How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation From an Employer

A Letter of Recommendation from an employer is a document stating the professional competency of an employee or a previous employee.

It states the employee’s personality, skill set, and general attitude to work. The letter advocates an employee’s work ethics to a potential employer, admissions officer, or a scholarship board.

A letter of recommendation is useful with new opportunities to present the recommendee in a good professional light. A good letter of recommendation helps advance a recommendee’s career or secure a school/scholarship slot.

A recommendee will request a letter of recommendation to give them an edge over other applicants. It strengthens the recommender’s application and presents them as a suitable fit for the position. In addition, it depicts a comprehensive report about the recommended beyond the grades and resume.

A recommendee can ask for a letter of recommendation from an employer for the following reasons:

  • A recommendee might use it to secure a new job position.
  • A recommendation letter is required for school applications.
  • Scholarship boards typically request a letter of recommendation

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation from an Employer

It can be daunting to ask for a letter of recommendation from an employer, but the following steps facilitate it for optimal results:

Choose the right employer

A recommendee should approach an employer (or manager/supervisor) that actively worked with them for a letter of recommendation. The employer would have directly observed their work and noted their improvements. Such employers will be able to vouch for their growth and write a compelling letter personally. The recommendee should ask an employer who has the proper time to write a glowing letter, someone who will write of their triumphs, and give a positive recommendation.

Be polite in your request

A recommendee should be polite when they ask for a letter of recommendation from the employer. The manager is taking time out of their schedule to help the recommendee. The recommendee should not be rude, hasty, or obnoxious in their request. It will be sensible to mention the lessons and principles learned under their employ. Give reasons why they are the best person to write the letter. Send a formal appreciative and follow-up letter or email after their acceptance. If the employer refuses, stay connected – they might be of help in other areas in the future.

Offer specific details

Provide the employer with information about the application – course, scholarship, or job position (include relevant documents). The recommendee should emphasize the specific area of growth and experience they require. This will ease the writing and provide a remarkable letter of recommendation.

For example:

Information about the scholarship program, the scholarship board, his/her updated resume, and exact achievements will help an employer write a recommendation letter precisely for the scholarship board’s outlook.

Give submission guidelines

Submission guidelines differ from organization to organization. Each institution will indicate its guidelines. Recommended should carefully explain the process and format to their employer and remind them of the submission deadline for the recommendation letter. Never assume they usually give out many recommendation letters and therefore are aware of all guidelines. Submission format could be either through an online form, email, or certified mail.

Follow up

Always check up on the employer while they are writing the recommendation letter to address any subsequent questions. This also shows gratitude for their effort. Send them a formal appreciation letter or email after receipt of the letter of recommendation. Also, inform them of the outcome of the application, appreciate them again for their help during the process. A thank-you letter accompanied with a simple and thoughtful gift to your employer to credit their help is not a bad idea (the gift is not compulsory).

Important Considerations for Asking for a Letter of Recommendation from an Employer

The following tips are vital when requesting a letter of recommendation from an employer:

Carefully choose your references

The person who writes the letter of recommendation affects the quality of the letter significantly. A formulaic or stilted letter of recommendation will not help and might decrease the recommendee’s chances. Therefore, it is important to get a letter of recommendation from managers who worked directly with them, who will be able to write outstandingly well and personally about them. It is also clever to ask a manager who has a good working relationship with them.

Ask early

It is advisable to ask an employer for a letter of recommendation earlier than needed. Sufficient time allows them to write a letter that is truly reflective of a recommendee’s work. The time also allows them to coordinate their schedule and devotes considerable time to write a glowing letter of recommendation that could sway presiding panels. It is best to give at least a 2-month notice and preferably a 6-month notice. If such notice is not feasible, two weeks’ minimum notice is encouraged.

Use a little flattery

An idiom states that “a little flattery goes a long way”. Meaning that a person can benefit from others with a bit of admiration. When a recommendee asks for a letter of recommendation, they should genuinely remind the employer of its impact on their personal and professional life. This moderate adulation might also remind their employer of their conduct and capabilities under their employ. This will contribute significantly to the content and quality of the letter of recommendation.

Ask nicely

Request politely and be courteous in speech and manner. The request is for a favor, which the recommender could politely decline. Provide them with all pertinent information and explain the letter’s purpose clearly.

Provide all the necessary details

Provide the employer with vital information that will aid them in writing an outstanding letter of recommendation.

For example:

Information about the job position or opportunity, information from the curriculum vitae, and updates about recent achievements will provide directions.

In addition, remind the employer of accomplishments under their management. This will highlight the precise experiences needed in the letter.

Give your reference a way out

An employer could decline to write a letter of recommendation for many reasons. First, they might be busy and will not have the time to think about the recommendee’s accomplishments and write a proper letter of recommendation. Second, they may believe they do not have enough information to write a good recommendation truthfully. Whatever the reasons, an employer should have a gracious way out of the obligation. Remain courteous, grateful and keep communications open. A forced letter might be bad or stilted, which will harm the recommendee’s chances.

