How To Ask For A Reference From An Old Boss – 8 Proven Ways

Written By Shahzaib Arshad

If you need that reference letter, do not hesitate to ask for a reference from an old boss.

A reference letter is a good tool with many benefits, and it is not challenging to ask for a reference from an old boss.

How To Ask For A Reference From An Old Boss – 8 Proven Tips

Many people are not that comfortable asking for a reference from an old boss. There can be a lot of reasons why you feel insecure asking for a reference from an old boss.

Some people think that their boss may not want to give them a good connection. Others are afraid of rejection.

Here are 20 proven tips for asking for a reference in different ways:

1. Ask Them Directly:

If you are feeling insecure, do not hesitate to ask them directly. If the old boss is still working at your company, you can talk with him now. However, if you are afraid, then here’s a solution.

One great way to be more confident is by asking about something else. For instance, you can ask if there are any other projects they need help with or an internship.

How To Ask For A Reference From An Old Boss

If you ask this way, it can be a clever way to start the conversation and later ask for a reference.

2. Ask In Person:

This is an overall strategy but works. You can contact your boss via phone too, but in-person would be the best way. It makes it easier to handle situations and give better answers.

When asking for a reference in person, there are two things to consider: Be careful not to offend the old boss when asking for a reference.

It’s a good idea to ask for a written contract or at least a phone call that you can record and take notes.

3. How To Ask For A Reference From An Old Boss – Ask In An Email:

If an in-person conversation is not possible, then an email is one of the best ways to ask for a reference from an old boss.

Email is instantaneous and makes it easy for your old boss because he does not have to talk with you.

Furthermore, if the boss is busy, this can be a significant benefit because they can answer in their own time.

4. Ask With A Good Reason:

Motivation is one of the biggest keys in life, and when asking for a reference from an old boss, it’s no different.

If you have a good reason, it will be easier for your old boss to say yes. It can be something like:

‘I want to keep my foot in the door,’ or any other way to explain why asking for a reference is essential to you.

5. Mention The Importance Of Their Letter In Your Career:

If you do not ask for a reference, it can be tough to get your old boss’s help. This happens to the majority of people, so if it happens to you, don’t give up easily.

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When asking for a reference, you should mention how important this is in your career.

6. Ask For A Letter Of Recommendation:

It’s not the same as asking for a reference. However, asking for a letter of recommendation can be more accessible.

A recommendation letter is usually more general and less personal than a reference.

This means that it’s not as significant to your career as a reference. However, it can be easier to ask for the old boss’s help directly.

7. How To Ask For A Reference From An Old Boss – Show Appreciation For Their Time And Effort:

This can be an essential step when asking for a reference from an old boss. It’s necessary to show appreciation for their time and effort, so the old boss is more likely to say yes.

Moreover, when you ask in a friendly way, it makes the old boss more willing to help.

8. Ask For A Reference In An Email:

A reference can be essential to your career, and it’s better to ask for help in an email than in person.

You can give the old boss time to answer and reply whenever he likes by sending an email. However, this is not a good idea if emails offend your boss or you don’t have a good email address.

Sample Email 1 To Ask For A Reference From An Old Boss

“Dear Sir,

I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to know if I could ask you a question about your workflow. Would it be okay to get your thoughts on an idea of mine?

I am currently still working at XYZ Company, but soon my contract will end, and I’ll need new opportunities. My biggest goal is to look for a position in the industry to make an impact.

I need a reference from someone who knows me and what I have been doing over the past two years to get this done. Your answer must be in detail and precise because it will help my career.

I understand if you do not have the time to look at this request. But it would be beneficial to spare five minutes and give me your feedback. If that’s okay with you, I will contact HR and let them know that we had this conversation.

Regards,

[Your Name]”

Sample Email 2 To Ask For A Reference From An Old Boss

“Dear [Old Boss],

I hope you are doing well. Did I want to know if [Old Company] needed any interns at the moment? I would love to get my foot in the door and work on several different [Old Company] projects. Is there anyone who can help me with this?

I am currently still working at [Current Company], but soon my contract will end. My goal is to find a position in the industry to have an impact that fits my career goals.

To get there, I need a reference from someone who knows me and what I’m capable of. Would it be okay for me to ask you if this is something you’d be able to do? I would appreciate it.

I understand if it’s not possible, but I wanted to check anyway. Is there anything that might help me in this situation?

Regards, [Your Name]”

Sample Email 3 To Ask For A Reference From An Old Boss

“Dear [Old Boss],

I hope you are well. The reason for this email is to ask you for a request. I plan to switch my job for a position in the industry where I can make an impact. A reference letter from you would be beneficial because it will help me achieve this goal.

If possible, could you please send a reference letter to [Your Email]? As soon as I get it, I’ll contact HR and let them know about our conversation.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Regards, [Your Name]”

When To Ask For A Reference From An Old Boss – 5 Ideal Times

Now that we discussed how to ask for a reference, below are the situations when to ask for it:

1. Ask On An Important Day:

Another critical element that makes this process much easier is timing. It would help if you asked on an important day.

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It gives them more motivation to help you remember things better.

For example, your birthday or the anniversary of hiring you are great. Both events are special moments that can increase their motivation.

2. Ask For A Reference When You Clear Everything:

One of the best times to ask for a reference from an old boss is once you have finished every single task of the job.

This way, your old boss will remember everything you have done. They will likely be happy to provide you with a reference letter.

Moreover, it will be a lot easier to convince your old boss if you have done everything in the right way.

3. When To Ask For A Reference From An Old Boss – When You Are Leaving:

Another good time to ask for a reference from an old boss is when you leave the company. Once again, your boss will remember everything about this period.

It makes sense to ask them at this time since you need the information as soon as possible if necessary.

Usually, people ask for references in their last days. Others prefer making it earlier to give more time for their future employer to check them.

4. Ask For A Reference When You Have Worked For Several Years:

It would not be harmful to ask for a reference from an old boss after several years of work. This doesn’t mean that you cannot ask for a reference from an old boss after working for one year or even six months.

reference letter from old boss

However, it makes sense if you already know your boss well and he gives you a good reference letter. It could be beneficial in your career-long run.

5. Ask For A Reference When You Got Promoted:

It is always good to get a promotion before asking for a reference from an old boss. It indicates that you did something right.

It will be much easier to convince someone to call your current boss. It will be difficult to persuade you if you get fired soon after such a promotion.

Conclusion:

One of the most important parts of asking for a reference is making sure you ask in person. It’s much easier to convince someone if you ask in person.

Of course, make sure that your old boss is available to answer. Their name can be significant for your career.

Last Updated on 9 months by Shahzaib Arshad

Shahzaib Arshad
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