Categories: Lime Connect Q & A: Your Questions. Our Answers.
Can you imagine asking someone for a letter of recommendation and they then ask YOU to write it for them? This happens all the time and can be a great opportunity to get the perfect message across to prospective employers. But many folks have never written a letter of recommendation about anyone else, let alone themselves. This exact situation happened with one of our Lime Network members this week. Here are some of the tips I shared with her on how to write the letter of recommendation in the third person:
- First off, if someone asks you to do this, make sure they are willing to read the letter for accuracy and authenticity. It is critical that your letter be credible and truly reflects the recommender's point of view. So make sure they will take the time to edit the letter and approve it.
- Use a standard business letter format where you include the recipient's name and address (if you know it), and address them as "Dear X". If you don't know the name, if it is more general, you can address it as "To whom it may concern."
- The recommender should begin the letter by introducing him/herself briefly: his/her role, his/her relationship to you. Give some context around the role you had, your employment dates, if relevant.
- Next paragraph, the recommender can provide an assessment of your skills, abilities and character qualities (e.g. drive, enthusiasm, team leadership, etc.). Ideally the recommender will share what makes you unique or exceptional. And then follow this up with some concrete examples of times when you excelled. This makes it more believable. If you are not sure what to include, imagine what the person receiving the letter needs to know or what qualities they are looking for.
- The recommender should end the letter on a positive note, briefly summing up the reasons that you should be considered for hire. Ask the recommender if they are willing to be contacted for further discussions. If they agree, then include a sentence at the end such as "I am happy to discuss (her/him) further. You can reach me at…."
- Do avoid: mentioning weaknesses; informalities such as jokes, casual language; personal information that you don't want revealed; and certainly spelling mistakes or typos.
And again, be sure the real recommender reviews the letter and can honestly say it is a letter that they would have written if they had had more time. Enjoy this opportunity to brag about yourself while standing in someone else's shoes!
Suzanne Aptman is Lime Connect's Director of Professional Development. If you have a topic you would like to see addressed email Learning@LimeConnect.com.