A good reference can make all the difference, offering insight into your skills, accomplishments, and character that a hiring manager can’t get from your resume and application materials alone.
So can friends be the excellent professional and personal references for your job search?
There are a few things you need to keep in mind before you ask your friend to be your references. We spend the bulk of our waking hours at work, so it makes sense that our coworkers often become friends. If that’s the case, you might use your friend as a professional reference. If your friend is currently or formerly your manager, direct report, or colleague, they may be able to provide you with a professional reference.
On the other hand, if you’ve never worked together, your friend might be able to provide a personal reference. These references are about character, work ethic, reliability, etc. — all the personal qualities that make someone a great employee, tenant, board member, etc.
So now you know that friends can be a good reference. But keep in mind that do not use recent acquaintances or anyone who doesn’t know you well. Don’t ask spouses or family members to provide you with a reference — the hiring manager will assume that your family has only positive things to say about you.
But how do you make sure that your friends will Be a Good Reference?
Good friends don’t automatically make good references. Remember that you’re not just looking for someone who has a high opinion of your work — although that’s essential — but also for someone who can explain why they feel as they do.
The hiring manager won’t think less of you because someone likes you a lot, but they won’t necessarily think more of you, either — their goal is to hire someone who can do the job, not find a new best friend. So in order to make sure your friends will be a good reference, you need to look ask yourself again:
- Will they give you the permission to use them as a reference?
- Can they tell about the quality of your work?
- Will they only tell the positive things?
- Are they available, punctual, and reliable person?
As a rule of thumb, it’s a bad idea to ask anyone for a reference if you wouldn’t feel comfortable providing one for them. Remember that their conduct will reflect on you, not only during the reference but generally.
Keep in mind that hiring managers often Google candidates during the hiring process, and might do the same with your references. You don’t want the endorsement of someone with a less-than-professional online reputation.
How to Ask a Friend for a Reference
Now you have decided to ask your friends to be your references, but do you know how to ask them. In most of the cases, if someone be your reference, they’re just doing you a favor. It’s essential to be appreciative and to make things as easy on them as possible. With that in mind:
- Always ask your friend if you may use them as a reference, even if they won’t be required to write a letter of recommendation or make a significant time commitment to the process. It is both considerate and smart: you want your friend to be prepared to paint you in a positive light. It’s often best to use references who are available by phone, and you should ask them for the best number to use (cell, office phone, etc.).
- Review the job and your accomplishments. Share the job description and explain which qualifications and skills seem most essential to the role — and most important to the hiring manager. Offer examples of your accomplishments that demonstrate your aptitude for the job. Don’t assume that your friend will remember your achievements from your time working together. It’s hard enough to remember what we’ve done in our own careers — keeping tabs on someone else’s is nearly impossible.
- Is your friend phone-shy? They can still help you by writing a letter of reference. If you go this route, it’s not a bad idea to have a list of important skills, accomplishments, and duties ready to give them, to make the writing process easier. If it seems helpful, you can also offer them these templates to guide their writing — but be sure they use these as a guideline only. The last thing you want is to wind up with a reference letter that’s copied word-for-word from a template.
- Send a thank-you WhatsApp message or email. It’s the right thing to do, and it’ll increase the chances that your friend will recommend you in the future.