Reference request letter template

A template letter for a prospective employer to ask for a reference. Free to use.

You can copy and paste the template text into an email or document.

Before you approach the referee, you need to have:

  • made a conditional job offer to the applicant
  • permission from the applicant – you should have made this clear on the application form
  • made it clear at the job application stage whether you are looking for a work or a character reference

Be aware that the referee does not need to provide any information. Only ask for the information you need – some reference givers may be very busy and might not have the time to provide a lot of detail.

If you work with vulnerable people or in some industries like the financial sector, there are specific rules when providing references. You should not use this template to request these references.

Find out more about providing a job reference


[Your name]

[Employer name and address]

[Today's date]

Dear [Referee's name]

RE: [Applicant's name]

The person named above has applied for the position of [job title]. They have given your name as a referee.

I would be grateful if you could fill in the following details, so I can assess whether the applicant is suitable for this position:

[Use option A, B or C.]

[Option A: basic work reference]

  • Position held at your organisation:
  • Dates of employment:

[Option B: detailed work reference]

  • Position held at your organisation:
  • Dates of employment:
  • Main duties held:
  • Salary:
  • Sickness or absence record – do not include absences related to disability or to parental rights, for example maternity leave:
  • Any current, relevant disciplinary records:
  • Reason for leaving job:

[Option C: character reference]

  • Your relationship to the applicant:
  • How long you've known them:
  • Comment on character, strengths and weaknesses:
  • Suitability for the new role:

Please also include any other relevant additional comments you have about the employee. To return the reference, please [reply to this email address / use the enclosed stamped addressed envelope].

Thank you for taking the time to reply. The information you provide will be kept strictly confidential.

Yours sincerely 

[Your name]

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