Get Schooled

The Dos & Don'ts of Asking for Job References

Last updated May 15, 2024

During any stage of a job application process, you will be asked to submit references. Professional references are people who can speak to your professional skills and experience while recommending you for the job you applied for. We share some essential do's and don'ts of asking for job references! 


Know who to ask

Choose three to four people who can speak positively about your professional skills and experience. This can be people like former bosses and coworkers if you have previous work experience. If you're applying for your first job, you can list people like coaches, mentors, or educators who know you well. 

Know how to ask

Before you list anyone as your reference, ask for their permission first! Not only is this the right thing to do, it will also give them enough time to reflect on your working relationship to give you the strongest recommendation possible. You can ask someone to be your reference by sending them an email, calling them (with their permission), or speaking to them in person. Click here to learn more about asking someone to be your reference.

Prepare your job references

Prepare your references to give you a strong recommendation by sending them the following materials in advance:

Create a reference list

When employers ask for your references, provide them with your official reference list. A reference list is a document that lists key information about each of your references, like their first and last names, job titles, company names, phone numbers, email addresses, and a sentence or two about your relationship with them (e.g. Cindy was my internship supervisor for six months). Make sure the font and style of your reference list matches your resume and cover letter so it looks like a cohesive package.

Follow up and say thank you

Always take a moment to show appreciation for your references by thanking them via phone or email. 

Two women sit at a table and talk - The Dos & Don'ts of Asking for Job References


List someone as a reference without asking 

Don’t assume someone will be your reference without checking in with them first! Always ask for permission far enough in advance to allow them to make a decision.

Ask the wrong person to be your reference

Ideally, your references should be people who know you in professional and academic settings. While your family and friends know you're awesome, it's best not to list them as references unless you've worked with them in a formal context. Former supervisors and coworkers, as well as educators, mentors, and coaches are typically the best people to ask for a reference. 

Have any questions about securing job references? Text #Jobs to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our advisors. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!

Find a Job


Networking [Training]
4 Reasons to Make a LinkedIn Profile

See the whole series

Let Get Schooled help you achieve your goals

Sign UpLog In


How to Ask Someone to Be Your Reference

Interviewing for a job and the hiring manager asked for references? Here's how to ask someone to be your reference.

Asking for Letters of Recommendation & References? Make a Brag Sheet

Creating your brag sheet is the key to getting the best possible letter of recommendation!

How to Prepare For a Job Interview

Preparing for interviews is an important part of the job application process. Here’s how to prepare for a job interview!

How to Look, Dress, and Feel Your Best in an Interview: Tips for Teens

Make a strong first impression! Here's how to look, dress, and feel your best in a job interview.

Get Schooled helps young people get to college, find first jobs, and succeed in both.

About UsOur TeamBoard of DirectorsFAQ

Pursue Your Goal

©2024 Get Schooled