When job seekers are actively looking for a new position with another company, those potential employers are quite likely to ask for professional references. With that in mind, it's wise to have a good plan for who you're going to ask to provide those references in place, well before they're needed.
Here are a few simple tips for getting colleagues to provide strong references that will help you lock down your dream job:
1) Get a head start
When you're starting your job search or are contacted by a recruiter, it's a good idea to start looking for references as soon as possible, according to The Muse. After all, if people know a month or even a week in advance that they will be tapped for a reference, it allows them time to collect their thoughts about you as a job candidate and get together any relevant information you might need.
You can ask for a reference in person, via email or over the phone; the sooner it's done, the better.
2) Pick people you know and trust
This might go without saying, but it's always wise to make sure the person you're asking for a reference knows you and your work, and will speak honestly but positively about what you bring to the table professionally, The Muse added. After all, if the person knows you only in passing or hasn't worked with you directly, they might not be able to give potential employers the best idea of why you're a great candidate.
3) Put it nicely
Just remember: If you're asking for a reference, you're asking someone to do you a favor, according to Indeed. As such, wrapping the ask in a "compliment sandwich" - i.e. saying how much you respect the person's work or appreciate their input, then asking, then saying how much you appreciate the consideration - can help make it an easy decision for the person to say "yes" to your request.
4) Let them know in advance
After you first sought the reference, it may be weeks or months before you actually get to the point where the reference is needed, Indeed said. As a result, once you're approaching the point where a possible employer is going to ask for your references, it's wise to reach out to that person and give them a heads up that they'll get a call or email in the near future.
5) Make sure you know their latest information
If you ask a person for a reference, it's important to get all the various information about them right, according to Alis. That means confirming their job title, phone number, email address and so on. If a potential employer reaches out to the wrong number or doesn't have the correct information about what the person does, it may not reflect well on your organizational skills.
In general, you should strive to make the process of getting a reference, and that reference providing a strong review to a prospective employer, as simple and pleasant as possible for all involved. Doing so helps ensure you'll get the job you're looking for.