A Foolproof Guide To Requesting References During Your Job Search

A Foolproof Guide to References

A Foolproof Guide To Requesting References During Your Job Search

In this day and age, it’s pretty much impossible to get through a hiring process without providing references. And believe it or not, your references can play a critical part in whether you land the job. Following these 4 steps will ensure that you nail the reference portion of your job search.

1. Pick

When choosing who to provide as a reference think about your professional relationships. (No, you cannot use a family member or personal friend!) Pick someone you’ve worked with that can speak to your professional accomplishments AND your personal character.

The ideal reference is someone who worked with you when you were performing a job very similar to what you are applying for. Recent references are also preferred. Companies want to hear about what you’ve been doing as of late, not 10 years ago!

2. Request

Requesting references is best done over the phone, or even in person. I know, I know, it’s awkward and who talks on the phone anymore? But keep in mind that it’s important to nurture these relationships as time goes on and a quick phone call or coffee date allows you to catch up on recent accomplishments and goals. If a phone call or in-person meeting doesn’t seem appropriate, a well-crafted email will do.

Here’s my preferred template:


I hope all is well! I saw that you were recently [promoted, given award, etc.], congratulations!

I’m reaching out because I am under consideration for a [job title] position at [company], and I’d love to list your name as a reference if you’re comfortable. I thought you could speak to my [key requirement] skills and discuss the [related project] we worked on together.

Please let me know if you’d be willing to serve as a reference and if so, your preferred contact information.

Thank you in advance for your time, and let me know how I can return the favor!

All the best,


(Adapted from The Muse)

3. Prepare

Once you’ve nailed down a few references (usually three), you need to adequately prepare them. Consider any important details; Is this a private job search? How far along are you in the process? Make sure they have a copy of your resume and the job description. Don’t be afraid to employ the “help me, help you” tactic. Ask them to speak to specific projects or skills that are relevant to this position. If you know approximately when/how they will be contacted, be sure to let them know so they can expect it!

4. Follow-Up

This is an important step that many people overlook! Your references dedicated their time and attention to providing a recommendation, so keep them in the loop during the hiring process. If you landed the job, they will definitely want to share in your excitement. And even if you don’t end up getting the position, you will probably need another reference down the road, so it’s essential to nurture that relationship.

P.S. A pro-tip: You do not need to provide or indicate that you can provide references before they are requested (i.e. on your resume), but DO make sure you are prepared to provide them upon request!

Thank You For Not Hiring Me

Thank You For Not Hiring Me

Thank You For Not Hiring Me

Have you ever interviewed for your dream job and not been offered the position? Most of us have experienced this at one point or another. Have you ever written a thank you note to the hiring manager for “not giving you the position?” Probably not! Well, times are changing in this candidate driven market, and while we might never know exactly why we were turned down, you can still prove that you are a value to the company. How you ask? Write a thank you note to the hiring manager for “not hiring you.”

Last month, I gave this advice to a close friend who was turned down for her dream job. She called me crying and couldn’t understand why they didn’t choose her. She was a perfect fit for the job.  I suggested she write a simple note thanking the hiring manager for the opportunity to interview and for sharing information about the company and its culture. Short, simple, and not trying to sell herself. She did just that and exactly two weeks later the hiring manger called her out of the blue and offered her the position. She started seven days later and her first day was greeted with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers on her desk.

The following week I had a candidate interview for a position with a top client of mine. After the interview, I was informed they were choosing another candidate who had just slightly more experience.  Heavy hearted, I called my candidate to break the news.  I advised her to write a thank you note to the hiring manager for not giving her the job. She wrote a beautiful note thanking the hiring manager for her time, for the opportunity with such a wonderful organization and to please consider her in the future. Two days later, out of the blue, I received an email from the hiring manager informing me that they had just created a new position for my candidate and would like her to start immediately.

This is the power of thanking someone for “not hiring you.”  No one else is doing it and you have nothing to lose and everything to gain! So far, this strategy has worked 100% of the time for those I advised. The next time you get turned down for a job, write a thank you note and wait by the phone. You may just get that dream job after all!

4 Steps Closer to Your Next Job Interview

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Today we’re giving you all the tools to get through the job search one step at a time. Combine these four steps with your skills and confidence and you will lead yourself straight to an interview.

Step 1: Ready

“Knowledge is power, but enthusiasm pulls the switch.” –Ivern Ball

Direction: Research your marketability.

A good place to start when you begin a job search is inward. Understanding and sharing your brand is essential when tapping into the job market. We recommend you start by researching your marketability.

  • Find out how your line of work is rewarded in the market. >>Pay Scale: Salary Calculator
  • If you are opening to relocating for your career, find out where you should live to maximize your compensation. >>Pop Sugar: Market Research
  • If you know where you want to relocate, find out how it compares to your current market. >>Pay Scale: Cost of Living Calculator
  • Next, evaluate your skills and determine which skills are in demand. Take online courses, both paid and free to further your professional development. >>The Muse: Professional Development
  • Skills Evaluation: Technical skills are quickly becoming a standard across business. >>The Muse: Skills Evaluation
  • Find out how to leverage job boards to uncover the most valuable skills. >>U.S. News: Job Boards

Step 2: Aim

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” –Antoine de Saint-Exupry

Direction: Update your job search materials.

  • Resumes and cover letters should be tailored to the position you’re applying for. >>Life Hacker: Resume Tailoring
  • Select companies you want to work for. >>LinkedIn Research Company  LinkedIn is a great place to start but don’t forget to research the company website, press releases, financial reports, and social media.

Step 3: Fire

“Vision without execution is hallucination.” –Thomas Edison

Direction: Selectively apply for positions that align with your skills.

  • Read between the lines. Not having all of the requirements for a position doesn’t make you unqualified, it creates opportunity. >>The Muse: Job Requirement Awareness
  • Develop a job application strategy and organize how you approach your next job search. >>About Careers: Applying for Jobs

Step 4: Reload

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” –Henry Ford

Direction: Get organized.

  • After you have strategically applied for the most ideal jobs, it’s time to get organized. Use these suggestions to ensure you have a post application strategy. >>About Careers: Job Search Strategy
  • Follow-up with HR professionals and the most effective way possible, seek out the hiring manager. >>About Careers: Contact Hiring Manager
  • Measure your job search success. Find out how to evaluate your job search and make the proper changes. >>U.S. News: Measure Search Success


Getting to the interview is the first step in showcasing your unique style. Make sure you approach each step in the process with confidence and you are sure to land interviews.