During the job-search process, it’s expected that you’ll sell yourself via your resume, your cover letter, and the pitch you give during your interview (or interviews). But sometimes, potential employers want to hear it from someone else, and that’s when it becomes necessary to provide references.

Choosing the right individuals to sing your praises is a delicate art, as Bubble Jobs social media marketing manager Lauren Riley writes for Business 2 Community, but it’s easier — and more effective — if you follow a handful of simple rules.

Riley has compiled “4 Tips on Asking For a Job Reference,” and while the first seems like a no-brainer, it’s one a lot people might get wrong: “Consider the position.” You don’t want to simply pick someone who really likes you or respects your work. Think about the job you’re applying for and the set of skills it requires. Who’s in the best position to vouch for your talents as specifically related to this vacancy?

Next up: “Avoid email.” If you’re asking someone to take time out of his or her busy schedule to talk you up — and potentially land you that dream gig — the least you can do is call on the phone. Better still: set up an in-person chat, perhaps over coffee. It never hurts to stay in touch with colleagues, and this reference might not be the last time you need the person’s assistance.

Once you’ve chatted on the phone or picked a time to meet, send the person your resume and a list of the job specifications. When he or she gets a phone call from your prospective employer, you want him or her to know exactly what skills to highlight and how to highlight them.

“If you want to go that extra mile, highlight the key parts of the job specification that you feel they’d be best placed to provide a reference for — they’ll thank you for doing the hard work for them, believe me!” Riley writes.

Riley’s final tip is a smart one: “Ask for an additional letter of reference.” Somewhere down the line, you might need this person to vouch for you again, and if you have a general reference letter, you can avoid bugging them every single time.

“Also, the letter will be a great bit of extra collateral for when you get to the final stages of any future job applications,” Riley writes, “as it might just give you that extra edge.”