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How To Ask For A Reference By Email In 2023: Tips For Success

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Are you feeling intimidated by the thought of asking for a reference via email? You’re not alone.

Asking someone to vouch for you professionally is a nerve-wracking experience for many people.

But by using the right approach, you can increase your chances of getting the reference you need.

In this article, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know about how to ask for a reference by email and how to make the process stress-free and successful.

What’s the Best Way To Ask for a Reference?

Once you determine who to use as a reference, it can be challenging to decide the right course of action, given the variety of ways to make this request.

Your method of choice depends on how you feel about that person and the kind of reference you need.


A phone call can be a fun and friendly way to request a reference if you have a solid rapport with the person you’re asking for the reference.

You get to have a casual chat, and the tone of the conversation will likely reflect your relationship with the person.

However, the downside is that it’s not the best option if you’re looking for a more formal reference. The person you’re asking for the reference could also be busy and unable to take the call.


If you need a more professional reference or if the person you’re asking is far away, the best way to ask somebody to be a reference is to send an email.

An email gives you a chance to carefully craft your message and ensure that you include all the information you need and express gratitude. Additionally, you can easily access the email again in the future.

Email can, however, come off as impersonal, and the recipient may take longer to respond than if you had asked them in person or over the phone.

In Person

A more direct way to request a reference is to do it in person. It demonstrates that you are willing to invest the time and energy necessary to make the request in person, which can reflect positively on you.

However, this method is not practical if you’re short on time or the person you’re asking is far away.

How To Ask for a Reference by Email

In this section, we’ll show you how to ask for a reference by email to increase the likelihood of hearing back from them positively.

What Do You Title an Email Asking for a Reference?

It’s crucial to be straightforward and professional when writing the subject line of your reference request email.

A subject line like “Reference Request” or “Request for Professional Recommendation” will convey the purpose of your email.

To avoid coming across as unprofessional, refrain from using informal language or humor.

What Do You Include in a Reference Email?

It’s essential to include all the relevant details in your email to ensure your request is clear. Here are some things you should have in your reference email:

Friendly Greeting

Begin your reference email with a cordial salutation, such as “Hi [Name]” or “Dear [Name],” to establish a rapport with the recipient.

Reason You’re Asking for a Reference

Explain your motivation for contacting the person and why you think they would be a good reference in the email’s body.

Tell them you’re looking for a job and would appreciate any assistance.

Reason You Think They’d Be a Good Reference

Talk about your relationship with them and your past collaborative efforts. Emphasize any relevant skills or experiences you think they can attest to.

Any Details You Have About Your Job Search

Describe your job hunt in as much detail as possible, including the position you’re applying for and the references you seek.

Doing this will make it easier for them to understand the context of your request.

Any Details About Timing

Ensure you include any deadlines or time restrictions in your email that any recruiters may have mentioned about doing a reference check.

In this way, you will make the person more aware of the urgency of your request and determine whether they can fulfill it.

Thank You

Express your gratitude for their time and consideration, and let them know you look forward to hearing from them.;

How Do You Write a Reference Email to HR?

If you’re reaching out to HR for a reference, you must approach the email with a professional tone.

Address the email to the appropriate HR representative and include your purpose for reaching out to them.

Be careful of what you disclose because HR will likely have strict privacy policies.

Reference Email Examples

Seeing a real-life example of a reference request can be incredibly helpful in crafting your email.

Here are two reference email examples you can use as a starting point:

Example 1:

Subject: Request for Professional Recommendation

Dear [Name],

I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to request a professional recommendation from you as I am actively job searching and believe your support would significantly impact my job application.

I would highly appreciate a referral from you if you are able and willing to do so. If you need further information from me, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Example 2:

Subject: Request for Reference

Hi [Name],

I hope this email finds you in good health and spirits. I am reaching out to request a reference for a job I am applying for.

I had the pleasure of working with you at [Company Name], and I am confident that you know my skills and abilities. Your endorsement would be invaluable to me as I continue my job search.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Wrapping Up

By now, you should be well-versed in email reference requests. It’s about being confident, polite, and explicit in your request.

Asking for a reference over email is a piece of cake with the right subject line and the perfect closing. Add a dash of professionalism and a pinch of charm, and you’re well on your way to getting stellar recommendations.

We hope this article has been a helpful road map on your reference-asking journey. Don’t hesitate to comment below with any burning questions you may have.

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