Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value. ~Albert Einstein
The process of writing your own letter of recommendation could actually help you gain clarity on your strengths and how they apply to your perspective new employer. A great letter of recommendation showcases a clear story about your personality, skills and abilities that would make you a great fit for a certain job and an asset to a particular employer. To do that one must know the needs of the company, it’s core challenges and the particular pain points of the hiring manager. One also needs to be clear about what you bring to the table that could help that employer solve his/her thorniest problems.
If you leave this exercise up to those who are writing your actual letters of recommendations you could be missing the best chance for organizing your thoughts, crafting your story and tailoring it to the specific needs of a hiring manager.
Writing your own job recommendation is a great way to prepare for an interview
You first need to learn about what the employer perceives as an ideal candidate. Then you tease out your skills and abilities that align with the firm’s mission and with that hiring manager’s goals. Highlight your accomplishments and personality traits that would show you’d be an asset to their team and clearly communicate the specific ways you’d fit into the firm’s culture and balance off the talent they currently have. This should all be done within no more than two paragraphs.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What personality traits, skills and abilities would describe the ideal candidate for this job?
Use LinkedIn’s company page to research the firm and then see profiles of employees who have many recommendations from peers and supervisors. Read their recommendation to learn about the qualities that are esteemed so you can better understand what “top talent” is at that firm. Join the groups of other employees and join your college alumni association on LinkedIn. The more you have in common with employees in a firm the easier it will be to get your foot in the door for an advice appointment. Use the advice appointment to inquire about the key challenges the firm faces, how to stand out there, what the culture’s like, and what they perceive as an ideal employee. If you hit it off with this person, you could ask for a reference.
- What do you know about the organization’s culture and why would you fit in there? Be specific about how you could contribute to the culture there.
- How you use your skills to balance off and meet the needs of the team?
- What do you know about that specific firm and the hiring manager’s biggest challenges? How can you demonstrate from your previous accomplishments that you could help him/her tackle their problems at work?
- How could you fill a void at that firm?
Writing your own letter of recommendation will deepen your appreciation for why you are (or in some cases aren’t) the ideal candidate for a particular job. Even though you won’t be sending your own recommendation out to employers, crafting it could force you to think more specifically about your employers goals and how you could help the firm advance them. You may also learn where you have gaps in knowledge, skills, education or in personality traits that would make a person a good fit for that job. Lastly, writing your own mock recommendation could boost your appreciation for those who actually write your recommendation so you can send them an authentic letter of appreciation for their support.
The brainstorming process that comes with writing your own recommendation could give you the necessary reframe to align your talents with those necessary to get you hired. So write your own recommendation today and increase your self-awareness so if someone asks you what you bring to the table, you’ll have a succinct, clear and well thought out answer about how you could add value there. Once you write yourself a great recommendation you might even boost your confidence and your conviction about the job you want–knowing exactly why you could excel in this job if you get hired.