An important component of the job search process that often gets overlooked is pulling together recommendation letters. Most people don’t focus enough attention on this important facet of their career portfolio, and end up failing to use this
Here are the top five common mistakes that job seekers make on their letters of recommendation:
1) Using a generic letter. The downfall to this approach is that it isn’t specifically connecting your abilities, experience and character as it applies to a specific job. You are missing the boat by not making the effort to obtain customized recommendation letters.
2) Asking the wrong people to write the letter. Determining which people to ask to make the recommendation. Secondly, you need to determine what you'd like those people to discuss which would enhance a prospective employer's understanding about your abilities and potential as it relates to your target job.
3) The letter writer doesn’t understand the job you are pursuing. How many times have you asked someone to write a letter… and what they produce shows that they didn’t ‘get’ the job that you are targeting? The writer should demonstrate some kind of knowledge or understanding of the job for which you are applying. Being able to connect the dots, not just from an applicant standpoint but from the letter writer’s viewpoint, helps make a seamless segue from the job requirements to what the applicant offers. I’ve seen a few recommendation letters that were written by someone who clearly had no grasp of what the position was that the candidate was applying for, and therefore, the letter wasn’t particularly helpful in enhancing the job seeker’s credentials.
4) Failing to coach the writer. Give the writer some help by citing specific examples or telling a story that clearly illustrates why you would be a good fit with the position and the company… this is what makes a compelling recommendation letter. In short, you have to have excellent value propositions articulated by all the people writing the letters.
5) Neglecting to include full follow up information. Remind the writer to provide ample contact information; sometimes there are follow up questions that the screener has and by giving them every avenue possible to reach the recommending party to make them more accessible.
Keeping these tips in mind can help you fully realize the potential that your letters of recommendation can provide to your job search and your credentials!