Employers sometimes ask for letters of recommendation from people who know the candidates. Letters of recommendation can be requested as part of the initial application package or as a final step in selecting a candidate for a position.
Organizations that ask for letters of recommendation typically ask for two or three of these letters, in order to get a better idea of the candidate and make sure they are a good fit for the company.
Gather the information to write the letter
If someone asks you to write a recommendation letter, the first step is to gather information about the position they're looking for.
Request a copy of the job posting. If she wants a more general recommendation letter, ask for the type of job she's looking for.
You must have the specific job offer or knowledge of the type of job sought, as the most successful letters of recommendation will make a clear link between the abilities, skills and qualities that the applicant has previously demonstrated employment and those required in the free post.
Good letters of recommendation are neither vague nor general. They specifically identify what the person has done well with an eye on what they can continue to do well.
You should also request a copy of the job seeker's CV. If you are not the immediate supervisor, you need to know how his career has developed. She might be highlighting very different areas of what she's played for you.
You might have supervised the job seeker as an associate in social media, for example. His duties included monitoring analytics, reviewing competitor sites, and developing content. If she has since been promoted to analytics, she may be focusing on this area. Ideally, you would like to have a specific example or examples of his performance in analytics, in addition to comments on his qualities and skills.
If you have access to relevant performance reviews, they can be helpful in writing the letter, as they will reference the job seeker's key accomplishments, skills, and qualities.
What to cover
Letters of recommendation should cover the following information:
- How do you know the person: Open by briefly mentioning how you know the person. Include your specific title, the job seeker's specific title at the time and included years she worked for you.
- The skills and abilities of the job seeker: State the skills demonstrated and the abilities you have seen. Were they good at analyzing the data? Have they demonstrated multitasking ability?
- Specific examples: Once you've covered the skills and abilities, give at least one specific example of an achievement they've accomplished. This must be related explicitly or implicitly to the job they are looking for.
- The qualities of the job seeker: Mention the specific qualities demonstrated by the job seeker. It can range from commitment to being a good team player.
- Indicate if you are hiring the person again: If you want to hire the person again, mention it. This is valuable information for potential employers.
- Your contact details: The interviewing agency may wish to contact you to discuss the letter in more detail. Provide full current contact information.
A letter of recommendation should be about three to four paragraphs long. The standard is roughly one page.
Shorter, and this could be taken as a sign that you don't know the job seeker very well or that you don't have enough positive information.
This is an official trade document. It should be printed on your current company letterhead and dated, and you should sign it.
Use a standard professional font, like Arial or Times New Roman. Margins should be 1 inch on the sides and bottom.
If you have been asked to send it electronically, PDF the copy on your letterhead and submit as per instructions specified either by the job seeker or by the information on the job posting.
What to do if you can't give a positive recommendation
Sometimes you might be asked for a recommendation letter and you think you can't write a positive recommendation. The reasons could range from not working closely with the person or having issues with their performance.
It's best to tactfully tell the person that you are not the best person to write a letter of recommendation. Suggest that they contact someone who can talk in more detail about their job performance.
Sample letter of recommendation
Let's see the recommendation letter tips in action. Here's an example, using all of the above information:
July 6, 2017
Vice President, Social Media
456 New Media Circle
Palo Alto, California 94301
Dear Mr. Donaldson,
I am writing to recommend Ashley Jones for the position of Social Media Manager at Your Company.
Ashley and I worked together at The Former Company. I was Social Media Manager at The Former Company from 2012 to 2016. Ashley, as a Social Media Associate, reported directly to me as part of a team of four.
I enjoyed working with Ashley and think she would be a great asset to your team. She is creative, thorough and reliable. She's a proactive problem-solving solution fully aware of the changing social media landscape. Even so, Ashley was able to strategically think about how our social media campaigns could stay ahead of our competition.
As a social media associate, Ashley developed a Pinterest campaign for The Former Company. We had no presence on Pinterest at the time. Ashley developed and pitched an awesome campaign idea to senior management and executed it. Our leads generated from Pinterest reached 12% in the first year of Ashley's campaign. His ideas have greatly contributed to his success.
In addition to her creative and execution talent, Ashley is an excellent collaborator and team player. Her colleagues enjoy working with her.
I would hire her again without hesitation.
I highly recommend Ashley for your team at Your Company. She would be an asset to any social media department.
Please contact me at 223-678-9101 if you would like more information or to further discuss Ashley's experience.
The letters of recommendation mention the abilities, skills and qualities that the job seeker has demonstrated in the past, both in general and with specific examples. Use the example above as a general template for the type of responses letters of recommendation give.
Hopefully the person you're writing the letter to land their dream job. You can be proud to know that you played a part in their successful job search.
p.s. Resumonk helps you create a beautiful CV and cover letter in minutes. Stand out from the crowd and increase your chances of landing the job of your dreams.