References can play a critical role in helping you gain a new employment. Even if you already have a new job waiting for you when you resign, it’s still valuable to seek out a letter of reference before leaving. No one can predict what might happen in the future, and many people find themselves on the market for a new job long before they planned.
In addition to any letter from your boss, you might also seek out individuals, including other superiors or professional colleagues who are affiliated with the job you are leaving, who might be willing to provide positive information about you in the future. This will give you an opportunity to maintain your professional contacts as well.
Approaching your boss
Of course, the first person to approach after you’ve resigned, but before you have left your old company, is your boss, asking whether he or she would be willing to write a letter of recommendation or serve as a reference for future job searches. Accomplishing this before you leave paves the way for future employment. It also gives you an indication of the type of reference you are likely to receive from your boss.
Other possible references
If your boss in any way hesitates at your request, you know you’ve got a problem. Don’t push the issue. Drop it. Look for someone who would be more helpful, who appreciates your job performance and skills, and can provide a good reference without hesitation.
Who might that be, if it won’t be your boss? If you’ve had a good working relationship with someone else at your company on your boss’s level or his or her superior, approach that person. Also consider clients and other individuals outside your company (but connected to your work) who might also serve as a positive references for you.
Counter-balancing a negative reaction
In all likelihood, you will still need to list your boss on future applications. And this doesn’t mean your boss is guaranteed to give you a bad reference. Often negative feelings dissipate over time. However, it also enables you to prepare some counter-balances should your boss speak less than favorably about you than you would like.
Although it is illegal for your old boss to disparage you, this law is difficult (if not impossible) to enforce. In addition, those who interview job candidates can read between the lines of what isn’t being said on your behalf.
In short, if your boss won’t agree to provide a good reference, don’t panic. Prepare instead. In all likelihood, you’ll have little problem finding a great reference somewhere within your former workplace.