Having a reference from a former employer is an important validation of the work you did on their behalf. But there are some tricks to reconnecting with a manager or supervisor in a way that doesn’t put them on the spot but helps you keep moving your career forward. Here is what we know about how to connect with your old boss for a reference.
A Few Tips on Asking Your Former Employer for a Reference
Reconnecting with a former employer can be tricky. Even if you left on a positive note, you must reconnect with them in a way that doesn’t make them feel uncomfortable or forced into helping you. You don’t want to catch them off guard, but give them plenty of time to respond to your request. Here are four steps that will help you facilitate this process:
- Email or call your former manager at least a couple of days before you offer the potential new employer the reference. That way, he or she can be fully prepped for the discussion. Let the manager know what job you’re applying for.
- Ask if the supervisor is willing to provide a reference for you. Make it easy for the manager to say “No” by phrasing it, “I’m applying for a new position and wondered if you would be willing to provide me with a good reference?” You can even qualify it by saying it’s okay if they don’t feel comfortable or don’t have time.
- It’s a good idea to ask if there is anything the employer or supervisor needs to make providing the reference easier. Maybe make a copy of your resume and send it, so he or she doesn’t have to look up your employment records. If you have a copy of the job description you’re applying to, it could even help to send that over, so your supervisor understands how your skills could fit the new role.
- Make certain you write down the former employer’s contact information and where they’d like the recommendation request to go. Some may prefer that go to a private email, for example. Confirm all the contact information you have before sending it to the job you’re applying to.
- Monitor the process. Find out who may be calling for the reference and roughly when that will happen. Make sure you communicate these details to the former employer to make it as convenient as possible for them.
- Finally, thank the referrer. This took time out of their day, so make sure you express your thanks for the effort it took to provide the reference. You can even send a card or thank you note, or depending on the type of job and how it turned out, even a gift card or some other token of your appreciation.
References are often the icing on the cake when applying for a job. Usually, you will be in the running for the job with other people, so having a positive reference could tip the job in your favor. Some organizations use references as the last check before an employment offer. Either way, connections are critical to your success.
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