How to write an online recommendation
How to write an online recommendation
By M. Scott Meester
The traditional reference letter is a formal document that is written by a former employer or colleague. It has a specific and methodical format that includes information that must be checked against employment records. It is also an outdated method for your contacts to share their admiration of you.
With the advent of LinkedIn recommendations we have been freed to be more generous with our praise for a contacts skills and abilities.
- You should be able to provide an honest and positive recommendation. If you truly feel that the candidate has no good qualities for you to emphasis, look for someone that you do feel comfortable recommending.
- Because so much of our business is done online today you may not have met the person, that’s ok. What this means is that you are basing your recommendation on the profile the person has provided and communications you may have had with them.
- If the person has not completed a profile, do not recommend them. Send them an email and let them know you are ready and willing to recommend them once a complete profile is available. I have adopted this rule for endorsements as well.
What goes into an online recommendation?
The exact structure of a recommendation will differ slightly depending on the type of reference it is, but here is a good basic outline:
- For online recommendation letters you will not use the formal business letter format. Instead you should write no more than three paragraphs that get to the point while covering the important details of the contact.
- If you have had personal communications with the contact you should introduce yourself in the first line of your letter. The recipient will not need your life history: just give a brief sentence explaining your relationship to the candidate.
- In your second paragraph, you should provide your judgment upon the candidate’s skills and qualities. It is often appropriate to state that contributions to the company were highly valued. Single out any exceptional qualities that the candidate has – perhaps their drive and enthusiasm, their attention to detail, or their ability to lead.
- When possible, use a third paragraph to give a couple of concrete examples of times when the candidate excelled. (You may want to ask the candidate to tell you about any extra-curricular projects they’ve been involved in, or invite them to highlight anything they’d particularly like you to include in the reference letter.)
- Close your letter on a positive note, and if you are willing to receive further correspondence about the candidate’s application, make this clear.
Make sure that you avoid:
- Mentioning any weaknesses the candidate has
- Saying anything that could be construed as libel
- Jokes, slang and casual language are not appropriate and may harm your contact
- Including personal information not relevant to the application. Mentioning the candidate’s race, political stance, religion, nationality, marital status, age or health is usually inappropriatel.
- Spelling mistakes, sloppy writing or typos: this letter is hugely important to your contact, and you should take care to make it look professional
There are a number of good templates for reference letters available on Business Balls and About.com’s “job searching” section I’ve included two below:
Working with (NAME) for 5 years on several online projects, I have found (NAME) to be (state characteristics – eg, dependable, reliable, hard-working, conscientious, honest, peace-loving, courteous, etc).
I’m happy to provide further information if required. (optional)
Yours faithfully, etc.
I highly recommend (NAME) as a candidate for employment. (NAME) was employed by (COMAPNY) as an Administrative Assistant from 2002 – 2005. (NAME) was responsible for office support including word processing, scheduling appointments and creating brochures, newsletters, and other office literature.
(NAME) has excellent communication skills. In addition, she is extremely organized, reliable and computer literate. (NAME) can work independently and is able to follow through to ensure that the job gets done. She is flexible and willing to work on any project that is assigned to her. (NAME) was quick to volunteer to assist in other areas of company operations, as well.
(NAME) would be a tremendous asset for your company and has my highest recommendation. If you have any further questions with regard to her background or qualifications, please do not hesitate to email me.
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