Four No-Fail Tricks to Capturing Awesome Letters of Recommendation

Let’s face a painful truth: Most of us are totally ineffective when lining up our personal cheering sections during a job search.  This can include anything from failing to inform or keep references up-to- date on your current status to asking for recommendation letters in a panic due to a prospective employer’s request during an interview.

Planning ahead and being completely focused on what you want others to speak about regarding your skills, abilities, and expertise as well as character can be the ‘make or break’ factor.

So go ahead. 

Be proactive and think ahead of the curve. 

Here are some no-fail tips on how to capture that awesome letter of recommendation…before you actually need it.

You’ll be glad you did!

Be strategic on who you ask.  Review your network and only ask the people that you know are your absolute advocates for you, possess excellent industry profiles/reputations, are in elevated positions of authority, and can specifically speak from first-hand experience in working with you. This adds power and ‘oomph’ to your credentials.

Identify key areas you want them to address.  If you spread out the angles that you ask people to discuss in your letter, the prospective employer will have a more in-depth insight into who you are and what makes you tick.  Think about asking one person to talk about your character, another who can talk about your subject matter knowledge, a separate person who can discuss your leadership, and another letter detailing your innovation.  This comes across as the ‘WOW’ factor on the other end. Trust me.

Coach them.  Keeping your cheering squad up to date on where you are in your job search also helps them feel involved in your personal success.  As mentioned in #2, provide some coaching and unique insights into your target job. This actually helps the person writing the letter to make it a very focused asset to your application by connecting the proverbial dots.

When in doubt, offer to write it for them.  I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret- this is a pretty common practice!  People are completely swamped right now… and while the spirit maybe willing, they are otherwise tied up.  This convenience is a handy tool in anyone’s job search bag of tricks.  In a recent online discussion with professional resume writers, it was agreed that it would be acceptable for a job seeker to make this offer in order to get what they need from the reference. The job seeker can write specifically towards the job target, and then provide it to the person providing the reference who can either approve, edit, or veto the document.   

Hopefully, by following these quick tricks, you’ll be able to have some top-notch, compelling letters of recommendation at the ready for just the moment when you need them!