Have you considered using a professional letter of recommendation to boost your chances of landing a job? You should! Here’s how to snag the perfect recommendation letter for a job in just five easy steps.

By: Merryn Roberts-Huntley | Owner of Made to Hire

Right now, you might be like most job seekers – going through the job search and application process with just a standard resume, getting rejections instead of offers, and maybe feeling a little hopeless.

What if there was a secret weapon you could add to your toolkit that would change the game?

Your job application gets much stronger when your resume is accompanied by a professional letter of recommendation. I’m sure you know this, but you might not have made the effort to land one.

So how do you get the perfect professional letter of recommendation? You write it.

Wait…what?! Yes, you can write your own recommendation letter for a job. Let me explain:

5 Steps to Getting a Professional Letter of Recommendation

#1: Carefully consider who would be the best person to ask for a letter of recommendation.

Think about someone you’ve worked with who would be willing to advocate for you and would impress the recruiter and hiring manager. This is ideally someone you have reported to in some sense, such as a manager, supervisor, or professor.

#2. Email that person and ask them if they’d be willing to provide you a professional letter of recommendation.

Let them know that you know how busy they are, so to make it easy you’d provide them with a draft version that they can edit and sign off on. (Don’t know how to write a professional email? Read up on it here.)

#3. Assuming they say yes, you can now write a draft version of the letter of recommendation.

Why is that you’re writing it exactly? First – you have the time. Most senior people barely have time for a bathroom break and typically have 100+ unread emails in their inbox at any time!

Plus, you know exactly what you want said about yourself in a recommendation letter for this job. You know what should be said about your past performance and how it relates to the position you’re applying for.

Focus on results and impact from this previous role, and also be sure to highlight attractive intangible skills such as work ethic, teamwork, and leadership. Think about which skills you have and what the position / company will want.

#4. When your draft is ready, send them the document in Word format so they can make any edits to it and ideally put it on company letterhead.

Ask them to add their contact info and signature to the bottom.

It would actually be smart to send them two versions of the document – one for the specific position you are going after, and one that’s more general to use in the future if needed.

#5. Ask them to save the document(s) as a pdf so they are noted as the author of the file.

Then have them send it to you, and you are good to go!

A Sample Recommendation Letter for an Employee

Want to see what this strategy looks like in action? Check out a real sample below:

A sample of a professional recommendation letter for a job written by the employee asking for the recommendation. Courtesy of Merryn Roberts-Huntley of Made to Hire.

Complete Your Toolkit

This letter of recommendation is a valuable tool, and it should go in your portfolio with your other documents.

Not sure what a portfolio is? If you have only been applying for jobs with a resume and bringing just that to an interview, it’s time to step up your game. Check out my online course to learn how.

Interested in a recommendation letter, but need to get your resume in shape first? We’re here to help.

Schedule a free call with us to find out how our professional writers can rework your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile to land you that dream job.

About the Author

Merryn Roberts-Huntley runs Made To Hire, a career coaching company that helps people get noticed, get hired, make more money, and reach their career goals faster. With almost 20 years of business experience and 10 years of career coaching, she knows how to help people land their dream job.  Learn more at madetohire.com, and follow her on Twitter at @MadeToHire, Instagram, and Facebook.