Ask at an appropriate time

 A recommendee should ask an employer for a letter of recommendation when there are no pressing issues. A hassled employer will not have the time to attend to the request, affecting their disposition to the request. This might affect the quality of the letter and ruin the recommendee’s chances. Instead, ask when the employer is happy – maybe celebrating a win.

Ask to meet in person

It is polite to request a letter of recommendation in person. However, the recommendee should request a physical meeting at the employer’s convenience, where the recommendee will politely ask for a letter of recommendation. A phone or email request is a last resort when a physical meeting is not feasible. Remote workers should ask for an online meeting before making their appeal.

Make your request direct and clear

A recommendee should give the employer all details about the request in clear and confident tones as vague requests create confusion and give room to mistakes. This might communicate wrong submission guidelines or highlight a different skill.

Ask positively

A recommendee should ask for a letter of recommendation from the employer in a positive way by pinpointing their services to the company, their growth in the company, and the professional and personal impact of the opportunity.

Give reason for the request

The recommendee should explain the reasons why they specifically approached them for a letter of recommendation. This is different from the letter’s purpose; this information tells the employer why they are the best to write the letter. These reasons will help the employer write a well-adapted letter precise to the recommendee’s needs and advance his/her chances.

Provide a loose template

An employer might value a recommendation letter template, which will make the task easier for them. The recommendee should explain key details they will appreciate in the letter, which will positively influence their application.

Double-check for a positive recommendation

A recommendee should always double-check for a positive recommendation. They should get the employer’s assurance that they will deliver a strong and positive recommendation. A negative recommendation letter ruins the applicant’s chances.

Sample Letter

Here is a sample letter of recommendation from an employer:

Patton Lodge

Creek Valley High

4107 Lewis Lane

Durham, North Carolina 27713

(000) 345-5678

[email protected]

October 24, 2021

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing this letter to support Jane Smith for the Medical Research position on your team. Jane is currently serving under my management as an Assistant Head Matron in Creek Valley High. She has been under my management since 2019.

Jane has displayed a wealth of knowledge and empathy while discharging her duties since she joined the school. She meticulously monitors the duties of the nurses under her supervision, updates and reconciles the students’ records while her personality fits in well with the team.

During my incapacitation as the Head Matron, a month into her employ, Jane bravely assumed position without a moment’s notice. She ran the school’s clinic with a deft hand while constantly checking up on my progress.

Jane has gone beyond her call of duty; she connects with the students on a different level, understanding them and getting them to confide in her outside of their medical needs. So I am not surprised she wishes to major in pediatrics.

Jane has spoken highly of you and your work. She has always shared her dream of learning and working under you. It has been an absolute joy working with Jane, and I believe she will be a good fit for your team.

I will be sad at her departure because she is like a daughter to me now, but I want the absolute best for her. This opportunity will enable her to learn tremendously under your tutelage while she, in turn, deposits her vast wealth of knowledge to the research.

Do not hesitate to contact me for any follow-up questions at the above addresses if needed.


Patton Lodge


Free Templates

Following are some free downloadable templates for you:

sample recommendation letter for employee from manager

professional letter of recommendation

sample reference letter

reference letter for employee leaving

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How do You ask for a letter of recommendation from the employer via email?

    A recommendee who requests a letter of recommendation via email should use the following tips:
    ● Use a professional email subject.
    ● Use proper salutation.
    ● Define the email’s purpose.
    ● Keep the email short without ramblings. Instead, the email should be clear and detailed.
    ● A recommendee should introduce him/herself and remind the employer of key personal interactions.
    ● Use precise and polite assertive words.
    ● The recommendee should explain why they specifically want the employer’s recommendation.
    ● The email should contain what they will like the employer to say in the letter.
    ● Attach all relevant documents that will aid the employer in writing a high-quality letter.
    ● Explain all submission guidelines and state submission dates.
    ● Give room for the employer to decline gracefully.
    ● Convey gratitude.

    How far in advance should you ask for a Letter of Recommendation?

    It would be best to give your recommender at least a 2-month notice, but a 6-month notice is most desirable.

    How do you ask for a Letter of Recommendation from someone you don’t know well?

    A recommendee can ask for a letter of recommendation from someone he/she does not know well by using these tips:
    ● Open a line of communication with them.
    ● Introduce himself/herself and check up on them.
    ● Explain your purpose. If the person does not reply well, do not ask for a letter of recommendation.

    How do you ask for a Letter of Recommendation at the last minute?

    The recommendee should introduce himself/herself, make the request, apologize for the delay and explain why. Then, offer them an avenue to decline and be gracious if they do so.

    How do you follow up after a Letter of Recommendation?

    It is best to follow up after a letter of recommendation within 7 to 10 days before the deadline with a polite visit, call, or email. This will give the recommender time to finish up without them feeling harassed. Politely remind them of the submission deadline and guidelines.

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