3 Job Recommendation Letter Tips

A job recommendation letter is a letter which recommends the subject's employment history, skills and experience. This type of letter is often written as a personal recommendation. These letters can be from employers, professionals, or academic letters of recommendation from college teachers and lecturers.

1. Uses of recommendation letters

The type of reference letter required can vary, depending on the requirements of a particular job. Recommendation letters can serve several very useful purposes:

  • General employer references: The most common form of reference letter. These letters include recommendations from former employers, managers, and supervisors, the people able to describe and discuss your previous work authoritatively.
  • Professional references: These are references from qualified people in professions able to testify to your professional work. They're not necessarily direct employers, but may be personal references. As professionals, their recommendations can be very important.
  •  Academic letters: References from academic sources can be excellent job recommendation letters. They can cover areas of academic work which can't be dealt with by employer references. This can be critically important in some job applications, where academic training is a vital component of essential criteria.
  • Job-specific letters: In some cases, letters of recommendation need to function like academic references. If you're going for a job where specific skills are the most important element in the job, you may need a reference from an expert in the field. These are particularly high value letters of recommendation, because top line professionals are very discriminating about who they'll recommend.

2. Asking for a letter of recommendation

Selecting a person as a reference can be difficult. Who you ask for a job recommendation, and why you ask them, are primary issues. The fact is that a letter of recommendation has to be a reliable reference from a credible source. Because the need for references often relates to a specific line of work, accredited professionals and managers are the best basic references.

When asking for a reference, do it in stages:

  • Don't overstep the boundaries of a working relationship. Bear in mind you're asking someone for help with a personal need. If you're not sure of the person's willingness to provide a reference, don't ask until you're sure there's a reasonable possibility of success.
  • Explain the nature of the situation.  Depending on the type of reference required, it's important your reference understands what's needed. With professional, academic and job-specific letters of recommendation, there may be several points to be covered.
  • General references: In most cases managers and supervisors will understand what's required for the letter of recommendation without needing to know much more than what sort of job you're trying to get. They will however need a good idea of what the job involves. They can also be good sources of advice and guidance for your application and interview.

3. Letters of personal recommendation as career tools

Professional and academic letters of personal recommendation are in effect networking letters. Business professionals, the sciences and academics use personal letters of recommendation regularly. At career level, these personal recommendations are very highly valued by employers.