Preparing Your Professional References – Interview Insider

Preparing your professional referencesYou’ve prepared the perfect cover letter and resume, networked your way into an interview and aced it. But before an offer can be made and a start date established, your references will be checked. If you’re a job seeker, having a solid network of professional references is important to the outcome of your job search.

What Would Your References Say About You?

If a hiring manager were to call your professional references, do you know what they would say about you and your work performance? If you have current or former colleagues, bosses, clients, or mentors that you would rely upon to give you a good reference, they should be in the loop on you and your career endeavors.

Hiring dreams can be quickly dashed if a reference doesn’t check out, or worse, comes back with a less-than-stellar review of the job candidate.

So as a job seeker, what can you do ensure that your references give you a glowing review?

Preparing Your Professional References

Aside from keeping in regular contact with your references (a must!), you can make your reference’s role a little easier by preparing them to speak on your behalf with this simple script that you can copy and paste into an email that you use to brief them.


Hi [insert name],

I hope you’re doing well. How are things going for you at [insert name of organization/company]? 

I’m reaching out to see if you’d be willing to help me? I’ve been conducting a job search and interviewing with [insert name of company] for their [insert role] and I would like to list you as a reference, if you’d be willing to do so. I thought of you and [insert ways in which you worked together] and how that translates into the new opportunity I’m seeking.

I’ve attached the description of the job and included my current resume for your reference. I know that the hiring manager is seeking [list key elements of the role]. Specifically, I was hoping that you could talk about:

  • [Key skills/abilities relevant to the job]
  • [Added bonus skills/standout factor]

Please let me know if you’d be able to assist me as a professional reference, and if so, the contact information that you would like for me to provide. If there are any other details I can provide you with, or if there is some way I might be able to help you,  please let me know. 

Thank you for your time, I really appreciate it!

[your name]

Make sure to send a thank you note to your reference if they’ve assisted you and remember to return the favor! Anytime you can help someone else out is always appreciated. If there’s nothing specific that they mention or that you can think of, you might want to consider treating them to lunch or sending them a gift card for coffee, etc. The gesture doesn’t have to be big, but will speak volumes of you and your character.

For more great tips that land jobs, check out our Interview Insider series.