How to Give a Good Job Recommendation

Has someone asked you to be a reference? Read here before you agree.

Has someone asked you to be a reference? If someone you know is looking for work and asked you to provide a job reference, take a few moments to consider before agreeing to give a recommendation. Do you know the person well? Have you worked with them in a professional capacity? Do you have positive things to say about the person’s work ethic and qualifications? If you answered yes to all of these questions, let the person know that you agree to providing an employment reference. What should you expect after you’ve agreed to being a reference?


Gather information.

Depending on the company and the position, you may be asked to give your recommendation in a phone conversation, a letter, or even an online survey. If you’re asked to write a letter, make sure you ask for the person’s name, address, and the deadline. Regardless of the medium, you’ll want to prepare in advance by getting some information from the applicant. Ask the applicant for a copy of his or her resume. While you may already know about the person’s skills and work ethic, a resume helps you fill in specific information, such as exact titles, time employed, etc. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could also ask for a copy of the job description so you know which of the candidate’s skills are most relevant to highlight.


Think about what you will say.

The first thing you’ll want to mention, whether writing a letter or speaking to the hiring manager over the phone is your relationship with the person. How long have you known the candidate? What is your relationship to him or her? Did you work together? Were you colleagues in the same industry? What qualifies you to be a good reference for this person? Then, you can talk about the person’s qualifications. Be specific and give examples if you can. Instead of speaking generally about how the candidate is a good worker, talk about specific experiences. Emphasize why his or her skills are a good match for this position in particular. Avoid talking about anything personal; instead focus on the person’s experience, performance, and skills.


You’re ready to give your recommendation!

Once you’ve agreed to being a reference, have gathered your facts, and planned what you would like to communicate, you’re ready to speak to that employer (or start that letter). As you relay your recommendation, keep in mind that it’s not all about what you say, but it’s also about how you say it. The employer will be paying attention to your tone. Are you enthusiastic? Do you hesitate when giving answers? Human resource professionals are experienced in reading between the lines.


At Penmac, our staffing specialists are experienced at thoroughly screening candidates. If you need help finding a job, or finding the applicant who is right for your position, call your local Penmac office today!