If you’re looking for a nursing job, some employers may ask that you submit a reference letter with your application. Reference letters are written by someone you know – ideally a supervisor or teacher – who can speak to your work ethic, qualifications, and skills. Employers use reference letters to get a glimpse into your character and experience. Think of it as a recommendation – from someone in your circle to a potential employer – that you’re a good fit for the job.
If you’re not sure how to ask for a reference letter, remember that your mentors are probably used to writing them. After all, it’s part of their job – and most will be more than happy to help you. Keep in mind, though, who and how you ask is important.
Here are 4 tips for asking for a nursing reference letter:
1. Ask someone you know well.
Ideally, you want the person who writes your reference letter to be familiar with your work history, skillset, and unique strengths as a nurse. Employers can tell the difference between a genuine letter from a close mentor and a generic letter from a distant acquaintance.
2. Ask in person.
Avoid sending a casual text or email with your request. Instead, ask for the reference letter in person and follow up after your initial conversation. This will keep both you and your reference on the same page and ensure the letter’s finished on time. Plus, they’ll appreciate that you took the time to approach them in person.
3. Get specific.
Explain to your reference why you want them specifically to write the letter. Have they watched you grow from a new grad to an accomplished nurse? Have they mentored you through any challenging experiences? It’ll be easier for them to write a compelling letter if they understand exactly why you’ve chosen them to vouch for you.
4. Keep it short and sweet.
Ask that your reference to keep their letter to one page. Employers can get a good sense of your qualifications with a single page letter – and most won’t bother to read more than that anyways. If your reference is okay with it, you may want to review the letter yourself to make sure it’s strong and concise.
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