3 Ways to Ask Your Boss for a Recommendation Letter

In this cutthroat job market, applicants need to leverage any advantages they may have. When a hiring manager is reviewing your skills and experience, there’s nothing better than having your former boss vouch for you.

In many cases, a strong reference or rec letter can be the deciding factor between two equally qualified candidates. Here are a few tips for asking for that letter of recommendation:

How To Ask Your Boss for a Recommendation Letter

Choose Your Recommender Wisely

When picking your recommender, aim for someone senior but also someone who actually knew what you did besides show up to work each day. Also, don’t ask the same person to be both a reference and write a recommendation letter. You don’t want to include the person who wrote you a rec letter in your list of references. It’s redundant and makes it look like you were really reaching out to find people who would vouch for you.

Also, it may go without saying but only choose former bosses with whom you are on good terms. You can’t expect every former boss to provide a rec letter.

Express Your Gratitude

Before you ask something of your former boss, it helps to show a little gratitude.

Basically, you want to explain why you chose to reach out to them. Let them know how much you enjoyed working under them or why you appreciated their leadership. They’re much more likely to do you this favor if they feel appreciated.

Consider a Face-to-Face Meeting

If appropriate, ask for the recommendation letter in person. You could consider taking your ex-boss out for coffee or lunch. They may have some questions about your aspirations and career goals. This will help them write a letter that is relevant to the kind of openings you will be applying for.

That said, bosses are busy. Some would rather you just send them an email. Make a judgment call based on what you know about your former boss and their personal preferences.

The Power of the Recommendation Letter: Your Secret Weapon

In the tech world, it’s not just what you know; it’s how you work with others. Having a strong letter of recommendation from a credible source, can many times make or break your chances of getting an offer.

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