The professional reference is a common part of the job search and application process. A professional reference is an individual who can attest to your academic and/or work skills. It is important to identify individuals with whom you have good rapport and that can provide the best information about your qualifications to a potential employer. When developing a pool of potential references, you may consider using a current supervisor, professor, past employer, and or colleague. Once you have identified the potential references, contact them to request their permission to be used as a job reference.

A professional reference can be provided to employers in various ways. Employers may request verbal or written professional references from a job seeker. It is a good practice to maintain an up-to-date list of three to five professional references with accurate contact information. When you are actively searching for a job, be sure to communicate with your references so that they can expect contact from your potential employer.


Hi [ Recipient's name],

I hope all is well for you personally and professionally. I am contacting you to ask if you would be willing to provide a reference on my behalf.

I enjoyed working with you and have valued your support and guidance throughout my career. I have applied for a position at [insert job title and organization to which you are applying]. THe post represents and incredible opportunity and I am excited about the challenge.

I have attached a copy of my resume [or CV] with this email as a reminder of my skills and experience. If you would like to arrange a time for us to talk through this, I am more than willing to do so as it is important to me to have your support.

Please let me know if you are willing to be a referee. I need to submit my application on [date] and would appreciate if I can include you as a reference. The deadline for applications is [date].

Thank you for considering! I look forward to your response.

Kind regards,

[Your name]

Hi [Recipient's name],

I hope you are doing well!

I am reaching out because I have been interviewing for a [position name] role at [company], and I would love to list your name as a reference, if you are willing. I thought of you because we've [ways in which you have worked together], and you could speak to my [key skills and abilities needed in the new position.]

I have attached my current resume and the position description for your reference. I know the hiring team is particularly looking for someone who [very short description of key elements of the role], so specifically, I am hoping you can talk about:

  • [1 - 2 skills, abilities, or talents that are key to the position]
  • [Specific project you worked on that is relevant to the role]
  • Key differentiator between you and others based on contact's experience with you]

Please let me know if you would be willing to serve as a reference and if so, your preferred contact info and any other details you need from my end. I believe the [call, email] will come from [hiring manager or recruiter's name] at [company] around [time period].

Of course, if you are not comfortable serving as a professional reference, I completely understand. Thank you in advance for your time.

All the best,

[Your name]