In the resume that you have submitted to your potential employer you may have already included a list of names and contact information of some important people as your character references. Even so, you must not expect the prospective employer to call and talk to these character references. Instead they would typically require you to submit business letters of recommendation.
A company usually asks a potential employee to submit three letters of recommendation and it is up to you to secure them from your former colleagues, superiors and managers and other people who can attest to your work ethics, knowledge, experience, strengths and weaknesses as well as achievements. To be on the safe side, strive to get at least five business letters of recommendation.
Here are some tips on getting them.
- Make a list of people whom you think can give you the best letter of recommendation. You can even choose to get recommendations with people you have worked with in the same type of job so they have a better understanding of the industry and can write about your skills and achievements in the field. A letter of recommendation from a colleague will be all right but a business letter of recommendation from a superior or manager will bear more weight because it is taken as a sign of your being noticed and commended in your previous job for your exemplary work ethics. Tick off each person on the list until you can come up with a short list of potential people to approach.
- Get in touch with the people in your list and try your best to meet with them. Show them a copy of your resume and tell them the reason why you sought them. Ask them if they are willing to give you a letter of recommendation, what that letter means to you and its bearing in your chances of getting hired. If they are agreeable, tell them when you need the letter, how the letter should be delivered to the potential employer, give them the company name and address, the name of the person the letter should be addressed to and their designation. Note that some employers require that these business letters of recommendation be mailed to them while others will require you to submit all of them at one time. They should be written using your contact’s company letterhead and give them time to prepare the letter.
- If the person you ask is not comfortable writing a business letter of recommendation, ask if it will be all right to draft the letter yourself and for him to sign it.
- If these letters are to be mailed, check with your potential employer if they have received the letters after ample time has elapsed from when you made the request, the deadline you gave and the time it will take for the mail to be delivered.
- Always thank you character references politely and personally when they have done so as asking for a letter of recommendation is a huge favor.
Choose which person to approach when asking for a business letter of recommendation. It should be someone who knows you well, who appreciates and often commends you and works really well with you so they can write a good recommendation. These letters can support an employer’s final decision to hire you.