Recommendation Letters from Employers

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Do not underestimate the value of recommendation letters from your employers. Whether you are applying for a new job or seeking opportunities for higher education, a letter of recommendation can make up for weaknesses in your application or curriculum vitae. This type of letter discusses how your accomplishments, experiences, skills and personal qualities make you a good fit for the new endeavor you seek.

Which Employers to Ask

  • School admissions offices generally require at least two letters of recommendations from applicants, if they require such letters. On the other hand, when you apply for a job, letters of recommendation are a good way to supplement your resume but are not usually required. The best employers to ask for a recommendation letter are those who have a good opinion of you, know you well, can describe your work in a positive light and have known you long enough to write with a sense of authority. Ideally, an employer who provides a letter should also be aware of your career or educational goals, your range of skills and experiences, can compare you with your peers in a positive manner and knows how to write well.

Asking for a Letter of Recommendation

  • When you ask for a letter of recommendation, it is best to do so in person by making an appointment to meet with your employer or a former employer. If you happen to live far away from a former employer, a phone call is the next best option. When you speak with an employer, explain to her your plans to apply to a school or a new job and ask whether she feels comfortable writing a helpful letter that supports your application. Be prepared to talk to employers about your educational or career goals, as well as why you think they are a good choice to provide a letter on your behalf.

Recommendation Letter Guidelines

  • It is common for an employer to ask for guidance when others ask for letters of recommendation. A good recommendation letter is honest and explains how your employer knows you. In this context, an employer should provide information about your performance, motivation, maturity and effectiveness as an employee. The letter should also detail your strengths in a manner that discusses examples that illustrate an employer's points.

Considerations

  • Be sure to give an employer at least a few weeks or more to write a recommendation letter and, if you live close enough, offer to pick up the letter from his office so he does not have to concern himself with placing it in the mail. If an employer seems uneasy about writing a recommendation letter or says he will not write one for you, do not push for one. This is a clear sign that he would probably not write a favorable letter.

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