6 Tips on How To Ask for a Professional Recommendation

One of the most helpful assets when it comes to job searching is having a professional recommendation from the right person. If you can get a letter of reference, it will let potential employers know that you’re experienced, trustworthy, and a professional.

While there’s a wide range of sources where people can look for recommendations, such as social and professional networking sites, plenty of people have a problem—they don’t know how and what to ask.

If you’re having trouble figuring out how to ask for a professional recommendation, we’ve got you covered. After talking to some of the greatest experts on the subject, we’ve gathered a list of six tips that can help you out with the process. What you need to do is:

  1. Ask the right person
  2. Make it easy for them
  3. Know how to ask
  4. Explain your reasons
  5. Provide guidance
  6. Return the favor

Ask the Right Person

Depending on the platform you’re using, it’s important to know who to ask for a recommendation. If you go to a professional networking platform and start asking everyone to help you out, chances are that people will find your request pushy and won’t want to deal with you. In this situation, you should only ask people that you’ve collaborated with in the past.

There are also sites that are dedicated to enabling professionals to get recommendations from their co-workers. In that case, you should ask as many people as you can.

Make It Easy for Them

You need to make it easy for a colleague to give you a recommendation. Approach them politely and let them know what you’re looking for. Don’t ask for a comprehensive recommendation that requires answering too many questions. If you do so, your colleague might feel like you’re asking for too much of their time. 

What you should do instead is ask for just a few minutes of your colleague’s time. You’re more likely to get a recommendation if your request is simple.

Know How To Ask

You can’t approach a colleague and just ask them to recommend you. You need to see how they feel about your work and determine if they’re willing to help you out. Ask them if they think that you’re doing a good job and if they would be willing to give you a recommendation based on your performance.

The way you phrase your question matters because it’s important to let your colleague know that they don’t have to feel pressured about giving you an affirmative answer. If they know that you won’t mind if they decline your request, they might be more inclined to give you a hand. Keep in mind that recommendations can affect both sides.

Explain Your Reasons

It’s important to let the colleague know your reasons for asking them to recommend you. Provide them with some context, such as directing them to the job posting that you’re interested in. If you’re looking for a way to increase your reputation, you should let your colleague know that their professional input and recommendation can help you to boost your brand.

Provide Guidance

When looking for a recommendation, you should provide guidance on what you’d want it to say about you. While plenty of people don’t want to use generic statements such as claiming that you’re a great person to work with, they might not have a better idea about where to start. 

This is why you should ask them to say something about a project you’ve done together or comment on a particular aspect of your work that they’re familiar with. The less pressured they feel, the more likely they are to recommend you.

Return the Favor

Keep in mind that it isn’t all about you. When asking for a recommendation, you should offer something in return. See if they might be looking for a recommendation as well. Keep in mind that the person you approach about a recommendation should be someone whose work you appreciate. You don’t want to return the favor and have it reflect badly on you. 

While asking for a recommendation isn’t easy, it can make a lot of difference when it comes to your reputation. The more referrals you’ve got, the easier it will be to find a new job.

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