How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

When changing jobs or beginning a job search, it’s critical that you know how to ask for a letter of recommendation. A letter of recommendation is needed when you are planning on entering a new job or industry. Recruiters take letters of recommendation into consideration when deciding whether or not the person applying for the job is suitable. Many times, recruiters will specifically require applicants to include letters of recommendation in their application package.

What Are Recommendation Letters For?

Recommendation letters are beneficial to a job seeker because they are meant to praise or commend the employee for their background. It will often mention all of the skills and functions the professional brought to their position during their time with the company. The reference letter also mentions how the letter writer is connected to the job seeker, and will often be written by a superior such as a manager or owner.

Who to Ask

If you need a letter of recommendation, think carefully about who you will ask. Asking the appropriate person will ensure the most relevant information is covered. Once you know who you will ask, plan out your timing and approach. Don’t just leave a voicemail or send an email. It’s to your advantage to ask the person face-to-face. Not only does this allow you to clarify any doubts about the request, it automatically conveys to the recommendation writer just how important the letter is to you.

Make Sure the Person Knows Your Abilities

Explain what you need from them and why. Then make sure you find out if they feel they know you and your abilities well enough to write you a good recommendation. That way they have an easy out if they are not comfortable writing a letter and you can be assured that those who say yes will be enthusiastic about your performance and will write a positive letter.

Always remember this person is doing you a favor. Remember that they are busy people, so give them at least two weeks to write the letter. And if they say no, thank them for their time and tell them you understand. If you feel comfortable, you may want to ask them why they declined. Hopefully they can provide honest and candid feedback.

Ask Supervisors

If you change employment, make a point of asking for a reference letter from your supervisor. It will save time compiling references later on. As time passes and people move on, it’s easy to lose track of previous employers. With letters in hand in advance, you’ll have written documentation of your credentials to give to prospective employers. The best time to ask for a letter of recommendation from an employer is a couple of days after you have given notice and before you leave.

If you have been laid off but left the company on good terms, a letter of recommendation will provide prospective employers with a credible, thorough account of why you had to leave the company. For instance, if the layoff was part of a general downsizing.

A stellar letter of recommendation can be the deciding factor between two otherwise qualified candidates. Have you ever received a great letter of recommendation? What type of information did it contain? Comment and share below! If you need additional assistance, reach out to Candace to learn more!