Tips for an Effective Letter of Recommendation

In private service, people live and die by their references. More than any other industry, future employers rely on those recommendations to decide if a person should be trusted with their homes, their children, their possessions, and even their pets. However, many people don’t know how to write a good reference.

Unfortunately, many people may be willing to give you a letter of recommendation, but they don’t know what to write. As a result, they either write a very poor letter – or procrastinate and never get it done.

Whether you need to gain a letter for yourself or write one for a staff member, try these tips to create a letter that really matters:

 

First Paragraph – Establish the job

These are the facts of the position – dates, title, company and location. This doesn’t have to be a boring repetition; in fact, your contact can start with the accolades right away:

“I am happy to recommend John Smith’s work for our family. John worked as our Estate Manager from 2010 through 2016 at our New York residence. Under his pro-active management, we always knew that our 30,000 sf home and the surrounding property were well maintained and secure…”

 

Body Paragraphs – Details of what the employee did

Once the introduction is done, the letter of recommendation needs to cover more specifics about not only your duties, but the significant outcomes or quality of your work. Letters of recommendation are more valuable when they include specific details about the job:

“Mr. Smith not only managed all of our home maintenance, but also led a team of five full time staff members, including housekeepers, the chef, and grounds crew. As a leader, John made sure that all team members were providing optimal performance while encouraging a positive workplace. Thanks to his forward-thinking tactics and commitment to leadership, the staff always performed at their best, often going above and beyond normal expectations because of their respect for him …”

 

Personal Paragraph – A bit about the candidate’s personality

Recommendations are not just about duties and accomplishments. They should reflect something about the employee’s personality or working style:

“John is highly-detail oriented, organized, discreet, and always professional. With his pleasant nature, John was able to stay cool, calm and collected, even under stressful situations…”

 

Closing – Would they hire you again?

The final paragraph is the strongest recommendation language. It should definitely include a phrase about willingness to hire the candidate again:

“In conclusion, I can whole-heartedly recommend John Smith for any position. He was an extremely valuable member of our management team, and I would happily hire him again should we need another exemplary Estate Manager…”

 

Further follow-up

Some potential employers and agencies will call to verify letters of recommendation. As such, be sure to include the past employer’s contact information, along with the willingness to speak further. In some cases, the letter needs to be verified through the family office or current estate manager. In that case, we sure to reference to proper contact:

“While I will be travelling extensively, please feel free to contact Jane Doe at my family office at 303-555-5555 or [email protected] if you have any questions or need further information.”

 

About Donna Shannon

Donna Shannon, President of The Personal Touch Career Services, is one of the few career coaches who understands the unique nature of the private service industry. Drawing from both her corporate recruitment and luxury market placement experience, she has been helping job seekers with professional writing services, job search consultations and classes since 2004. Her book “How to Get a Job Without Going Crazy” (2nd Edition, 2012) is available on Amazon.com. Donna is based in Denver, Colorado, and works with job seekers across the country and abroad.

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