5 Steps to Get the Perfect Letter of Recommendation

Right now you might be like most people - going through the job search and application process with just a standard resume and feeling very rejected and maybe a little hopeless.  Your job application gets much stronger when your resume is accompanied by a letter of recommendation. I’m sure you know this but you might not have made the effort to get a letter of recommendation. So how do you get the perfect one? You write it.  What?!  Yes, you write it.  Let me explain.

Here are the 5 simple steps to follow to make this happen:

1.    Carefully consider who would be the best person to ask for a letter of recommendation.  Think about who would impress the recruiter and hiring manager most and who will be willing to advocate for you.  This is ideally someone you have reported to in some sense such as a boss or teacher. 

2.    Email that person and ask them if they’d be willing to provide you a letter of recommendation.  Let them know that you know how busy they are so to make it easy you’d provide them with a draft version that they can edit and sign off on.

3.    Assuming they say yes, now you can write a draft version of the letter of recommendation.  The reason why you write it is you have the time (most senior people barely have time for a bathroom break and typically have 100+ unread emails in their inbox at any time!)  Plus, you know exactly what you want said about yourself as it relates to past performance and to the position you are applying for.  Focus on results and impact from previous roles and anything that relates to the position you’re interested in. Also highlight attractive intangible skills like work ethic, team work, problem solving, leadership, etc. Think about which skills you have and what the position / company will want and choose the right ones to highlight. 

4.    When your draft is ready, send them the document in word format so they can make any edits to it and ideally put it on company letterhead.  Ask them to add their contact info to the bottom. It would actually be smart to send them two versions of the document – one for the specific position you are going after and one that’s more general that you could use in the future if needed.

5.    Ask them to save the document(s) as a pdf so they are noted as the author of the file, send it to you, and you are good to go! 

This letter of recommendation should go in your portfolio with your other documents.  Not sure what a portfolio is?  If you have only been applying for jobs with a resume and bringing just that to an interview, it’s time to step up your game.  Check out my online course to learn how and until next time …follow me on Twitter at @MadeToHire, Instagram, and on Facebook. 

p.s. Here’s a sample letter of recommendation to help you craft yours!

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Merryn Roberts-Huntley