How to ask someone for a reference check [+ free templates]

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Zinc Team
March 8, 2021
Updated on:

When you're looking for a job, one of the most important things you can do is to ask someone to be your reference. A reference is someone who can speak to your skills and qualifications, and having a strong reference can make all the difference in getting hired.

So how do you go about asking someone to be your reference? First, it's important to choose someone who will speak highly of you.

This could be a former boss, teacher, or even a close friend. Once you've selected your reference, it's time to reach out and ask if they would be willing to provide a positive review.

When making your request, be sure to explain why you're asking and what kind of job you're applying for. With a little advance planning, you can ensure that you have the strong references you need to get hired. At Zinc, we ask you to inform your referees that you will be requesting a reference from them before you add them to your submission page. When referees are expecting a message from Zinc it speeds up the process and ensures that your references come back as smoothly as possible.

We are not alone in advising you to give prospective referees enough warning. Many articles on the subject suggest you “”. In fact, waiting until the last minute to ask your referee will mean that they could take longer to respond, slowing down the process.

If you’re reading this, you probably haven’t reached out to prospective referees yet. No need to worry though, we have you covered!

Step one: choose your referees carefully

At the top of your Zinc submission page, your recruiter will have left specific instructions about what kind of references they are looking for. You can find all the information you need about the  and who to ask for them. Choosing the right referee is important as you want to showcase your most relevant work experience and make a good impression. You also want to think about who will respond promptly to your request, so you can start your new job without delays. Some recruiters expect HR references only so make sure you’ve provided the person to contact.

Step two: ask before you submit

You should contact your prospective referee before you submit their details on your Zinc submission page. An email, phone call, text or social media message will do. We suggest you say something along these lines:

“Hello, I’m starting a new job at COMPANY as a software engineer. Can you please provide a reference for me? You will receive an email from Zinc and be asked to verify  my work details, then you'll have the option to answer further questions.”

Remember that if you no longer work with the person you are asking for a reference, or haven’t spoken with them for some time, you should remind them of where and when you worked together.

“Hello Jane, it’s Zara. I’m starting a new job at COMPANY as a software engineer. Please can you provide a reference for my time at COMPANY? You will receive an email from Zinc and be asked to verify  my work details, then you'll have the option to answer further questions.”

Top tip: you should make sure your referee knows what kind of job you are applying for, so they can showcase your skills in that area.

If you’re sending an email, format the above message along these lines:

Hi Jane,

I hope you are well. I’m starting a new job at COMPANY as a software engineer. Can I please submit you as a referee for my time at COMPANY? You will receive an email from Zinc and be asked to verify my wok details, then you'll have the option to answer further questions.

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Kind regards,


If you are required to provide HR reference checks only you might not need to reach out to the referee beforehand. In this situation, HR departments, particularly at larger organisations have an HR email address for references that you can put down. If you’re unsure where to find this, go to the company's "Contact us" page.

Step three: submit your referee's

You must provide an email address for each referee you put down. However, we also have the option of submitting a mobile number as well, so we can also reach them via text. Most people reply more quickly when they receive a text message, but not everyone is happy to be contacted that way, so make sure to check with your referee first. You won’t be able to submit the form without an email address and a phone number. Please ensure the phone number is a mobile and not a landline. You can find more information.

On your submission page you will also have the option to submit up to three skills under the Competencies heading. Adding to this section will help both you and your referee: they will have some help deciding what to write about you and you will have the skills relevant to your new job highlighted, making a great impression.

What you add as competencies will vary according to the job you are applying for and the experience you have. If you are applying for a job at a tutoring company and are submitting an academic referee, an example would be:


  1. Leadership
  2. Communication  
  3. Maths and Science

Step four: follow up with your referees

You will receive an email as soon as your referee has completed your reference check and it will immediately be available for you to view on your profile.

However, if your referee has not provided a reference within 5 days of you requesting it from your submission page, you will be notified and asked to prompt them. You could send them something like this:

Hi Jane,

Thank you for agreeing to provide a reference for my new job at COMPANY.

Zinc has let me know that they have tried to contact you by email. Can you please check your spam folder as their emails might have ended up there?

Kind regards,


More top tips for a speedy, streamlined process:

  • Add additional referees Adding an extra referee may mean you get the required number of references more quickly and can start your job sooner. Add another referee on your referee submission page by clicking the "Add Another" button at the bottom.
  • What is a referee? A referee is a person who provides you with a reference.
  • Are you a visual learner? Watch this video on.

We hope you now feel confident about submitting the best referees for you. All you have to do is add their contact details to your profile and you will be notified when each referee submits a reference check.

If you have any doubts or questions, we’re always here to help. Simply reach out to us via the chat-box in the bottom right corner of the screen or email us at.

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