Securing Letters of Reference

Who To Get Them From, What They Should Look Like

Securing Letters of Reference







By the Monster Career Coach

When looking for a new job, it is important to make sure that you have your references lined up. Generally a potential employer will ask to contact your references once they have interviewed you and are just about ready to present you with a job offer.

Once that moment arrives, you can try to make the process go faster by presenting the employer with a letter of reference from at least one of your key references, along with their contact information. It may surprise you to learn that not all employers take the time to contact the references that you have provided. If they don't, they may choose instead to rely solely on the letter(s) themselves. So it may work in your favour to get a reference letter from one, two or even three people who are willing to endorse you.

Choose Your References Carefully

Who should these people be? For starters, someone who knows you at your most recent employer (or current one, if you're still working there). The person should be familiar with your work habits and contributions you have made. Preferably this would be someone you have reported to directly. Otherwise it could be a co-worker at the same level as you, or someone in another department within the same organization.

You may also want a letter from someone who knows you from the job you held before this one. The idea is for you to show employers you're currently interviewing with that you have made a positive impression in more than one employment situation.

What if you have a short work history such as if you are recently out of school? Try to get a reference letter from someone you worked with at a summer job, a part-time job you held during the school year, or a work-term you took part in (for instance, a co-op semester at a place of employment). You can also ask a teacher or professor to endorse you in a letter. As well, you can approach a family member or a family friend for a personal reference letter.

What A Reference Letter Should Contain

Your goal is to impress potential employers by having your references write about how responsible you are, how hard you work, how well you get along with others, how you take on leadership roles.

Note that it is helpful to have the content written by your reference on their organization's letterhead. It gives things a more professional look. That, combined with the words of praise about you contained in the document, make for a powerful letter of reference.required, how you show up on time and can be relied on.

The following is a sample letter of reference written for Marco Graziano, a fictional employee:

Sunnyview Manufacturing Inc.
235 Morning Glory Drive
Calgary, Alberta
J7B 2P9

Juliana Akunda                                                                                           May 12 2009
Director of Logistics
413-387-6903 ext. 243

To Whom It May Concern:

I had the pleasure of working with Marco Graziano for the past 15 months here at Sunnyview Manufacturing. Marco reported to me directly in his role as Assistant Manager, Transportation Logistics.

During this time I knew Marco to be a reliable, committed employee. He worked well on his own and was always a supportive team player. Marco delivered his reports to management in a timely, accurate manner.

One of Marco's outstanding skills is his ability to deliver impactful presentations to an audience of senior employees. He prepares his material flawlessly and is able to convey his ideas in writing, by using PowerPoint, and through his excellent oral delivery skills.

I would highly recommend Marco for any job that requires the analysis of numbers, preparation of reports, and related matters. His upbeat style definitely added to our department.