Effective Letters of Recommendation

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
POSTED: January 12, 2010 at 10:48 am

When searching for a new job, especially in this economy, it helps to have letters of recommendation from previous employers and industry professionals.

However, the letter must go beyond the general and mundane. We’ve all read letters that tell the prospective employer how much the former boss enjoyed working with the candidate. What a great guy/gal the employee happened to be. How fortunate a new company will be to have them.

An Employee’s Past Performance Should be Included in a Recommendation

As a hiring manager, that’s not telling me what I need to know. To make an informed decision, I need data that will tell me:

  1. How the employee excelled in their old position – not that they simply showed up for work.
  2. The employee’s progression through the company. Additional responsibilities. Promotions.
  3. How they did on performance reviews, especially in relation to others in their department.
  4. Their accomplishments quantified with dollar figures of money saved/earned, time periods in which this took place, and the methods they used.

These four points make for an effective letter of recommendation. They add credence to the often-used verbiage – “It was a pleasure to work with XYZ.”

No employer has the time to write the perfect letter of recommendation. So, it’s up to you, the employee, to give your boss or manager a draft detailing what you’ve done for the company and to make it as complete as possible so the new hiring manager or recruiter knows just what they will have in you.


Darlene Z.

Darlene Zambruski is a resume writing expert and CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer) with more than 13 years of industry experience. She has authored 10,000+ resumes in every industry and at every career level.

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