How Does a Recommendation Letter Benefit a Job Application?

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From the Employer's Perspective

  • A letter of recommendation with your job application is an insider tip for your potential employer. Sure, your application and resume say that you're competent, but information straight from a past employer or professor makes your on-paper qualifications believable. There's simply nothing better for bolstering confidence than the personal opinion of a person of stature in the community. But the best thing about a letter of recommendation is that it puts all this at your prospective employers fingertips and makes you shine among the other job applicants.

A Letter Builds Your Credibility

  • Evidence of your work experience, accomplishments and skills is what an employer looks for in a letter of recommendation. But your letter is also your chance to provide in depth information that is not on your resume. When your letter is tailored to the specific position you are applying for, the employer knows you are serious about the job. You can accomplish this by telling your letter writer the specific points you need the letter to address.

Your Prospective Employer's Confidence is Raised

  • Reading how you are appreciated by a past employer, professor or other person of authority, creates an intangible aura of competence around the image of you that your future employer is formulating. For the employer, this eliminates some of the anxiety over making a hiring choice. Of course, the good feeling your letter creates should be supported with truth. Embellishments and exaggeration have no place in a recommendation letter. But using positive words and phrases is a good idea.

Your Application is Easier to Evaluate

  • Checking references is a chore and some employers give it only cursory attention. Or they may skip it entirely. Your letter completely removes the burden of interviewing that reference. Instead, the information instantly available. And it's comprehensive, having been written when your reference has had time to compose his thoughts, and the facts were fresh in his mind. Bearing this in mind, give your letter writer three to five weeks to write your recommendation letter. Check back weekly to inquire about progress. Offer to help any way you can, perhaps by composing the letter yourself or having a third party write it.

Writing Your own Recommendation Letter Gives you Control

  • Often former employers are too busy to write a good letter within the time period you offer. In this case, it's not uncommon for them to ask you to compose the letter according to your requirements and submit it for signature. This gives you the chance to tailor your letter to your job application, and highlight the achievements, skills and work habits you think will be most valuable to your new employer.

You Gain an Advantage Over Other job Applicants

  • Many times, other job applicants won't submit a recommendation letter at all. Since a good recommendation helps compensate for fewer years experience or less formal education, you could be put ahead of the pack just because of your letter. This is especially true if your recommendation letter highlights a strong work ethic and good character.

  • Photo Credit Ysabel Doran
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