The Value of Letters of Reference
A letter of recommendation is an invaluable tool for job seekers, professionals, students about to enter the workforce, and small business.
In today’s highly competitive market, you need every advantage you can add to set yourself apart. What’s important to know is, others are preparing to make a big investment in hiring you or nominating you for an important award, and they want to be sure you are who you say you are. Having a few good references can be the deciding factor in getting you where you want to be.
What Are The Keys To Using Letters Of Reference?
- Never use generic, “To Whom it Concerns” letters. Employers don't want to read letters written in the past to “whom it may concern.” Employers want to be able to contact and communicate (via phone or email) with a select group of people who can speak about your strengths and weakness and fit for the job you are seeking
- Never, ever list names of references on your resume. References belong on a separate sheet of paper that matches the look and feel of your resume.
- Think through Your Reference Choices. You want the people who will make the strongest recommendations for you. The key is people who know your strengths and abilities and who will say positive things about you.
- Consider a variety of references. Ideally you want several references…meaning references who can speak to your accomplishments, work ethic, skills, education, and overall performance. For job seekers, it’s always a great idea that your references come from prior managers, customers, subordinates, as well as co-workers whom you worked closely with. Soon to be or recent college graduates should target references from past internships, volunteer work as well as your professors
Encourage Your References to Write a Letter of Reference
To encourage your references when asking them to write a letter of recommendation through References Upon Request, point out that it may spare them from being contacted repeatedly by your interviewers.
In addition, they will be able to see a copy of your current resume which can help as well with details of your traits, skills, work habits and accomplishments.