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Three Steps to Receiving an Awesome Recommendation Letter

When developing your resume, we recommend including a section at the end that lists a few of your professional references. Even if the job you’re applying for doesn’t require a reference list, we suggest you provide one anyway. It shows that you’ve built relationships with people who can back up your work and your character. Employers like to see that.

If you want to bolster your resume even further, you may consider asking your references for a recommendation letter. The powerful documents can go a long way when interviewing. Those hiring will not only get a chance to meet you and hear what you have to say about yourself, but they’ll also receive testimony from someone who’s probably been there and done that a few times before.

But what’s the process and etiquette for gathering recommendation letters? We’ll tell you.

Be choosey – Deciding who you’d like to write a letter of recommendation is the most crucial phase in the process. Not only is it the first step, but it also sets the tone for your entire recommendation experience. Selecting the right person – someone with whom you’ve developed a strong professional relationship – can catapult you from a solid job candidate to a hired job candidate.


  • Family members or friends shouldn’t write your recommendation letter. Find someone who has an objective view.
  • Choose someone who can communicate well. A poorly written letter isn’t going to impress a hiring manager, even if they provide wonderful insight.

Give them what they need – An informed letter is a worthy letter. If you want your recommendation to bear any weight with those hiring, make sure it includes a little meat. Your reference could write all day about your charismatic personality, but unless there’s evidence to back up your past work, your recommendation letter won’t boost your chances as much as it should.

Make sure to send your references a copy of your resume, along with any other work or school-related information not listed within the resume. If your reference is a former employer, for example, consider re-sending them a copy of your last performance review to remind them of why they liked you so much. If your reference was a teacher or instructor in school, send over a few papers, assignments and grade reports that you’re proud of. Most of all, just make sure they have the material needed to shed some worthwhile, positive light.

Thank them – Writing a concise, thoughtful letter of recommendation is no quick task. It takes time – time that could be spent working, cleaning, cooking, exercising – you know, one of the dozens of items we have on our to-do lists. If a person is kind enough to spend their valuable time endorsing you, make sure you take the time to write a thank-you note. Hand-written notes add personal flair, but a thank-you e-mail is acceptable, as well. Be gracious – your appreciation will be appreciated.

By keeping these simple, yet important, practices in mind, you can make the most out of your reference list and put yourself in a position to get noticed by the right employers.

Have more questions? Contact the Jones College Career Services department!


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