How To Request a Letter of Recommendation From an Employer (With Tips)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated November 9, 2022 | Published September 7, 2021
Updated November 9, 2022
Published September 7, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Many jobs require recommendation letters as part of the application process. A recommendation letter describes a candidate's competence from the perspective of someone who knows them well. Understanding how to request a recommendation letter can help you collect supporting documents for your next job application. In this article, we discuss what a letter of recommendation is, explore how to request one from an employer, highlight tips for requesting a recommendation letter, and provide samples of a recommendation request email, follow-up message, and appreciation message.
What is a letter of recommendation?
A letter of recommendation is a brief essay that describes the achievements, skills, and qualities of a candidate, usually as part of an application process. Anyone who can attest to your skills can write a recommendation letter on your behalf. Most companies prefer that the recommendation letter is from someone who is or was in a supervisory role to you. Your colleagues, employers, supervisors, department head, or lecturers can write a recommendation letter for you.
Companies request a letter of recommendation to view a candidate from the perspective of someone who has had a closer relationship with them. This helps the company get a better view of such candidates. A good recommendation letter needs to be positive but also objective.
How to request a letter of recommendation from an employer
Here are some steps to follow when learning how to request a recommendation letter from an employer:
1. Pick the right employer
Picking the right employer to write a recommendation letter for you is a crucial aspect of the process. To get the best results, you need to pick an employer with whom you worked closely. Picking an employer or supervisor you worked with ensures the person has enough knowledge to write a descriptive letter of recommendation. Additionally, if you're familiar with their schedule, select employers who have the time to write you a good recommendation letter. Finally, you also need to select an employer or supervisor with whom you maintain a good relationship to ensure your letter is positive.
2. Write your recommendation request letter
A reference request letter is a chance to introduce yourself and confirm if your preferred employer is available to write a recommendation letter. You can start your recommendation request letter by introducing yourself, why you're writing the letter, and what company you're applying to enter. Next, you can reference the period you and the employer worked together and your roles at the time. If you can remember any notable achievements you had under their supervision, you can mention them.
After that, you can include when the recommendation letter is due. Remember to mention that you're available to meet for a discussion or supply any documents. Thank them, and include your contact details.
3. Schedule a meeting with them
If your employer accepts to write the recommendation letter, you can schedule a meeting to discuss the recommendation letter. The purpose of the meeting is to guide your employer on the information you'd like them to include in the recommendation letter. You can go with your application documents and review them with your employer to help them understand the best approach to support your application. Documents you can include are:
The resume you submitted for your application
A document containing your relevant achievements and skills
Information on the tertiary program or the job description
Relevant information about the institution or employer
4. Send constant reminders
Your employer probably has other tasks they're attending to, so sending a polite follow-up message is an effective way to ensure they remember to write the recommendation letter. Ensure your reminders aren't too frequent so as not to disturb your employer. You can leave them a message on your usual communication channel.
5. Thank the employer
Thanking your employer is a great way to show courtesy. You can send an appreciation message after the institution or employer informs you they've received the recommendation letter. It's also respectful to keep the employer updated on the rest of the application process.
Read more: How To Write a Thank You Letter
Tips for requesting a letter of recommendation from your employer
Here are some extra tips for requesting a recommendation letter from your employer:
As you're asking someone to take out of their time to help you, it's only right you're courteous. Ensure that all messages and letters you send to your employer have a polite and friendly tone. Contact the employer only through their preferred means of communication. When sending follow-up emails, ensure you space them appropriately to avoid disturbing them. Remember always to thank your employer, whether they agree to help you or not.
Ask an employer who knows you well
Asking an employer who knows you well increases your chances of having a well-written recommendation letter. An effective recommendation letter needs someone that can describe your capabilities in detail. While the status or rank of the employer can influence the admissions officer or hiring manager, it's not what makes a great recommendation letter. A great recommendation letter depends on the level of detail and information that's in the letter.
Respect your employer's privacy
The key difference between a reference letter and a recommendation letter is that your employer sends the recommendation letter straight to the potential institution or employer. You don't typically get to see what's in the letter. Respect your employer's privacy by not asking them what they wrote. This can help preserve your relationship and shows professionalism.
Submit only the requested amount
The hiring manager or admissions officer usually specifies the number of recommendation letters you need for your application. Ensure you abide by their requirements. Submitting the specified amount demonstrates that you're good at following instructions, which can be an excellent trait for the role. It also shows you respect the hiring manager.
Ask ahead of time
Your employer's schedule can make it difficult for them to attend to your recommendation letter on short notice. Try to request the recommendation letter long before you need it. This gives you enough time to follow up on the employer or find a new person if the initial employer becomes unavailable.
Recommendation request letter sample
Here's an example of how to request a letter of recommendation from an employer:
Dear Mr. Andy,
I'm currently applying to study computer engineering at Willsby University. As part of the application requirements, I need to submit a letter of recommendation from someone in a position to attest to my achievements and qualifications before August 20, 2021. As my former supervisor, with whom I worked for two years, I believe you're in the best position to give an objective review of my capabilities.
It would be great if you could write me a letter of recommendation detailing our work together at Andy Tech Ltd. I believe the admissions officer wants to see evidence of practical experience, problem-solving acumen, and knowledge of programming. I hope this description can help you decide on which specific experience to share in the recommendation letter.
Kindly inform me if you're available to write a letter on my behalf. I can forward any details you need to write the recommendation letter, including my application documents. Thank you in advance for your help.
Follow-up recommendation request letter sample
Here's an example of a good follow-up message to remind your employer of your recommendation letter:
Dear Ms. Payne,
Thank you for sparing some time to discuss my application today. This message is to remind you of my recommendation letter. The deadline to send the recommendation letter is July 20, 2021, a month away. The recommendation letter is a crucial part of my application process, and I'm very grateful you've decided to help me with it. If you need me to forward any documents about my skills, achievements, or our time together, please reach me via mail.
Holyfield university has stringent recommendation letter format requirements. The requirement that the recommendation letter doesn't exceed 400 words is quite strict. Please note the admissions officer requires that the recommendation letter is a PDF document. Once you're done with the recommendation letter, you can kindly forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If any emergency circumstances come up, and you're no longer available to write me the letter, please let me know as soon as possible.
Thank you once again for your help.
Appreciation for a letter of recommendation sample
Here's a sample of an appreciation message to guide you:
Dear Mr. Kelly,
This message is to thank you for writing me a recommendation letter supporting my application to Pear University. I understand that taking time out of your busy schedule wasn't easy, and I'm grateful you decided to help me. Studying computer engineering at Pear University has been my passion since I attended their hackathon challenge three years ago.
Thanks to your recommendation, I made it through to the next stage. I have a one-on-one interview with the admissions officer next week. I'll keep you updated on the application process if that's fine with you. Thank you once again, sir, and I owe a part of my progress so far to your kindness.
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