04/10/2016 by Melissa C. Martin
The Dark Secret to Getting Recommendations
Doesn’t it drive you nuts when less qualified people get the opportunities that you deserve more? It doesn’t have to be that way…if you know the secret to getting the kind of recommendation letter that really opens doors.
Most of us know one or two people who aren’t particularly good at what they do, and yet they always seem to be the ones who get ahead in life or receive a promotion. Wouldn’t you say? They advance, while everyone else has to sit and watch.
It wouldn’t be so infuriating if they were the most deserving, the most intelligent, the most skilled, or the most hard-working. But it rarely seems to work out that way. The simple fact of the matter is that it takes at least two types of skills to get ahead in the world today: the ability to do a good job and – what is becoming increasingly important – the ability to land a good opportunity in the first place.
Unfortunately for most of us, our teachers only taught us how to perform well; they didn’t spend a whole lot of time showing us how to stake our claims – how to make sure we get the credit, rewards, and opportunities we deserve. That was supposed to be automatic.
Well, it’s not! It’s a jungle in the civilian world sometimes!
Throughout your life, you can expect that you will be out there too –over and over again – fighting for your place in the world. It’s not enough to be another skilled candidate; successful candidates know they must stand out in a crowded field. They must get noticed before they can ever hope to get offers.
That’s why letters of recommendation are more important now in the job search process than ever before – often more important than your resume. If you’ve ever been involved in hiring, then you know it doesn’t take long before all those resumes start sounding alike. Resume after resume – the whole pile starts to become a blur. And I often tell my coaching clients that employers don’t like to hire “generic employees.” They would rather hire a candidate based on a referral, reputation or RECOMMENDATION from someone.
Letters of recommendation are unique. Hard-hitting, objective opinions from real-life professionals that have actually worked with you can communicate more about what you offer than you could ever get across in a resume… that is, if you can get the right letter.
PROBLEM: Getting good recommendation letters isn’t easy – even when you deserve them! People are often reluctant to write letters of recommendation – even when you are more than deserving. Why? Well, a typical excuse is that they are too busy. After all, doing a letter of recommendation can take some time
– especially if you don’t do them often.
Even so, often lack of time is just an excuse; it isn’t the real reason why most people don’t like writing recommendation letters. A more common reason and more embarrassing, is that managers are reluctant to write reference letters because THEY don’t think they can do a good job. In fact, they fear that the letter they write will be so bad that it will make them look unprofessional. What’s the consequence? You and the recipient of the letter will lose respect for the letter writer and the
organization he/she represents.
Of course, they won’t tell you that; you just won’t ever get your letter. Clearly, though, some people have figured this out. They are able to secure the kinds of letters that opportunities that people can only dream of.
How do they do it?
– Are they just better than everyone else?
– Do they work harder?
– Are they smarter or better educated?
In the vast majority of cases, the answers to these questions are no, no, and no!
They’re not better or smarter; they just know the secret.
Their approach is as simple as it is effective: They write their letters of recommendation themselves!
You’ve probably seen glowing letters of recommendation that…
– get people to stand up and take notice
– impress recruiters and colleagues
– provide the most effective competitive edge available in the war for fast-track opportunities!
Am I saying that these letters are essentially just advertising – as biased as anything else – written by the candidates themselves?
That’s exactly what I am saying, and for a very good reason… it’s absolutely true! It’s the dirty little secret that all the most successful candidates already know.
Now think about this:
How can you possibly compete without doing the same thing yourself?
The answer is: you can’t!
If you are serious about landing the kind of opportunities you really deserve in today’s competitive environment, then you have no option… you
must take the initiative. It takes real nerve to write your own letter of recommendation for someone else to sign, but it’s the way the real
movers and shakers make things happen.
Two quick solutions:
1. Contact someone on Linkedin (preferably a first level contact) who can write you a recommendation in a paragraph. Tell your contact what contact you would like to include (such as your reputation; past performance reviews; major projects on which you worked, etc). Send the paragraph to your contact.
2. Once your recommendation is done, make sure you get at least two others per role you had. So that adds up to three in total. If three recommendations are impossible to get, try to get two and then start asking for “endorsements,” a relatively new feature on Linkedin. Once you have completed your recommendations, write something like “Please see my recommendations on my Linkedin account.”
Employers will take notice!