The Right Way to Ask for a Character Reference

Are you on the lookout for a new job?

The technology industry only seems to be going up. And if you’re a job seeker in this hot industry, the prospects may seem unlimited.

But to get one of these top-ranked technology jobs, you’ll need to polish up your resume. And that means it’s time to get some killer character references.


Keep reading to learn how to get a sterling character reference, the right way.

Who Makes a Good Character Reference?

Not everyone makes a good reference. Spouses, significant others, and relatives aren’t a good idea. They may feel obligated to say great things about you and HR reps know this.

Character references can come from any of the following: fellow employees, past employers or other business associates, teachers, customers, and family friends. Choose people who you know can write a decent reference. And, of course, only ask people who will say positive things about you.

You want your letter of experience to come from someone you’ve talked to recently. They must be able to provide current knowledge of your character. Don’t choose someone you knew 20 years ago and haven’t spoken to in 15.

You want a prompt response from this person. Save yourself some headache by avoiding those who are notoriously fickle about responding to emails.

And ask a few people from different backgrounds. HR departments love to see that you have a diverse sprinkling of reference letters from people who can comment on different parts of your character and work ethic.

How to Ask

Email is, by far, the most acceptable medium to ask for a reference. Most professionals prefer an email request rather than calling them or visiting them in person. It gives them a chance to put some time and thought into the letter.

Of course, there are exceptions. If you know they prefer a face-to-face chat, then approach them that way. It’s all up to your preferences and those of your colleagues.

You only want strong recommendations. Phrase your question in a way that allows them to say “no” if they don’t feel the can give you that.

For example, don’t ask them if they will give you a reference. Ask them if they would give be willing to give you a positive character reference instead. Then you won’t end up with a lukewarm reference when it’s all said and done.

If you do ask for a reference in person, follow up with an email anyway. This shows them that you’re serious about the request and that they shouldn’t put it on their back burner. And it allows you to give them all the necessary information that you couldn’t cover in person.

What to Include in the Request

Help them out as much as you can. Always include pertinent information for the reference letter in your email request or in the follow-up email. Send them your resume so they have some additional background on you.

Tell them how they should submit the letter – some HR departments want letters sent directly to them. Also, give them as much information as you can about the job you’re applying for. Send them the job listing if necessary.

Great References Mean Great Opportunities

If you can stack your resume with a great character reference or two, you’ll look that much better to picky, HR reps. It might be the push you need to get you in for an interview at your dream technology company.

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