Letters of Recommendation
If you interview for a new job, you can be sure they will check your references before making you an offer. Having good references can be vital to getting that new job. Plan ahead and compile a list of references and collect letters of recommendation now, so you're prepared when a prospective employer asks you for them.
Who to ask for references
Who should you ask to be your reference? On average, employers check three references for each candidate, so have at least that number of people to support you. It is important to know your references, and to select the right people for permission to use them as references. You need people who can confirm where you worked, your job title, why you left the company, and other employment details. It is also very important to have a good idea about what they will say about your personality and your performance. It is perfectly acceptable to use references other than your current employer. Business contacts, teachers or academic advisors, customers and suppliers are all good references. If you did volunteer work, consider using managers or other members of the organization as personal references. When you leave a job, request a letter of recommendation from your supervisor. As time passes and people change jobs, it's easy to lose touch with past employers, so you should have written documentation of your credentials to present to potential employers. If you have not already done so, its never too late to go back and ask for letters of recommendation from your previous employers to include in your personnel file.
How to request a letter of recommendation
Do not ask "Can you give me a letter of recommendation?" Almost anyone can write a letter. The problem may be about what to write. A better question is: "Do you think you can give me a good reference? In this way, the person you ask will have an easy out if they do not feel comfortable writing a letter, and you can be sure that those who say "yes" were enthusiastic about your performance and will write a positive letter. Offer to deliver an updated copy of your resume and information about your skills and experience in order for your reference to have current information with which to work. In addition to references, you may be asked to give contact information pertaining to your supervisor. However, prospective employers must get your permission before contacting your current supervisor to avoid compromising your current position.
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