Q: In your opinion is a letter of recommendation important?
A: It’s a good question. The truth is that it depends on the industry. But it can never hurt. As an HR Director, I find a letter of recommendation important. After having read hundreds of them, I can pick out the ones that are legit, the ones that are sincere and the ones that are super generic.
Q: So what tip would you give readers on how to make a letter feel sincere?
A: Several things. First I want to see that the writer knows the interviewee on more than just a professional level. I want to know that he knows the personal, human side of the person I’m considering to hire. Second, I want details. How do you know them, which specific qualities did you notice in them, how long did you work together. These details may seem insignificant. But combined they tell a deeper story.
Q: Did you ever encounter a letter recommendation that convinced you NOT to hire someone?
A: Yes! Several times actually. When I read a letter that was over 2 pages long, or full of typos, I knew that these people wouldn’t align with our company’s core values of precision. Often times it’s not so much about what you write, but how you write.
Q: Do you have any advice for the writing structure of the letter?
A: I don’t have advice as much as I can tell you things I liked. I like the letters that open with an anecdote. It gets me interested, and tells me that I will get a true glimpse of the person behind the resume. I also like when the closing is direct and reiterates why you would hire him/her again.