Reference Request Email Message Example

Hands on a keyboard
Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy / Getty Images

At some point in the job interview process, an employer will ask you for references. References are important because they help to give a potential employer a picture of what kind of an employee you might make.

Your success and ability to impress your colleagues in the past is a good indicator of your future performance, and hiring managers will very likely contact your references for their insights.

Who you ask, and how, will help ensure that you get strong, supportive references. Read below for an example of an email reference request message, as well as some tips on requesting a reference for employment.

Example Email Message Asking for a Reference

Note that it asks for a reference letter, explains why you need one, offers to provide documentation, and includes contact information so it's easy for the reference writer to respond.

Subject Line: Reference Request - Janet Dickinson

Dear Mr. Jameson,

I hope you are well, and that all is running smoothly at ABC Company. I miss everyone in the marketing division!

I am writing to ask if you would feel comfortable providing a positive letter of reference for me? If you are able to attest to my qualifications for employment, and the skills I attained while I was employed at ABC Company, I would sincerely appreciate it.

I am in the process of seeking a new position as a marketing manager.

I look forward to continuing the work I have done in marketing, while increasing my responsibilities in a managerial capacity. A positive reference from you would greatly enhance my job search prospects.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if there is any information I can offer regarding my experience to assist you in giving me a reference.

I have attached an updated resume. Don’t hesitate ask for any other materials you think would be helpful.

I can be reached at jdickinson@gmail.com or (111) 111-1234.

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

Jane Dickinson

Tips for Writing an Email Message Requesting a Reference

Who to ask: Think carefully about who you ask for a reference. You want to make sure it is someone you know, and who can speak to your abilities as an employee.

While people typically choose former employers as references, you might also consider a character or personal reference. Business acquaintances, professors, customers, or vendors can make excellent references as well.

Phrase your request well: It's important to make sure your references will say positive things about you. Therefore, when asking for a reference, don’t simply say, “Can you be a reference for me?” Anyone can do that. Rather, ask whether or not the person feels comfortable providing you with a good reference.

Offer materials: Offer to provide the person with an updated resume and/or description of your skills and experiences. You want to make sure the reference has your most recent employment information.

It will be easier for your reference provider to write a strong reference if you give them supporting materials. If you are applying for a specific posting, also give the person a copy of the job posting. This will enable them to focus on your most relevant credentials for the position.

Use a clear subject line: In an email message requesting a reference, your subject line should be informative and straightforward. Typically, including your name and a phrase like “Reference Request” is best.

When the reader knows what is being asked, they are more likely to read and respond to the request.

Include your contact information: Include your email address and phone number in your message, so it's easy for the person to respond and to follow-up if they have questions.

Remember to say thank you: Conclude your request by thanking the reference provider for his or her consideration.

Don’t forget to follow up with a thank you after you get the reference as well.

Using Alternative References

While former supervisors and employers often make the most compelling references, sometimes choosing a different type of reference can be a good choice for the job you’re trying to get. Peers, clients, and colleagues can also make good references, as they are able to provide first hand information about working with you day to day. If your relationship with your supervisor was questionable, but your peers loved working with you, it makes sense to choose one of them as a reference.

If you’re looking for your first job, or are changing careers, you might consider using a character reference or personal reference in addition or as an alternative to employment reference letters. While you should use professional references when you can as well, a character reference like a professor or a mentor from your target field can provide support and evidence of your newly acquired qualifications.

More About References: Employment References | Requesting References | Sample Reference Letters