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How to ask for a letter of recommendation from your current employer

For a number of reasons, the modern age has curated a culture in which it is harder for us to ask for what we want. Too often, we feel that we cannot reach out for things that we need, perhaps feeling we don’t deserve them or don’t want to bother or inconvenience other people.

Well, we say enough is enough! Here at My Learning Online, we believe that everyone deserves to excel in their chosen profession, and one of the best ways to make your job journey as smooth sailing as possible is to acquire a letter of recommendation.

But how do we ask for a letter of recommendation, and what should the letter include? You’ve come to the right place, friends.

We are going to take you through the basics of letters of recommendation, how to ask for one, what they should include, as well as a letter of recommendation sample so that you know what to look out for.

The aim of a letter of recommendation is to paint you in a positive light, thus improving your chances of further employment.

What is a letter of recommendation and why is it so important?

A letter of recommendation, more commonly known as a reference, is a statement written by a previous employer giving an overview of your skills, workplace attitude, achievements and successes in your place of previous employment. 

The aim of this document is to paint you in a positive light, thus improving your chances of further employment.

References are a vital part of any recruitment process and will often be included as part of your application for a new job. Some places will require more than one reference, and so it is super important to ensure that you have contacted your referees beforehand so that they can write up an appropriate recommendation to offer when it is asked for.

Having a letter of recommendation for a job is important because it gives future employers a clearer idea of how you will work and cope in a working environment, what your strengths are, what you can bring to the workplace, as well as any particular skills and achievements you have that make you an especially desirable candidate.

Our American neighbours over at Entrepreneur outline further why letters of recommendation are so important when seeking new employment.

It (letter of recommendation) gives future employers a clearer idea of how you will work and cope in a working environment.

What are 6 details that should be included in a letter of recommendation?

It’s vital to know what to look out for in your letter of recommendation to make sure all the basics have been covered and that the reference is completed to an appropriate standard. 

Whether you are the one in need of a reference or you have been asked to write a letter of recommendation for a coworker, we’re going to guide you through the basic structure and content of references to answer the question, ‘What do you write in a letter of recommendation?’

1. The greeting

You’ll need a solid start. The standard practice is ‘Dear (Miss, Mrs, Ms, Mr, etc) followed by the name of the person the letter is addressed to. If you are unsure of the name of the recipient, then ‘To whom it may concern’ will suffice nicely. 

2. The intro

To ensure the intention of the letter is clear and that there is no confusion or mix-up as to whom the letter is referring, be sure to clearly state the name of the candidate, as well as the position they are applying for and what their position was at their previous place of employment. Here, you can also introduce yourself and perhaps note how you came to know the candidate.

3. The overview 

The juicy part! Here is where you will outline the skills, attitude and achievements of the candidate during their time in previous employment. This is what will catch the eye of the recruiters, and so being clear and concise about the candidate (and their work) is the key here. It doesn’t have to be pages long; a short but engaging couple of sentences can be all it takes to do the trick.

4. Make it personal 

Adding a personal anecdote about your experience working with the candidate is often a winner when it comes to recommendation letters. This is because the employer then has a first-hand account of someone’s workplace experience with said candidate. It is important to be specific when adding a personal touch to a reference, as verbatim examples add greater validity to the account.

5. Close it up 

A short and sweet final testimonial about the candidate is the perfect way to finish a letter of recommendation – think of it as the conclusion that will make up the employer’s mind.

6. Sign off

All that is left to do is sign on the dotted line – ensure you have put your signature either written or electronically at the bottom of the letter and that your full name, position and details are printed underneath to validate the reference and in case the employers need to contact you further.

Our American neighbours at Grammarly go into further detail about what to include in a letter of recommendation, as well as offering examples of template sentences to help with the writing and structuring process.

Letter of recommendation checklist

What will be your next adventure?

Want to try something new or freshen up the skills you already have? Look no further than My Learning Online. 

We are an online learning environment where – yep, you guessed it – all of our courses are completely online, giving you the flexibility to work your learning around your schedule and lifestyle. 

For courses that require it, we will also send you your very own kit straight to your front door, with everything you will need to get started in your chosen profession.

Each of our courses comes with a downloadable brochure with more information on course content, accessing your learning online, tutor support and more. We additionally have course fee payment plans available to make the financial side of things a little bit easier.

Speak to one of our course consultants today to find out more about any of the courses which spark your interest, and we hope to see you soon!


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