How Do You Get a Job Reference?


how do you get a job reference

Getting a good job reference can often make or break your chances of being hired.

To that end, this article is going to look at the question of “how do you get a job reference” and what to do if you don’t have many options. 

Who Should I Get Job References From?

who to use as references

It’s best to ask people who can give someone an unbiased opinion of your work ethic. This would be people like:

  • Former boss & coworkers
  • Clients
  • People with whom you volunteer – this is handy if you don’t have paid job experience, but you volunteer at your church or hospital
  • A teacher or professor

When you are applying for a job, you want people to give you honest opinions on how well you do your job. Whether you are working as a volunteer or working in a paid position, the way that you work and how reliable you are is what your potential boss wants to hear about.

For more information about who you should get references from and who you should avoid, check out our full article on the topic.

How to Ask Someone to be a Reference?


It’s important to note that you should always be polite when you ask someone to be a reference. If possible, you should use someone with whom you have been in recent contact. However, if that isn’t possible, you can ask a previous contact and bring them up to date on what you are now doing.

Do not force them to give you a reference. Using language such as, “I know that you are very busy, so I understand if it’s not possible right now.” If your potential reference shows any hesitation, don’t push them and go to the next name on your list.

It’s also important to provide your potential reference with any details that are helpful. Once someone has agreed to be your reference and you have provided their information to the potential employer, send the references the information that can help them when they are contacted.

This is information such as:

  • The name of the company
  • Any information that the company will request

You want to provide them with some information about the role and the information you would like the reference to talk about. This is going to make it a lot easier for the reference to prepare what they should say.

For more information about how to ask someone to be a reference, check out our full article on the topic.

How Do You Get References When You Have None?

what to do if you have no work references

For many people, finding references is not a problem. But what if your options for references are limited? There are still some options that you can use even if you don’t have any work experience. Here are some suggestions:

  • Teacher – This is an especially good choice if you are still in school. If you have a favorite teacher or subject, ask them if they’d be willing to give you a reference for a job. This also can be an option if you’re in college, and you have helped out in labs.
  •  Friend/Family Member – Have you done work for a friend or family member? Even if it was just babysitting or mowing their lawn, this is someone you can ask for a reference.
  • Leader – Are you active in your church’s youth group or maybe you help out in the nursery? You can put them down as references. Or maybe you are a hospital volunteer? That is another place to ask for references.

Think about what you have done and whom you interact with. Chances are that you may come up with a whole list of people who might be willing to give you a reference.

Read more here

Who To List As A Reference for Your First Job?

who can i use as a reference for my first job

When you are trying to get your first job, it can be hard to think of people to put down as a reference. But here are some of the people you might want to consider:

  • Teacher
  • Youth ladder
  • Pastor
  • Volunteer head
  • Family friend 

Read more here. 

How Do You Get a Job Reference?

thinking person

Here are some tips that you should use when asking someone for a job reference:

  • Ask the right people for references.
  • Be polite
  • Ask them if they’d be willing to give you a reference and accept it if they say no.
  • Give them as much information as possible about the job for which you are applying.
  • Follow up and thank them for being a reference. 


Remember this: even when you think that you don’t have anyone you can turn to for references, chances are that there are people to whom you can turn. You just have to think about the people who are in your life and who can speak to your character and reliability. 

Hopefully, this article has helped you answer the question of “how do you get a job reference.”

About the author

sharon hendricks
Sharon Hendricks

Sharon Hendrix is an experienced career advice writer. She first started writing content to serve job seekers for the website CareerAddict in 2014, and has written on a variety of career topics since then. Sharon loves writing and has also have published two children’s books - Mike and the Deaf Student and Crayons - Color My World.

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