How to Ask Your Past Employer for a Recommendation Letter

Obtaining a recommendation letter from a past employer can be a lengthy process that begins long before you end your time as their employee. There are several tasks you must complete before quitting a job in order to expect the employer to write you a recommendation letter.

Be a Great Employee

A recommendation letter is a reflection of the work you did while you were an employee, and most employers will only write a recommendation letter for quality employees. If you show up to work on time, get along well with colleagues, solve issues with a mature attitude and show a willingness to learn, your employer will most likely write you a recommendation letter. If the opposite is true, you should consider asking someone else for that letter of recommendation.

Give Proper Notice Before You Quit

Even if you were a model employee, you absolutely must give at least 2 weeks' notice before you leave a position. Many places would appreciate a more lengthy notice, but 2 weeks is the bare minimum. Giving notice before you leave a position shows your employer that you value the position and that you understand it will take them at least 2 weeks to find someone to replace you. If you leave without giving notice, you will put your employer in a situation where they have to scramble to fill your position. In short, giving notice that you will be quitting your job will help your employer remember you in a positive light.

Have a Follow-Up Meeting

If it has been over a month since you left your last position, set up a meeting with your former employer to discuss your time at the company. Gauge their opinion of you by asking questions about your strenghts and weaknesses. If there was any tension when you left your position, this is the time to clear the air. That being said, this is not the time to defend yourself for poor decisions you may have made in the past, but instead it is the time to get a better understanding of how you were viewed in the company. Ask your former supervisor if he or she would feel comfortable writing you a recommendation letter. If your former supervisor makes it clear that he or she does not have high opinions of your work, consider asking someone else at the company to write the letter.

Send a Thank-You Card

After asking your former employer for a letter of recommendation, send a thank-you card or letter expressing your gratitude. It can be time-consuming to write a recommendation letter, so your old boss should understand you appreciate the hard work. You will likely be asking for more letters in the future, so failing to send a thank-you letter could negatively impact your future.


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