A strong job reference can go along way, especially when you are first starting out in your career and don’t have years of experience to back you up. That being said, how exactly do you go about getting a reference? You can’t exactly ask a current employer without hinting you are looking for a job and depending on how you left a job, asking a former employer isn’t exactly a given either. All hope is not lost though! There are a few ways you can secure stellar job applications and it won’t be as hard as you think as long as you think outside the box.
If you are still in the interning phase of your career or just recently passed it, ask your internship coordinator or manager for a reference. If you performed well at your internship, ask a few weeks before your scheduled end date for a letter of recommendation that you can save for your future job hunt. If you stayed in touch with former internship coordinators it is also fair game to ask for a reference. The reason internships are the perfect time to ask for references is because you are expected to be working towards finding a full-time job. If a full-time position isn’t possible at the company you interned at, then no offense can be taken by asking for a reference.
If you have no references stashed away and are ready to leave your current job, but aren’t telling your employer, then working freelance is a great way to build your skills, gain some references, make connections and earn some extra cash. Before you launch a full on job hunt, spend a few months working part time as a freelancer in your area of expertise. Once you have some happy clients, you can ask for references to provide during a job hunt. Not to mention, working a full-time job while freelancing shows some major work ethic.
Volunteering is a fantastic way to give back and build your skillset. Plenty of charities are looking for volunteers in marketing, graphic design, event planning and more. As a volunteer, not an employee, your supervisor will be more than happy to provide a reference. No awkward explanations required!
It may be tricky, but it is not impossible to ask for a reference from a current or past employer. Take some time to carefully evaluate your past and current work experiences. If you left a job on really good terms or because of a personal circumstance such as moving or a family situation, then asking for a reference is likely a safe bet. If you need a reference from your current employer, find someone you can trust and be honest with them. Explain that you are looking for an opportunity to grow and are considering pursuing a new path. If you are not close with your manager, it may be best to ask a coworker on a similar level as you.
How do you secure job references? Share your wisdom with us!
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