Your recommendation letter, provided it has come from your teacher or a person you have reported to earlier or someone who has seen you put in hard labour for your work, will stand out…
When you have someone who knows you well vouching for your qualifications, abilities and skills in front of your employer, you suddenly feel confident in front of your potential employer during your interview, even if your CV might be all that attractive and impressive!
It seems like the person writing your recommendation or reference letter is sitting right in front of you and talking to the interviewer or the company you have applied to for a job, and enumerating on your qualities.
While many have the same skills as you or at least claim to possess them in their resume, just like you, your recommendation letter, provided it has come from your teacher or a person you have reported to earlier or someone who has seen you put in hard labour for your work, will stand out against all those other resumes and you will not only get noticed by the interviewer or the HR but may also have a better chance at securing the job offer.
However, make sure that the letter is not much focussed on your goodness as a human being or your soft skills, it should specifically highlight why you are the best fit for the job and how talented you are in terms of knowledge and professional skills.
While you might think reference letters have become a passé, employers still like to confirm your details from your past employer or HR of your previous company. A well-written, compact recommendation letter would do just that: it would bring to the fore your background and abilities and will endorse you as a potential candidate for the job.
A Letter of reference from your previous employer where s/he has enlisted your qualities can always emphasize how well you contributed to the growth of the company and if you were a good fit to the company. It shows that you have left the company in good terms and believe in keeping cordial, friendly relationships with your colleagues and employers alike.
If the letter carries the name of the addressed, the title/subject and a brief background about the person who writes it, authenticity of the whole thing certainly increases.
A letter of recommendation is also a valid proof of what you have already mentioned in your resume. In fact, it adds all the more value to your qualifications and highlights the most relevant work experiences in your past that can certainly be beneficial to the company you have applied to, and how. The letter gives the hiring manager a chance to understand your personality traits, your working style, how others have found you as an employee, your strengths and best abilities, and your methods to handle pressure situations.
The mention of your achievements and responsibilities handled on your resume alone do not suffice sometimes and you need people you have worked with for a significant time period to talk about your temperament, leadership skills, friendly behaviour, ability to work in teams and individually and your overall personality. Especially if the recommendation letter is from someone in the same field as you or as the company you have applied to, it portrays that you have good contacts and networking. For instance, if you are going for a job in the MNCs, media or the film business, and have a reference or recommendation letter from an influential person in the fraternity, you are well sorted as you are well-connected. Such fields sometimes require you to have and maintain good contacts.
Not only is it a boost to your skills and accomplishments, the recommendation letter lets your hiring manager know how well you have performed your past responsibilities and your willingness to take up new tasks and build up on fresh initiatives.
See that your recommendation letter also provides the exactly same tenure for your work history and also the credentials, awards and recognition that you have secured in these positions.
For getting the right kind of recommendation letter from your coach, counsellor, professor or previous employer, you must be sure of these points:
- Mention your biographical data, work history, job responsibilities to the writer of the letter beforehand. You will also need to let them know the job profile, the company and the kind of company culture you are applying to.
- Your talks with the HR about the skills and requirements for the job should be mentioned clearly to the person who is writing the recommendation for you. Your future goals, achievements and certificates you have bagged, if mentioned to the writer will make it all the more easier and specific for the person to draft the letter. A mention of the specific skills you think can help you secure the job for instance, taking initiatives, working on tight deadlines, handling work pressure comfortably, etc. should be stated to the letter writer before the letter is drafted. A tailored recommendation letter according to the specific requirements of the company can best work in your favour.
- Even if the recommendation letter is from a very influential person, the hiring manager would certainly call up the person to confirm if s/he has written the letter and to final know more about you from a trusted source, before taking the final decision on keeping you in the job. You need to give a date and if possible, the timeframe when the recruiter might call and also if you want them to include some particular pointers like how good you were in working with teams or speak about your writing and skills of understanding priorities, tell them frankly. The verbal communication should be similar to what has already been mentioned in the letter, otherwise the letter might seem to be fraudulent. However, it should also not appear that the letter writer is just reading out the letter or does not know you that well to comment.
- Last but not the least, make sure you are proactive and hard-working enough for the teacher or previous employer to speak in good terms about you. You can have multiple choices for the writer of the recommendation letter and hand over the one letter to your hiring manager which you think suits you best and suits the company even better. However, give them time enough to ponder about what to include in the letter and avoid rushing things up or forcing them to write a lie about you. Also, neither forget to follow up once you have asked the person concerned to write the letter and given the documents required to ask if they need any other help or want to know something more about you nor be mindless enough to forget to thank the person after using the letter. They will be more than pleased to know if you secure the job.
Choosing a person of high authority like the Head, Principal, Professor, head coach or counsellor or a team leader of your previous company is always a go-to move. Opt for a personal meet-up and carry your documents of employment history, credentials and award certificates, etc. when you visit the person and clear him/her on why you are asking for a recommendation letter.
So, go get the cherry on top of your cake, that is the recommendation letter apart from your resume for that dream job you have so dreamt of since your graduation days. However, don’t only rely on the letter as your interview attitudes and behaviour along with your CV and the letter will work together in helping you bag the job. It is ultimately you whose skills, qualifications and experience will do the deal. The recommendation letter will not work wonders alone.
P.S.: You will also come to know through the letter what your teacher/ previous employer thinks about you. (*winks*)