How to ask your current manager for a reference
There comes a point in your job search when you will be asked to provide references for your potential future employer. These are used to confirm the work experience you have outlined in your resume and career highlights you have spoken about throughout the interview process. It’s important you provide relevant and credible referees who know you well and will speak positively and truthfully of you as an employee. It is also important that you ask their permission first, tell them about the job you are applying to and why.
Many employers have a policy that one of your referees must be your current manager. Approaching them to ask for a reference check is important but also (and understandably) might feel uncomfortable. That is why we’ve outlined our top tips below to help you through this.
Be direct and respectful - Don’t beat around the bush or be vague about what you need.
Let your manager know that you are ready to expand your skills and that you feel this new job opportunity will assist in getting you to the next level of your career. Highlight the drawcards of the new role and why you believe this is a good move for you. Make sure that while asking for the reference you let them know that you’ve enjoyed your current role and appreciate all of the support they have given you during your time there. Also, be careful that they don’t mistake your request for a reference as a resignation!
Be open to your manager's response - There is no way to predict how your employer will respond to your request for a reference. Your employer may not want to lose you, and could offer you additional responsibilities or another opportunity within the organisation to entice you to stay. Listen to what they have to say and consider the offer alongside others. It could be an opportunity to expand your skills and progress your career without making a big move.
But what if you don’t see eye to eye? Just because you don’t get on with your manager doesn’t mean they won’t provide a positive and balanced reference check. Without asking them, you’ll never know. Again, be direct, respectful and honest when you approach them.
Lastly, don’t feel bad about it. Many of us will feel a range of emotions when looking to leave our current roles. While it’s understandable you may feel guilty it’s important to remember your needs and your career development. You need to do what is best for you, and at some point that will mean moving on. Your manager does not expect you to stay with the organisation forever. As long as you work hard, and are committed while you are working there, you have no reason to feel bad.