who You Choose Matters
The person you put down as a reference should be someone who will say kind things of your work ethic and your experience with them. If there is any incident or rift between you and this person, it is probably better to pick someone else. You want this person to say good things about you. If you’d like, you can ask them about the kind of reference they would write. Being honest and open is the best policy.
Getting in Contact
For the most part, if you are a student you may want to approach one of your teachers, or one of your past supervisors. In this case, it is important to identify yourself to this person. Give them a situation in which you have had contact before (for example if you visited them recently, or had a chat on a different subject). Introduce yourself through a situation you have encountered with them before, even if it was a mere project. It is a good idea to make sure the person knows who you are and how you would know them.
Time is Everything
Never leave asking a person for a letter of reference or to be a reference to the last minute. It is something they are doing for you above and beyond the record, so you want to make sure you give them enough flexibility to do a good job and to not feel rushed about it. A good idea is to give them a deadline to complete the reference letter before you actually have to hand it in. This way there is a buffer of time in case things get delayed.
Because what they are doing is something very beneficial and nice for you, it is a good idea to always stay courteous and polite. Ask them in a formal nature, either in a letter or by face-to-face interaction. Never ask for a reference letter over email unless it cannot be avoidable. You want to be as genuine as possible with this sort of request.
You want to be sure that the reference knows about what you wish to persue or what you hope of doing. You can provide them with your resume, or just send them some of the information about yourself that they might be interested in knowing. This gives them some background to talk about or write about, plus it makes the experience a little bit more individual, rather than a simple “this person was really great’ recommendation.
Address it Out
It is great for the reference is about to address it themselves to the person who will be reading it. It looks a lot more professional when they’re writing everything themselves, including to whom it is addressed. If you write down who it is from, it looks a little less formal which isn’t very good.
Always send a thank you note out to your references after. It was a nice thing that they did for you and the least you can do is say thanks.