Letters of Recommendation Still Matter

As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, I really enjoy the great career advice guest posts that people send.

Today I have some career success advice on letters of recommendation from Lauren Bailey, a freelance education writer who covers topics from alternative online learning to career placement.


Letters of Recommendation Still Matter

In high school you worked diligently to make sure that you were on good terms with a few important teachers so that you could submit letters of recommendation good enough to win over college admission officers. In college, you repeated the same thing to ensure that you had stellar letters of recommendations for both internship and employment opportunities. But even if you’ve already managed to land your first real-world job thanks partly to a great letter of recommendation, making sure that you withhold a good standing with your current employer and making an effort to keep in touch with previous recommendation letter writers is still important. In fact, your career may depend on it.

In short, people are transient. They move from job-to-job constantly, sometimes by choice sometimes due to cut backs. Whatever the case, to help increase your chances of employment in your industry-of-choice throughout your entire lifetime, you’ll need to have a good resume that is backed by a good letter(s) of recommendation. In fact, a rec letter can be what sets you apart from other applicants with the same educational and professional level of experience. That said, you should be on the lookout for non-related individuals that can be your recommendation writer if you need one. For some quick tips on where and how to find one, continue reading on.

Your Previous Employer

One of the best letters of recommendations you can obtain is one written by your employer—that’s only of course if you left (plan on leaving) the company on extremely good terms. The better your employer knows you (knew you) the more likely he or she will be willing to write something with substance. So make it a point to make sure that your head boss (CEO or someone similar) knows you— even if you work with a sea of a hundred other employees. Make sure to chat with your head boss whenever you get the chance including near the water cooler, at lunch, and at office-related social events such as happy hours and holiday parties. The key isn’t that you want your head boss to just recognize your face or know your name, but you want him or her to know a bit of your personality as well as the fact that you’re an exceptional employee. If all else fells, hopefully you left a good enough impression on your direct supervisor for a superb letter.

Your Ex Co-Workers

Former co-workers can also be great sources of recommendation letters. If there was a particular co-worker whom you were pretty close to and had a higher title than you, even better. Your potential new employer will see that you got the stamp of approval from management and other important personnel. So get to know your co-workers as much as you can, all of them.

Organization Team Captains, Directors Etc.

Even if you’re working in the professional world, you’ll want to stay active in your community on your free time. It helps build character and allows you to meet new people, which can often be hard to do outside of a school setting. For example, some young professionals like to join a team club sport and play weekend soccer or softball; others join volunteer organizations. It doesn’t matter what your hobbies are exactly, but your “leader(s)” can definitely be a rec letter writer one day. He or she may not be able to vouch for your industry-related skills directly, but they can thoroughly explain what kind of person you are: works well with a team, is considerate, reliable, etc. So get involved with in activity unrelated to work.

Previous Rec Letter Writers

Lastly, you can rely on previous rec letter writers if you manage to keep in touch with them throughout the years—you want to stay on their radar just in case one day you might need that rec letter after all. Send an occasional “just checking in” email to touch base. You can even consider adding your ex rec letter writer on Facebook –yes it’s okay if it’s a former professor.

Remember to always give your rec letter writer ample time to complete it. No less than two weeks is deemed as acceptable. You also want to give materials that may help the process easier for you rec letter writer: resume, work samples, list of accomplishments etc.

I think that’s some great common sense career success advice from Lauren Bailey on letters of recommendation. What do you think? Please take a minute to share your thoughts in a comment. As always, thanks for taking the time to read my musings on life and career success. I value you and I appreciate you.

If you want to learn more about how to climb the corporate ladder faster check out the free rebroadcast of a webinar I did recently. You can find it here.

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