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Can I Use My Best Friend as a Professional Reference?

Asking for a reference can feel awkward, so it’s easy to turn to a friend. But, is asking a friend your best option? Let’s analyze to see if this is acceptable or not.

What the Experts Say

Generally speaking, you shouldn’t use a friend as a professional reference if you’ve never worked together. Although they can potentially be a personal reference and vouch for certain soft skills like your reliability and work ethic, your best friend isn’t typically someone you want to provide to recruiters as a professional reference. That’s because their opinion won’t carry nearly the same weight as a former boss or manager, and a recruiter may not take their input as seriously.

The Exception

It’s important to note, however, that there is one exception when it’s considered okay to use your best friend as a professional reference. And that’s if the person was your former manager or they’re currently working for the company you’re applying to. In this case, they can legitimately affirm your knowledge and skills, and a recruiter will be likely take their feedback seriously.

Asking a Friend to Be a Reference

If your best friend meets these criteria and you want to use them, there are a few tips to follow. First, be sure to ask if they feel comfortable being a professional reference, and if so, let them know that you’re using them as one. Second, take the time to share the job description with them, and suggest some relevant skills they should mention that tie into the position. Third, be sure to thank them for helping you out. This will make them more willing to be a professional reference again in the future.

The Bottom Line

Ideally, you won’t use your best friend as a professional reference because there are other individuals who are better suited. That said, there are a couple of scenarios where this is feasible. As long as you’ve worked together at some point where your friend was your manager, or if they’re currently employed by the company you’re applying to, this is considered acceptable. If you do decide to go this route, you should follow proper etiquette, which will increase your likelihood of making a positive impression on your recruiter and ultimately landing the job you’re applying for.

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