I recently gave my two weeks notice to my current employer. The company would be considered a large corporation. They thought enough of me to provide a counter offer which I just politely, and professionally declined. So I take it that my work is valued. I was advised to ask for a letter of recommendation by a friend and I did so. However, my current boss advised that it is his impression that it is company policy not to provide a letter of recommendation. He is supposed to check with HR and get back to me.

I was wondering what the general consensus is on asking for and expecting a letter of recommendation.

pmoriarty's picture
Training Badge

Many US companies have an HR policy that prohibits letters of recommendation or even acting as a reference for a former employee. (Yes, I am aware that this is widely ignored.)

As a hiring manager, I don't place much value on a letter of recommendation. If it's not glowing, why would you give it to a potential employer? I get much more value out of asking probing, open-ended questions of your references, former colleagues, and managers.

TylerDerden's picture


Thank you for your feedback. I have built a substantial reputation with my current company and I was looking for a way to take some of that with me to my new employer. The more people that say good things about you can only help. At least that’s my opinion. Sounds like I should just make a clean break with my current employer.

TomW's picture
Training Badge

I think another approach would be to ask your supervisor if he would be willing to be a reference in the future.

He might be able to vocalize things he cannot put in writing.

TylerDerden's picture


Yes, he did say he was willing to be used as a reference. Which I appreciate, except part of the reason I’m leaving is his lack of ethics. That’s why I was persistent on the letter of recommendation. I think I’ll just let this go and move on.

Thank you for your feedback.

arun's picture

Generally letters of recommendation are not given. Companies dont want to put anything in writing which might come back to bite them at a later stage.

In my experience a lot of companies do agree to provide verbal references. Some supervisors provide personal references if the company is unwilling.

Most employers/agencies like to get a verbal ref even when a written one is available to the extent of calling overseas employers of new migrants!

Hope this helps. Good luck

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

A recommendation letter is not only unnecessary but will go either unread or enormously discounted. Your friend is mistaken, and using antiquated ideas about modern talent markets.

Let it go.


wendii's picture
Admin Role Badge


at the risk of looking like I waited for Mark (!), it was pointed out to me when I was a very young recruiter, that references, even on headed notepaper could be faked, and therefore weren't worth even the paper they were written on.

If someone gives me a reference during an interview, I politely copy it and then recycle!


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge


Wendii doesn't need to wait for me. She's right a lot.


Torch's picture

I have been gathering letters from the people I reported to because of the turmoil in my department. I have reported to seven (yes 7) people in the last two years. I don't know if it will be helpful, but it gives me a overarching picture of my work throughout my time in my role.