How To Ask A Coworker For A Reference – 10 Tips (+ 4 Ways)

Written By Aleena

If you’re job hunting, you’ll likely need to think about how to ask a coworker for a reference at some point.

This can be a tricky conversation, but it’s important to remember that your coworkers are usually happy to help.

10 Tips To Ask A Coworker For A Reference

Here are some tips for how to ask a coworker for a reference:

1. Choose The Right Person:

It’s essential to choose a coworker you have a good relationship with. They should be able to speak highly of you. 

Relationship - How To Ask A Coworker For A Reference

 

Avoid asking someone you know is unhappy with you or your work because they could give you a negative reference.

 

You don’t need to choose your best friend at work. But try to pick someone who you feel comfortable talking to.

2. Talk To Them In Person:

When you ask a coworker for a reference, it’s always best to do it in person. This way, they can’t say no without feeling guilty.

It shows that you respect them and value their opinion.

It also allows for a more detailed conversation about your skills and experience.

Also, if they say no, you can try to talk them into it.

Moreover, if they agree, you can thank them right away.

3. Ask For Their Permission First:

Before you list your coworker as a reference, it’s essential to get their permission first.

This way, they’re not caught off guard when someone calls them.

Plus, it shows that you respect their privacy and are considerate of their time.

Also, make sure to give them your contact information so they can reach you if needed.

4. Explain Why You’re Asking For A Reference:

When you ask a coworker for a reference, explain why you’re asking.

This way, they know that you’re not just looking for anyone to give you a reference.

It also shows that you’re serious about your job search. Be specific about what you need from them.

Do you need a letter of recommendation? A list of your skills?

Or just a general character reference? The more specific you are, the better.

5. Give Them A Heads Up:

Giving your coworker a heads up that you’ll be asking for a reference is a nice gesture.

It gives them time to prepare and think about what they will say.

Nice gesture - How To Ask A Coworker For A Reference

 

Plus, it shows that you’re considerate and organized. Also, it shows that you’re confident in your decision to ask them.

6. Make It Easy For Them:

When you ask a coworker for a reference, make it as easy as possible for them.

Give them all the information they need, such as your:

– Resume

– Job listing, and

– Contact information for the hiring manager.

The more prepared you are, the easier it will be for them.

Moreover, send them a thank-you note afterward to show your appreciation.

7. Be Professional:

Even if you’re close with your coworker, it’s essential to be professional when you ask for a reference.

That means using appropriate language and manners.

For example, start the conversation by saying something like:

“I was hoping I could ask for a favor.”

“I know you’re busy, but I was wondering if I could ask for your help.”

8. Be Grateful:

Remember to show your appreciation after they agree to be a reference.

You can do this by:

– Saying thank you,

– Buying them lunch, or

– Sending them a gift.

A small gesture goes a long way in showing your gratitude. And, it could come in handy the next time you need a favor.

Asking a coworker for a reference doesn’t have to be awkward.

9. Be Prepared To Return The Favor:

Keep in mind that when you ask a coworker for a reference, you’re also asking for a favor.

So, be prepared to return the favor down the road.

Do something nice

This way, they know that you’re not just using them and that you appreciate their help.

Also, keep in mind that you don’t have to wait until they ask you for a favor to return it.

You can do something nice for them even if they don’t need anything from you.

For example, you can:

– Buy them coffee,

– Help them with a project, or

Offer to help them with something outside of work.

10. Keep In Touch:

Once you get a new job, don’t forget to keep in touch with your references.

You can do this by:

– Sending them a thank-you note,

– Checking in with them from time to time, or

– Asking for their advice.

Keeping in touch shows that you value their opinion and are grateful for their help.

Ways To Ask A Coworker For A Reference

There are a few different ways to ask a coworker for a reference.

It all depends on your relationship with them and how comfortable you ask.

Here are a few ideas:

1. In Person:

As mentioned above, asking in person is always a good idea.

This way, you can talk about what you need and why you’re asking.

It also shows that you value their opinion and are serious about your job search.

2. Email:

If you’re not comfortable asking in person, another option is to send an email.

