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How To Ask For A Reference Letter From Employers [& Best Practices]

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Job hunting is not a walk in the park – you need to present something that can make you stand out from other interviewees and increase your chances of landing your dream job.

One of the things that can make you stand out is a reference letter.

A reference letter is a letter in which a person provides a positive recommendation for another person.

To get a reference letter for a job, you should approach someone you have previously worked with who can speak to your skills and qualifications.

You will need to provide them with information about the job you are applying for.

Are you looking for a reference letter from your employer?

In this article, we’ll explain how to ask for a reference letter from employers, when you will need it, and why it’s essential.

What Is a Reference Letter From an Employer?

A reference letter is a one- or two-page document usually written by human resource professionals, managers, or professional mentors.

It shows your skills, qualities, attributes, and behavior.

This letter also indicates the time you’ve worked with your previous company, your responsibilities, and your achievements during the period you worked with them.

Your human resource manager or mentor may also endorse you in a reference letter.

Why Is a Reference Letter From an Employer Important?

A reference letter is an essential tool for all recruiters. It contains all the relevant information that every employer wants to know about their future employee, so they can determine if you’re a fit for their company.

Here are the reasons why a reference letter from employers is essential.

They Help Make the Decision

When a company advertises a job opportunity, many people usually apply. Choosing the best candidate can be overwhelming, especially if most applicants are qualified.

A reference letter can help the recruiting managers sieve through the applications and get the best candidate.

They Attest to Skills and Behavior

The recruiters usually ask about your skills and previous conduct during a job interview.

Although the hiring manager expects you to tell the truth, they must confirm since some interviewees commonly exaggerate their qualifications or cheat outright.

The references on a resume confirm your word, enabling the recruiting managers to trust you even more. Trust is essential in any working environment since it strengthens the relationship with your employers.

Also, when recruiters know about your skills, they’ll assign you the roles that fit your abilities, increasing your productivity.

They Shed Light on What It’s Like To Work With You

The people who normally write your reference letter are those you’ve worked with for some time. They know your strengths, weaknesses, and working attitude.

A reference letter allows them to share what it’s like working with you with your future employer.

Choose someone with whom you have a good working relationship since they’ll write only nice things about you.

Your potential employer may consider you for the job when they only read positive things about you.

When Do You Need a Reference Letter From an Employer?

Different circumstances may require you to ask for a reference letter from employers, as discussed below.

When Looking for a New Job in a Different Company

If the working environment in your current company is not friendly, you may want to look for a job in a different firm.

You may also need to quit your job if you feel the salary doesn’t satisfy your needs and look for one that pays better.

Once you decide to move to a new company, inform your manager and hand in your resignation letter early enough, according to your company’s rules.

Some companies require employees to write a resignation letter a month before quitting, while others require two weeks.

Afterward, you can ask your current employer for a reference letter to help you during job hunting.

Before doing that, ensure your employer is okay with you leaving the company so they can write you a good letter.

Give them at least two weeks to take in the news. If you ask immediately after handing in your resignation, they may feel pressured and write you a bad review, which is the last thing you’d want when job hunting.

When Applying for a New Role Within Your Company

When you’ve worked in a particular department for too long, the environment may become too boring, lowering productivity.

The best way to deal with this issue is to ask the HR department to give you a new role within the company that challenges you.

Convincing the recruiting managers that you can comfortably handle a new role is challenging. A good reference can show your skills and prove you’re up to the task.

When Looking for a Promotion Within Your Company

Companies normally promote their employees after working with them for some time. For instance, your employer may move you from junior staff to a managerial position.

The promotion process is thorough, and not everyone qualifies. Ask your manager for a reference letter to increase your chances of getting a promotion so that you can move up the career ladder quickly.

Does an Employer Have To Provide a Reference Letter?

Employers are not mandated by the law to provide their workers with reference letters, including those who have been fired or willingly left the company.

However, suppose a court determines that a company’s reluctance to give their employees references for a job is in “bad faith” and has affected your chances of landing a job.

In that case, your employer may face legal action. The court may force them to pay you for the damages caused.

A reasonable employer should give you a good reference letter to help you find a job when you leave their company.

How to Request a Reference Letter From an Employer

Getting a reference letter from your employer after resigning or quitting your job is not guaranteed.

Some employers may refuse to give it to you, while others are kind enough to offer you one.

Follow these steps to increase your chances of getting a good reference letter and securing a good job soon.

Choose the Right Person

A reference letter’s impact depends on the person who writes it. Start by looking for five to ten qualified individuals.

Identify an employer who has seen you grow and can cite specific instances when you surpassed expectations or overcame a problem.

They can better demonstrate your abilities and progress in your career. Finding professional references increases your chances of landing the job.

Be Polite

Next, request your employer for a reference letter through email, a phone call, or a text, depending on your relationship. When asking someone to be a reference, you should be polite.

If you intend to speak with them face to face, arrange a meeting beforehand. Try to explain why you settled on them politely and in detail.

Sometimes, your employer may refuse to write you a reference letter. Thank them for their time, and let them know you’d still like to keep in touch.

Maintaining the relationship is essential since you may need them in the future. If they agree, thank them and send a follow-up email to confirm your request.

Explain Why You Need One

When you meet or call your employer, explain why you need the reference letter.

Tell them how helpful the letter would be and how you’d appreciate it if they agreed to write it. This way, you’ll get them to agree fast, and they wouldn’t think of turning you down.

Offer Specific Details

Inform your employer about the position you’re eyeing and the skills and qualities you’d want the letter to emphasize. This enables them to personalize a letter that will please the hiring manager.

To avoid mistakes, send them a rundown of your accomplishments and your most recent CV.

Give Guidelines

Companies usually give clear instructions on how to submit a reference letter. Some need you to use an official email or an online form.

Call your employer in advance and let them know the proper method for submitting your reference letter to avoid delays.

Follow Up

Follow up with your employer during the application process to confirm if they sent the letter via call or text. You can also use this opportunity to thank them for their efforts.

Thank Them

Send a final thank you message to your employer through a handwritten note or email.

This shows that you appreciate their efforts and increases the probability of them helping you in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the FAQs about requesting a reference letter from your employer.

What happens if an employer refuses to give a reference?

When your employer refuses to give you a reference letter, request them to offer you a basic reference that shows the positions you held in the company and the duration you worked with them.

You can also consider looking for other employers you’ve ever worked with if the current one refuses to give you the letter.

Who should you not ask for a reference letter?

Avoid asking for a reference letter from your family members or close friends. Otherwise, the recruiting managers may view it as biased and less accurate.

Does a CV include a reference letter?

No. Only include a reference letter in your CV when the recruiter asks you to.

How do you ask for a reference letter on short notice?

If you need a reference letter quickly, ask an employer close to you. Explain the circumstances and give them your application materials as soon as possible.

What happens if your reference letter is late?

You may not land your dream job if you don’t send your reference letter on time. Always follow up with your employer to ensure they send it early enough.

Wrapping Up

A reference letter is essential when looking for a new job. It will show your potential employers your skills and strengths, increasing your chances of getting a new job.

When asking your employer for a reference letter, use the right method to ensure they agree to write you one.

Comment below if you have any questions about getting a reference letter from your employer.

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