How to Ask and Get a Letter of Reference

How to Ask and Get a Letter of Reference

You may have all your documents ready to apply for a new job, but do you have a letter of reference ready? If your answer is no, then you might want to consider getting one. A letter of reference is helpful as it allows you to have someone else validate the skills and experience that you have.

Not every employer will require you to have a letter of reference, but in case they do ask, it is vital to have one prepared. Just make sure what is written about you is positive! In this article, we will take a look at why you need a letter of reference, who you should ask for one, and what information you should provide to the person who will write it.

Why Do You Need a Letter of Reference?

A letter of reference is also known as a reference letter or letter of recommendation. In this letter, you will ask an ex-colleague, boss, or anyone who knows you well in your network to endorse your abilities, quality of work, and what you will bring to an organization. A recruiter will use this letter alongside your resume and cover letter to see if you meet the requirements of the job position you're applying for.

An exceptional letter of recommendation can help you stand out above the rest of the competition. It is a way of conveying through someone else's words how you excelled in a previous position. It will also give an employer an idea of how you will perform in their organization.

Who Should You Ask for a Letter of Reference?

When deciding on your reference, you must choose carefully. You may think that you should try to obtain a reference from someone who is senior and well-respected, but this isn't always the case. You need to evaluate if the person knows you well enough to write on your behalf. If they don't, it will be evident to a recruiter.

Assess your network and see who would be best to write a reference on your behalf. Let them know that they aren't obligated to write a reference letter for you, but that it would be greatly appreciated. Make sure to ask early in the job-hunting process, so that you can give them enough time to write it for you.

Your reference must know you well enough so that they can write a compelling and realistic reference letter for you. Specific details of your career will go much further than a generic reference letter. Pursue a reference from someone who thinks highly of you and is willing to write a letter of reference for you.

In case someone declines your request, have a list of other potential references ready to ask. Avoid asking family members and friends, and instead, focus on people you met in a professional environment. You should provide them with some guidance to your reference to help them understand what they should write for you.

What Should You Provide to Your Reference

Make the job easier for your reference by providing some information to help them write. First, you should give them a reminder of what your role was in your previous job and refresh their memory on any qualifications and skills you have. You should be clear and let them know what you want in your letter of reference.

Tell your reference the position you are applying for too. This will help them tailor what they write about you to the position in question. Do this and your letter of reference will be relevant and useful to the hiring manager in the interview process.

Lastly, give your reference a due date for when you need the letter. This way you will be on the same page and both understand what is expected. If all goes smoothly, you will have a letter of reference that you can be proud to show an employer.

Written by Career Specialist Mar 08, 2023
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