How to ask your current boss for a reference (without getting fired)
It’s okay to be nervous about the prospect of having to ask your current employer to write you a reference (and a good one). Though your boss may be surprised or even express displeasure at first, it’s likely because they automatically assume you’re planning to migrate to another company. But there are other reasons why you may be seeking a recommendation from them, so before you ask for the reference, always be clear about the situation with them, even if the reason is because you’re interviewing for a new position. Here’s how to make your request successfully and in a way that will not result in your instant dismissal:
- If you’re considering volunteering
While most volunteering schemes do not ask for references from your workplace, causes which cater to the needs of vulnerable or critical populaces do require specific skills or involve national security (armed volunteer forces), will likely ask for professional references. This is to verify that you indeed possess the necessary qualifications required to efficiently furnish your duties. Approaching your superior with this angle will put you in their good books as you are using your personal time to contribute to society. They will likely be more than happy to recommend you as an ideal candidate for a noble cause.
- If you’re applying for awards or scholarships
If you’re putting forward your name for an award in your field of work or for scholarships from external organisations, you will be asked for references from people who can vouch for your abilities. If your selected list of referees are experts in the categories you are applying for, this will help boost your application in the eyes of the judging panel. Seek their advice on how to make your body of work, be it an essay, or a comprehensive review of your entire career, stand out.
- If you’re enrolling in part-time or professional courses in university
In a manner similar to admission processes for full-time courses, applications for part-time or professional courses at universities often require you to provide endorsements from people you have worked with. Who better to ask than your current boss? Chances are they will be impressed by the efforts you’re making to upskill, and will happily write you a glowing reference so that you can go forth and pursue more knowledge.
- If you really are looking for a new job
If you’ve been considering a move to another company, and share a good working relationship with your immediate supervisor, confide in them. Though it will likely feel difficult, it’s best to be upfront and honest about your plans, whether you intend to relocate to another job or are simply on the lookout for better options. If this person has previously mentored you or has worked alongside you for projects, their testimony would matter the most to potential employers. Reassure them that you are not going to be lax on your current projects or duties, and ask if they would be willing to be one of your references. If they say yes, check with them about how and when they would like to be contacted, brief them on what questions they are likely to be asked by the recruiter, and thank them for putting their credibility on the line for you.