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How to Use a Former Supervisor As a Reference

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Former supervisors can provide helpful and insightful information to prospective employers because they have dealt with you on a personal and professional level. Your former supervisor's familiarity with your work makes him the go-to resource for a prospective employer to find out more about your knowledge, skills, character and professionalism. Simply providing the name and contact information of a former supervisor on a job application isn't enough. Instead, you need to do some legwork first so that you can be sure the supervisor will provide a favorable reference to anyone who asks.

Sign a consent form, if the company you worked for requires it, so that your supervisor can be a reference on your behalf.

Speak to your supervisor and ask him if he would be willing to be a reference for you. Inform him that you want to provide names of people who can speak favorably on your behalf and ask him if he is willing to do so. This will give him a chance to say if he's comfortable giving you a positive reference.

Confirm her contact information including full name, title, address and contact number so that you can provide accurate information to prospective employers.

Give your former supervisor a copy of your resume so that he can refresh his memory about your experience and skills. Tell him about the jobs you have applied for so he can think about what he's going to say when a prospective employer calls him for a reference.

Thank your former supervisor for her willingness to provide a reference for you. Follow up with a written thank-you note to express your gratitude for her time and effort.


If your former supervisor tells you he isn't comfortable giving you a favorable reference, ask him to explain. Try to negotiate with him if you must include the reference. For instance ask him if he can at least confirm your dates of employment and answer whether or not you're eligible for rehire. Just because he has reservations about you doesn't mean he wouldn't rehire you.


Never use a former supervisor as a reference without asking permission first.