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Guidelines : Requesting

Requesting References

Guidelines and Alternate Phrases

  • Mention the reason for your request for reference.
  • Would you do me the favor of supplying a reference?
  • May I ask a favor? I need a reference letter covering the period I worked for your organization (May 19– to September 19–).
  • I’m considering an engineering position with Dalton Services and need a reference letter about my work with your organization.
  • Dalton Services, an engineering firm in Atlanta, is considering me for an accounting position, and I’m writing to ask you for a letter of reference.
  • Recall the dates of previous employment, if applicable, so the reader can immediately check past records.
  • Overview the new job responsibilities so the reader can comment appropriately about experience, skills, or personal qualities that would make you (or the individual you’re inquiring about) successful. The more specific you can be in your request, the more appropriately the recipient can focus on the job in question.
  • The job will require the ability to get along well with people and an even temperament in handling dissatisfied customers.
  • The job will require travel and flexibility in week-to-week scheduling.
  • Attention to detail and punctuality, as you can imagine, will be extremely important in such a job.
  • Tenacity and determination are key ingredients for the successful person who accepts this position.
  • Extensive knowledge of desktop publishing packages is a real plus in the job.
  • As with many jobs, sound judgment and the ability to make quick decisions will be qualities uppermost in the prospective employer’s mind when filling this position.
  • Communication skills–both verbal and written–will be of utmost importance in this particular assignment.
  • My extensive experience in sales will certainly come in handy as a springboard for this managerial job.
  • Although this may sound trite, the prospective employer is looking for someone who really cares about doing a good job–who cares as much as if the business were his or her own to run.
  • Extensive computer experience is a must in the new job, along with the natural curiosity that spurs one to continue to look for ways to improve the current program or process.
  • The job will require excellent communication skills.
  • I’d appreciate your offering an opinion on my management philosophy and the way I interacted with senior management to “sell” our departmental ideas.
  • Punctuality, dependability, and a pleasing disposition are of prime importance in this job. In your opinion, does John have these attributes?
  • We expect the person we hire to have good analytical skills and to be self-motivated on long-term projects.
  • Assure the reader of confidentiality if you are asking for a reference on a prospective employee.
  • Of course, we appreciate your frankness and will hold the information in confidence.
  • We can assure you your opinions will be kept confidential.
  • This information, of course, will be only for our own use.
  • Thank the reader for her efforts. Remember this request, often considered a personal rather than business matter, takes time away (from your reader) from other more important tasks.
  • Thank you for your trouble.
  • Thank you for providing this help. We’ll be happy to return the favor for you if we are ever in a position to do so.
  • Please let us know when we can provide you with a similar reference.
  • John, please know how very much I appreciate your giving this reference for me. I want this job very much.
  • Thank you so much for your help in this way.
  • I appreciate your time in doing this favor.
  • I appreciate so much your help in securing this position.
  • Thank you for helping me land this new assignment.
  • This job will mean a great deal to me. Thank you for helping with this reference.
  • Thank you for your comments; they will be highly beneficial as we try to match the position with the most suitable candidate.
  • I appreciate your honesty in helping us determine how successful and happy Bob would be in this job.
  • My thanks for writing on my behalf.

Example 1: Sample request for recommendation letter

Company Name or Letterhead
City, State Zip


City, State Zip

Dear Mr. Davenport:

I’m currently seeking employment with Bledson Healthcare Services and need a letter of reference from you. If you recall, while employed by your firm, I worked on long-term assignments with elderly patients (Ms. Elma Scott and Mr. Todd Forenzon) from March 19– to April of 19–.

This new job will require experience and temperament quite similar to that I had with your organization. I’ll be administrator for all nursing services provided to home-bound patients. As administrator, I’ll need to evaluate what the individual can do for himself or herself and what kinds of services the situation warrants. Then, I’ll match nurse to patient according to personalities. The job will require interaction with the public (family members and those of the medical community) and extensive knowledge about government-assisted medical aid and all the administrative paperwork required by law. Finally, the job requires someone who can work alone with very little supervision because Bledson’s headquarters are in Atlanta.

If you can comment on my experience in getting along with both patients and family members, my self-motivation, and my attention to the detail and the technicalities of the medical and legal fields, that should give my prospective employer great insight into how successful I might be in this new job. Thank you for taking the time to prepare this reference. The job means a great deal to me.


Example 2: Requesting recommendation letters

Company Name or Letterhead
City, State Zip


City, State Zip

Dear Mr. Murphy:

Ms. Carol Meyers, one of your former engineers, has applied for an engineering position in our Atlanta office and has given your name as a reference.

Would you be so kind as to complete the attached form, commenting on her ability to work with little supervision, and her ability and willingness to work under pressure with sometimes short deadlines?

Of course, we will hold your comments in the strictest confidence. If you’d rather respond by phone, please call me collect at 123-456-6789. Thank you for any help you can give.


Example 3: Requesting letter for character references

Company Name or Letterhead
City, State Zip


City, State Zip

Dear Mr. Tartar:

Our conference has been asked to prepare the required character report on Ralph Schell, a member of the bars of New York and Pennsylvania, who is now applying for admission to the bar of Texas.

We wish to verify the positions Mr. Schell has held as vice president and general counsel with your organization. We also will appreciate any facts and opinions concerning Mr. Schell’s qualifications for being admitted to the Texas bar.

Thank you for your assistance in verifying the information supplied to us by Mr. Schell.


Example 4: Letter for requesting references

Company Name or Letterhead
City, State Zip


City, State Zip

Dear Fred:

I have recently applied for a consulting position with Barker Management Consultants and am hoping to begin developing some performance-appraisal video programs and some negotiation-skills packages.

Would you please write a letter of reference for me about the work I did while under your supervision (June 19– to August 19–)?

Let me outline briefly what the new job entails so you can comment appropriately on those qualities and skills that will have a bearing on my new situation. In this position I’ll be interacting with clients to analyze their needs and then turning my research into a training product. Additionally, I’ll have to work well both independently and also with several team members to coordinate the video and print components of the packages. Finally, my organizational skills will be of paramount importance in writing these programs.

Thank you for taking the time from your always busy schedule to help me in this way. I will appreciate it most sincerely.


Example 5: Requesting reference letters





SUBJECT: Reference Request for Sales Rep Transfer

As I mentioned to you during our phone conversation last month, I have had my eye open for a sales job for some time. At last, I have had the opportunity to interview with Martin Waggoner for such an opening in the western division and have given your name as a reference.

Should he contact you about previous work under your supervision (February 19– to June 19–), I’d appreciate any comments you can make about my interpersonal skills in dealing with customers there in the office and about my product knowledge gained in relaying such information from headquarters to field personnel. The sales rep job, of course, heavily depends on skills in these areas, as well as initiative and organizational ability in handling a larger territory.

Thanks so much for any help you can give in arranging this transfer.


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