“Hi Coach, I was wondering if I could ask you a favour?”
“I’m applying for summer jobs, and I was wondering if I could use you as a reference?”
From a person who has gone from one job to another and one volunteer opportunity to the next, I’ve met people from various backgrounds. So trying to keep in touch can be hard, but is very easier to reestablish a meeting. However, people come and go, and as humans, we do forget people.
So, let’s get into why gathering references are very important. This is the reality. People forget people. Whether you have done a great job in your volunteer opportunity, your work can be forgotten within a matter of days, weeks, months and years. Keeping in contact with your references and asking for reference letters will provide physical evidence of what you have done, the skills you acquire and what makes you a great volunteer. Especially for volunteer opportunities, gathering references and reference letters is important. Sometimes, it will be the only thing you will have in order to apply to your next job or volunteer opportunity.
When gathering references, make sure you have a good impression. Especially when leaving a company or volunteer organization, keep in touch with your former colleagues. Sometimes, these people are willing to be your reference, and this becomes very important when searching for your next opportunity.
Some of the people giving you the reference will give you a massive surprise. In one of my reference letters, I was very happy with some of the kind words my coach, supervisors and bosses have given to me. Yes, there is a generic way of writing a reference letter, but some of the keywords and phrases can make a huge impact on landing your next job and volunteer opportunity.
Have you ever heard of this statement? We relive experiences through writing. As a person who studies world literature and has taken classes in reflective practices, this is a true statement. Reliving experiences are great ways to understand yourself or another person. This is the basis of a reference letter. The employer or volunteer organizer is reading this letter to understand you, the candidate, and reliving your experiences through writing.
Remember, people appreciate volunteers, but humans forget people, and it’s in our nature to do so. Yes, we don’t do this intentionally; it just happens. So, remember to gather your references and ask for reference letters.
Final thoughts: Keep in contact with your references. Update them with your life, and ask how they are. Make sure the contact information is updated. Maybe even set up a coffee chat. Nothing hurts with your references. Just always remember to thank them.