If you’ve been in an internship or held a job, then you might want to ask your supervisor or employer to write a letter of reference for you. A letter of reference is almost like a recommendation letter that could boost your job application. Think of it as a supplementary material that provides a third party opinion of your strengths as a professional. Some companies require you to submit letters of reference as part of your application. Below are tips for asking letters of reference.

Ask weeks before your job/internship ends

For people who are starting early in their career fields, it’s better to ask for letters of reference before the end of their internship or job term. Once you leave the company, it will be harder to get a hold of your employer or supervisor and it may be harder for them to remember all of your accomplishments. Plan beforehand and ask for letters at least a month before your work term ends.

Tell them about the jobs/positions you’ll be using the letter

If you have a list of specific jobs and positions you’ll be applying, make sure you mention them to the person you’re asking for reference. They will have a better idea of the skills and strengths that they should focus on the letter. However, if you do not have anything specific in mind, then tell them to make it general.

Remind them to mention specific examples/projects

While some employers and supervisors will remember everything that you contributed during your time at the company, some won’t. It is okay to remind them about some of the projects you’ve worked on and ask them to mention examples that reflect your work ethic. If the letter of reference is too general, the recruiter won’t be impressed by it.

Letters of reference are another way for recruiters to get to know you through the eyes of someone who has actually employed you. It is important to ask for them weeks before you time in the company ends so whoever is writing the letter has the freshest memory of your work style. Finally, make sure to ask for the letter only if you know it will benefit your application. Depending on how your employer or supervisor perceived you throughout your time there, you should decide whether asking for reference will boost or hurt your chances.