Is a Personalized Letter of Recommendation Beneficial?

References are one of the best ways for employers to understand the character and skills of job applicants. While listing contact information for references on your resume is useful, there are many benefits of using a personalized letter of recommendation instead. In many ways, the right letter of reference could be the key to getting the job of your dreams

Benefits of a Professional Reference Letter

When a company looks to hire someone, they often receive many applications and resumes. If there is anything you can do to make your resume stand out, you need to do it! A professional reference letter is a great way for an employer to notice you. It also saves them a phone call or any difficulties contacting someone listed as a reference. In many cases, hiring managers do not have the time to call every applicant’s references, so this ensures they see a job reference that vouches for you. Not only that, but you also get to know exactly what your reference says about you. If you ever worry that the references on your resume won’t offer the most relevant information or might not share what you hope they will, asking for a professional reference letter can help them know what is important to you. 

Who Should You Ask?

One of the most important things to decide when seeking a personalized letter of recommendation is who to ask. When you are considering people, make sure you look for someone who knows you well enough to write something personal. This could be a former coworker, employer, teacher, professor, or someone you have worked with closely. This person should be able to say something about your work ethic, personality, and character. People you should not ask to write you a letter of reference are people like parents, siblings, cousins, friends who you have not worked with, or people you do not know. If you ask a family member to write your recommendation, they might seem biased or not knowledgeable about your work. Choose people who have influenced you, who know about your past successes, and who can share important things about you. This makes a difference!

Different References Share Different Experiences

If you are intending to ask someone for a reference letter, ask more than one person. Different people will share different aspects of your work and character, so seeking out varying perspectives can only benefit you. Most employers look for a letter from someone who managed or supervised you, such as a coworker, and perhaps a teacher or other character witness. If you can get a letter from someone who directly supervised you, they would be the best reference for a new job. One of the reasons why letters of recommendation can be difficult to get is that sometimes you don’t want the people at your current job to know you are looking elsewhere, and hiring managers understand that. However, if you are moving or leaving the company for another reason, take advantage of that time to ask for a personalized letter of recommendation. 

What Should You Ask For?

When you ask someone for a personalized letter of recommendation, they might ask you what you want them to put down. There are several things you can ask for that will impress hiring managers. Letters of recommendation should include: 

  • The name, job title, and contact information of the person writing the recommendation.
  • Your full name and reference to the job title you held when you worked with the person writing the recommendation. 
  • How long the person has known you? This shows consistency and also relevance to your current job and title. 
  • Whatever the person would like to share about your work, character, and any other relevant information, like awards. They can also share personal stories that highlight times they recognized these characteristics in you.
  • They should share what sets you apart from other candidates. If they hired you, why did they do that? Things like this are very useful. 
  • The person should sign the letter as well. 

This is not a complete list. For certain fields, hiring managers want to know about specialized work. For example, if you are a programmer, your job reference can share that you are a specialist in coding languages and how you used them at your former job. Noting any special skills is a great way to highlight your individual quality. 

Your Resume

When seeking letters of recommendation, make sure your resume matches the information in your letters. If you have a letter from a former employer, but you didn’t list that job history on your resume, the hiring manager might be confused and unsure about how you got the letter. Or if in one of your letters of recommendation, your recommender mentions you are a great computer programmer, but that isn’t on your resume at all, that doesn’t make much sense. Ensure your resume is a representation of you, so it matches the information people share about you in the letters. You want to show consistency when you are looking for a job. No matter what field you are in, your resume is important and should reflect what you can do.

Cover Letters

If you don’t have much job history or you haven’t worked with many people you can ask for a job reference. a cover letter can be a great way to stand out as well. You can write a generic cover letter, or you can write personalized letters for each job you apply for. Either way, it is a great way to stand out as well.

Letters of Recommendation and You

Remember, you don’t have to have a letter of reference to get a job, but it certainly helps. Having someone to vouch for you is always beneficial. Finding the right job can be difficult, but having the tools you need to succeed is the first step!