What Do You Say to a Reference You Haven’t Contacted in Years?

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You’ve polished your resume. You’ve brushed up on the latest trends in your industry. Your cover letter is succinct and tailored for each employer. You’re ready to start the job hunt in earnest. There’s just one problem. When was the last time you talked with your references?

If it’s been a long time since you’ve been in touch with your references, you’ll need to reach out to them before you start putting their names on your application forms. No one likes to be surprised, and if you don’t let your references know you’re looking for work, they might feel unprepared to respond to questions. And that won’t look good for you.

Contacting someone just to ask a favor can be uncomfortable, but following these tips will help you make the best impression.

Be Honest

We all get busy, and most people won’t hold the gap in contact against you. Just be honest and apologize for not doing a better job staying in touch. If the person does get upset, scratch them off your reference list—and be glad you found out now. Consider reaching out more often in the future to develop your relationship so you aren’t just talking to them when you have a need.

Make Your Request

Let them know you’re looking for work and you would like to use them as a reference. Tell them the type of work, and if it’s related to work you did together, tell them how. This can help jog their memory of the work you did together, which is particularly important if that was some time ago.

Provide Talking Points

Chances are, your experience and qualifications have changed since you worked with most of your references. Providing a brief overview of what you’ve been up to or any new qualifications you possess will help them speak knowledgeably to your prospective employer. You should also offer to send an updated resume or answer any questions they may have.

If it’s been several years since you worked together, you may also want to remind them when that was and what job you did—chances are they’ve worked with a lot of other people since then, so they’ll appreciate the reminder.

Be Thankful

Above all else, thank them for their help. They’re doing you a huge favor, and they don’t have to. They’re doing it because they appreciated the time you worked together, and because they generally want to help you succeed. If you’re not thankful for that, you don’t deserve their recommendation.

Madden Industrial Craftsmen strives to be the leading industrial staffing company in the Northwest by developing lifelong customer relationships and recognizing and rewarding our employees’ skills and contributions. Contact our great team today to get started on the next step in your career!