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Navigating Personal vs. Professional Recommendations

Many companies use personal or professional recommendations to determine whether you are a good candidate for a role. These recommendations may come from colleagues, coworkers, managers, supervisors, or people who know you well outside of work.

Your recommendations provide insight into who you are, how you work, and whether you would be successful in a position. Therefore, you want to ask for recommendations from professionals who speak highly of you and focus on your strengths.

Learn the differences between personal and professional recommendations to determine which may benefit your job search.

Personal Recommendations

A personal recommendation comes from someone you did not work with but can describe your values, integrity, character, and personal goals. You might request a recommendation from someone you know through school, volunteer work, personal associations, or longtime friendships. These individuals have known you for at least 1 year, think highly of you, and can provide concrete examples of the value you provide.

Professional Recommendations

A professional recommendation may come from a colleague, coworker, manager, or supervisor you regularly interacted with for at least 6 months. These professionals can speak directly about your daily work habits, performance, work ethic, and professional goals. Their information provides a clear idea of who you are at work and how you contribute to the team.

Tips to Request Recommendations

Follow these guidelines to ask for personal or professional recommendations:

  • Carefully select whom to ask for a recommendation. Focus on professionals who know you well and can communicate your skills, character, and ethics.
  • Meet the individual in person. You can call or email to set up a time to ask for a recommendation. If you cannot meet the person face-to-face, consider a video call.
  • Respectfully ask for a recommendation. For instance, “Would you be interested in providing me with a recommendation?”
  • Share the job description. Provide details about the role you want so the individual can focus on your most relevant skills, traits, and experience in their recommendation.
  • Send each person a copy of your resume. They can see your skills, experience, and career progression, then include the information in their recommendation.
  • Provide adequate time to write a recommendation. Share a reasonable deadline to send your recommendation.
  • Thank the individual for their time. Offer to help them when needed.

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