Leaving a job? How To Get a Dream Reference Letter

When leaving a job on good terms, you’ll want a reference letter in hand. Ask your employer for a letter. If they agree, offer to write a draft for them.

While working as the Director of Human Resources for five and half years, I was asked regularly for a reference letter.  From an employer’s point of view, I found it easiest when the employee prepared a draft letter for me.

In a busy job, with my own deadlines, I found it difficult to make time to write a reference letter from scratch. That meant I had to look up employment dates and main job responsibilities, and I had to think of the person’s best characteristics. All easy to do,but time consuming.

Employees were sometimes shy about writing the letter, maybe thinking it was presumptuous, but what it really is, is helpful.

But what do you put in your letter?

  • Job title
  • Start and end dates
  • Main job responsibilities
  • Qualifications required and held for position
  • What you were good at. This is important. Don’t be shy about saying what you did well.

End the letter with some form of the following sentence: Given the opportunity, I would happily rehire – insert your name here.

The last sentence means the company was pleased with your work and is code within the HR circles that the reference is good.

Next, print two copies with room for a signature. Put one copy on a storage device. Present both to your employer. Thank them for giving you a reference, and state that you have prepared a draft for them as a starting point.

In many cases, I signed the letters as they were presented to me. In some cases, I felt the person under sold themselves and added a few things, and only rarely did I think the person went overboard and I took a few things out.

I hope this helps you get the reference letter you need.

Thanks for reading . . .


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