Nobody would argue that nowadays a letter of recommendation is a very useful tool in working life. It is becoming increasingly more difficult for heads of HR managers to recruit the best candidates for a job and, although the assessment is usually carried out by the hiring company, it is very common to ask companies in which they previously worked for references to verify details and to resolve any doubts.
If you are actively looking for a job it is necessary to be in control of the references and letters of recommendation that may be asked of you. This way, not only will you stand out above the other applicants, but you will also feel more confident managing the information that the new company receives about you and your career yourself.
Who can you ask for a letter of recommendation?
If you are going to change company, you can ask for a letter of recommendation during your notice period. You can ask your head of department, as they are the person who has supervised your work most directly, and it would also be appropriate for the management of the company to be involved, at least in signing the reference. Having said this, the most important thing is for the person writing the letter to be a professional and trustworthy, because it is no use them writing a letter about you if, in reality, they do not know how you work.
You must also bear in mind that letters of recommendation are not only for people with work experience, as this resource can also be used in the academic world, for example when a professor makes a written assessment highlighting the skills of a particular student.
Structure and essential aspects of a letter of recommendation
Identification of the company. It is always preferable to print the letter on corporate, letter-headed paper, so it is clear that it is an official letter written by a member of the company. Save the original and make copies or scan them to be able to share them, this way you will always be in control and ready to supply it when required.
The recommender. Remember that the recommender is the person giving their professional opinion about you. Make sure they are someone who has really worked with you and ask them to include their contact details in case your future company decides to contact them to clarify any points on the letter.
Work period. The start of your trajectory with the company and the moment you stopped working there must be included.
Promote your strengths. Aim for the reference to mention two or three positive attitudes that you normally show in your workplace. Responsibility, flexibility and teamwork are some of the most valued concepts.
Description of the position. It should contain the position you occupied and a small description of the most important tasks you carried out.
Training in the company. If you have been trained within the company but you do not have a qualification or diploma, you can take advantage to mention this training in the letter of recommendation. It is important for the hours of training and the subjects you worked on during the training to appear. If this information is too extensive, we recommend that you prepare a separate document and ensure that it is stamped.
The recommendation. Of course, make sure to include a sentence in which they say that you are a good worker and in which they directly recommend you as a professional.
Signature. Whoever writes the letter, that is, the person who has supervised your work, should sign it and write their name and surname underneath. In addition, whenever possible you should make sure that the company management also signs the letter.
Company stamp. This is essential because, if at any time the signatories change company, the recommendation will always be recognised by the company.
Once you have left a company it will be more difficult to request a letter of recommendation, but there are certainly many companies willing to help you and to write one, even after a few years. As always, the best thing is to end on the best terms possible with your managers and never leave a company without a letter of recommendation under your arm. You never know when you may need it!
What about you? Have you asked for a letter of recommendation? At Claire Joster we have unique job opportunities that can help you to find the career move you’re looking for.