How to Ask Your Former Boss for a Letter of Recommendation

Two employees talking in an office

A letter of recommendation can differentiate you from all the other job applicants. It describes how your qualities, skills, and attributes make you a successful candidate for a role. This can increase your odds of securing a job offer.

When deciding who to ask for a letter of recommendation, a former boss may be one of your best options. They should know you well and be able to accurately explain your ability to succeed in the position.

Follow these guidelines to ask your former boss for a letter of recommendation.

Choose the Right Boss

Select a former boss who saw you develop your skills. They can provide examples of how you exceeded expectations or overcame challenges.

Make sure the details in your letter of recommendation affirm your strongest qualities related to the position. This shows your ability to contribute to the role and move up in the organization.

Ask Respectfully

Decide whether you want to request a letter of recommendation in person, over the phone, or through email. If you choose in-person or over the phone, contact your former boss to schedule a meeting.

During the meeting, politely explain why you chose your former boss. Include specific details that you believe make them the best person to write the letter.

If your former boss accepts your request, thank them for their support. If you asked in person or over the phone, send a follow-up email with details of your request.

Should your former boss turns down your request, thank them for their time. Mention that you would like to stay in touch. This can help you succeed with future opportunities.

Offer Details

When asking for a letter of recommendation, include details about the position and the qualifications you would like the letter to focus on. This can help your former boss tailor the letter for the hiring manager.

Be sure to share information about the company, the job description, your resume, and a list of your achievements. This can help your former boss describe your professional relationship and their qualifications to write the letter. It also helps them explain your skills and qualifications related to the role and two examples of your achievements.

Include Submission Guidelines

If your potential employer has guidelines for submitting a letter of recommendation, share them with your former boss. Your letter may need to be sent by certified mail, email, or an online form. This helps ensure your letter arrives on time and in the required format.

Follow Up

Send your former boss a thank-you note for submitting your letter of recommendation. Express gratitude for their time. This increases the likelihood that your former boss would help you again in the future.

At the time the hiring manager makes a decision, let your former boss know the results. Share again how much you appreciate their time and effort in writing your letter of recommendation.

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