This way, they can read it at their leisure and think about their answer.

Informed decision.

However, make sure to include all the information they can write the perfect letter.

Here are some samples to help you out:

Sample 1:

“Dear Coworker,

I hope you’re doing well. I was wondering if I could ask for a favor.

I’m applying for a new job, and I was hoping you could be a reference for me.

If you’re unable to do this, I understand. Please let me know at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for your time.”

Sample 2:

“Hi Coworker,

I’m sorry to bother you, but I wondered if I could ask for a favor.

I’m applying for a new job, and I need a reference. I would be very grateful if you could provide me with one.

If you’re unable to do this, please let me know. Thank you for your time.”

Sample 3:

“Dear Coworker,

As you know, I am in the process of applying for a new job.

I wondered if you would be able to provide me with a reference.

Your input would be greatly appreciated. If you’re unable to do this, please let me know so I can make other arrangements.

Thank you for your time and consideration.”

If they give you a thumbs up, email them with all the information, such as:

Sample 1.1

“Thank you for agreeing to be a reference.

Here is the information they will need:

– My full name

– The dates I worked with you

– My job title at the time

– A brief description of my responsibilities

– Your name and contact information

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Thank you again for your help.”

3. Phone Call:

If you’re not comfortable asking in person or via email, another option is to make a phone call.

However, keep in mind that this could be intrusive since you’re interrupting their day.

So, make sure to have a good reason for calling and be respectful of their time.

You can use the email sample as a reference here as well.

4. LinkedIn Message:

LinkedIn is a great way to stay in touch with your professional network. 

If you’re not comfortable in any other option send a LinkedIn message.

LinkedIn

Again, make sure to include all the information they need to make an informed decision.

Now that you know how to ask a coworker for a reference, it’s time to put it into action.

Remember to choose the method that you’re most comfortable with and be respectful of your time.

What To Avoid When Asking For A Reference

There are a few things you should avoid when asking for a reference.

1. Don’t Wait Until The Last Minute:

First, don’t wait until the last minute to ask.

This puts unnecessary pressure on your coworker. They may not have the time to write a letter or provide you with a reference.

If you want to avoid this, ask well in advance. The ideal time frame is 2-3 weeks. 

However, do not ask more than a month in advance as this may be too much notice.

2. Don’t Be Pushy:

Second, don’t be pushy. Your coworker is under no obligation to provide you with a reference.

So, don’t try to guilt them into it or make them feel bad if they can’t do it.

You should also avoid asking for a reference if you know they’re not going to be positive.

For example, if you had a poor relationship with your coworker. Or you didn’t perform well in your role.

3. Don’t Be vague:

Next, don’t be vague about why you need a reference or the job.

Be specific

Your coworker can’t help you if they don’t know what you’re looking for.

Be specific about the position you’re applying for and why you think they would be a good reference. 

4. Don’t Hijack Their Time:

Don’t hijack their time. When you ask for a reference, be respectful of their time.

Don’t ask for a reference if you know they’re busy or if they’ve already said no.

And make sure to send them all the information they need so they can write a letter or provide you with a reference.

5. Don’t Forget To Say Thank You:

Finally, don’t forget to say thank you. A simple thank you goes a long way.

Your coworker is taking time out of their day to help you. So make sure to show your appreciation.

Also, thank them as soon as they provide you with a reference. This shows that you’re grateful and helps to build a positive relationship.

Can Your Coworker Decline The Favor?

Yes, your coworker can decline the favor. However, they should do so respectfully and professionally.

For example, they could say:

“Thank you for thinking of me. However, I’m not comfortable providing you with a reference.”

Or

“I’m sorry, but I’m not able to provide you with a reference.”

If your coworker does decline, don’t take it personally.

Remember, they’re under no obligation to provide you with a reference. If they decline, thank them for their time and move on.

Conclusion:

Asking a coworker for a reference can be a bit tricky. If you’re not sure how to ask, use the tips in this article.

Remember to be specific about what you need. Also, give them plenty of notice, and don’t be pushy.

And most importantly, don’t forget to say thank you.

Last Updated on 1 month by Shahzaib Arshad

Aleena

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