How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

If you’re interviewing for a job, you probably know you can expect to be asked for a list of references. It’s a standard practice you’ve seen on just about every job application you’ve ever filled out. But just because it’s a repetitive part of the process doesn’t mean you have to keep submitting the same old boilerplate list of references you put together. If you’re looking to take it a step further and really elevate yourself above the competition, a professional letter of recommendation is what you need.

While it’s uncommon that an employer will explicitly request a letter of recommendation (most just ask for references), that doesn’t mean they can’t be useful. Quite the opposite – a letter of recommendation can provide a hiring manager with a better sense of your skills than the quick run-down they’d otherwise hear from HR about your dates of employment.

The power of a solid letter of recommendation is a no-brainer – but how do you ask for one? Use the tips below to make the process as smooth as possible and to ensure you’re doing your part to get the most out of any recommendation letter.

 

Before You Ask: What to Consider

There are a few prerequisites you need to cover before asking for a letter of recommendation. The following points are essential to any chance of receiving a quality recommendation letter:

1: You actually know who you’re asking

It might seem obvious that you should know the person you’re asking to write you a letter of recommendation, but it’s a common mistake to think you can ask anyone as long as they were your professor, boss, or supervisor. Such is not the case: the purpose of the letter is to provide valuable insight into who you are and the value you can bring to an organization. The professor you had all year but never spoke to or the boss you never saw much of in the workplace aren’t the right people for the job.

2: You have a positive history and relationship with the person whom you’re asking

Maybe the supervisor or professor you’re thinking of asking knows you quite well, but it’s because you constantly asked for deadline extensions or had a habit of being late. You want to make sure that you have good standing with whoever you choose to ask – avoid asking someone who may have a reason not to give you their full stamp of approval.

3: The person you ask is relevant to the position you’re applying to

If you’re applying for a management role, select someone who observed your management skills firsthand. Whomever you ask should be able to speak to your skills in a way that’s relevant to the job you’re seeking.

 

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

Once these basics have been covered, it’s time to learn how to successfully ask for the letter of recommendation. Below are some tips:

Know the Purpose of the Letter

You want to make the letter writing process as easy as possible for the person you’re asking, and this starts with letting them know the letter’s purpose. This helps them determine what parts of your experience they should focus on, as well as what can be left out. If you don’t go into detail about what the letter is for and what parts of your history are the most relevant, you might end up with a vague letter that doesn’t serve its purpose: to help you stand out!

Who is the Letter For?

Don’t forget to tell the person writing your letter who will be reading it. Besides helping with practical details such as who they should address the letter to, this information guides the style and tone they use. Knowing their audience informs how they describe their experiences with you, as well as the specific details they use.

Include Your Resume

You want to give the person writing your letter of recommendation as much information as you can to help them write a quality letter. One way to do this is by highlighting the skills and experiences on your resume that are most relevant to the job you’re applying. This gives them specific information to work with and ensures they aren’t left grasping when they sit down to write the letter.

Don’t Wait to Ask

If you planned on asking someone for a letter of recommendation for the job application that’s due in a week, don’t. Besides being unprofessional, it lowers the chances that you’ll end up with a high-quality letter. Even if they did bend over to get you a letter on short notice, it’s quality may be sacrificed. You wouldn’t want your job application tied to a hastily written reference letter. Asking someone to write you a letter of recommendation is a big favor – it’s your responsibility to make it as easy as possible for them.

Asking for a letter of recommendation can feel intimidating. But by taking the time to follow the steps above, you can feel confident knowing you’ve covered the most important bases when you reach out and make that request!

 

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Turn to the professionals at ResumeSpice. We are the #1 rated resume writing and career coaching service on the independent review site TrustPilot. Read hundreds of our 5 star reviews here. If you’re ready to learn more, call 832.930.7378 or contact us online.

 

How to Receive Negative Feedback Graciously

Rejection stings. Especially in the job search and even more so when you know you’re a good fit for a role.

When a recruiter or a hiring manager gives you negative feedback on your resume or interview, your first instinct may be to reply defensively. Instead…

Stop. Wait. Breathe.

Learning to accept feedback graciously is a skill that will benefit you throughout your career. As anyone who has ever applied to a job knows, most times you don’t receive feedback on why you weren’t considered or interviewed for a role.

When you do receive an explanation, accept it as a gift. Consider what was said – after you’ve had a chance to meditate, drink a latte, shoot some hoops, or do whatever makes you happy and helps clear your mind.

Think carefully about the following:

• Is this feedback part of a theme? Does it sound similar to past advice from supervisors, coworkers, and/or potential employers?
• Is there something you can take from it to further improve on the content of your resume and/or your interviewing skills?
• If it’s based upon a misconception of your experience, is there a way to professionally respond and highlight an achievement in that area?

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, the answer is no. When that happens, the best way to respond to the related feedback is, “Thank you for taking the time to share this with me. I appreciate the opportunity to be considered and wish you the very best.”

Whether you do or not is entirely up to you, but this is how you build a reputation for professionalism while leaving the door open for future opportunities.

Of course, if you need help in any area of career coaching, resume writing, and/or interviewing skills, don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced team of ResumeSpice career consultants!

How to Reach out to a Recruiter on LinkedIn

Recruiters are in the business of matching great candidates with open roles, but connecting with one over LinkedIn can be a challenge. The reality is, most recruiters are inundated with LinkedIn messages from job seekers. The best way to ensure a response is by sending a message that’s targeted, relevant, and well-written.

Many recruiters within larger companies and in recruiting firms specialize in a particular area, such as technology, industrial, or administrative. Before contacting a recruiter, make sure they cover your geographical market, industry, and role type.

Never send a message that only says, “Do you have any roles for me?” with no accompanying information. Instead, be clear about the roles you are considering. Here’s an example of a message accompanying a LinkedIn connection request:

—-

Dear Alex,

I currently work for Surprise Inside Boxing Company as a Distribution Manager. I have eight years of experience improving processes, leading cross-functional teams, and cutting costs across operations. In 2018, I virtually eliminated accidents within the warehouse by developing and leading safety training for 27 team members.

For my next challenge, I am seeking a Warehouse or Operations Manager role in a fast-paced, high-production facility. I would love to schedule a time to discuss opportunities you may be working on. My schedule is flexible on Wednesday and I’m available any time after 2 p.m. on Thursday. If neither of those times work, I’m happy to schedule a time that is more convenient for you.

I look forward to speaking with you!

Sincerely,

Taylor
Phone
Email

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It’s also a great idea to research the recruiter’s open roles either on LinkedIn or their company website to determine ahead of time which ones would best suit your background and skillset. Be focused and selective. If a particular role interests you, feel free to link to it in your message.

Even if you don’t see a role that meets your criteria (or vice versa), but the recruiter seems to be a good fit, you can introduce yourself and offer to be a resource as you continue your search. If you see a role that would be a great match for a friend or colleague, refer them! Not only is that genuinely helpful to both parties, but paying it forward is a great way to build goodwill with a recruiter.

P.S. – Don’t forget to visit the ResumeSpice list of top recruiters in the U.S. to find a recruiting firm in your area!

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