When To Give Letter of Recommendation During Interview
Are you putting on your "candidate marketing and branding hat" during your job search, where you are directly trying to influence your image and credibility? Are you paying attention to how you brand and market yourself when you are applying for jobs, talking to Recruiters, and during the interview process? Applying for jobs and then waiting patiently to hear back to schedule interviews is not enough. It rarely works. Having a quality conversation with a Recruiter and hoping that they submit you for an opportunity with their client/s is not enough. Delivering a strong interview is not enough. It is a competitive market, and you need to identify ways to gain a competitive advantage!
To truly stand out throughout the submission, interviewing and selection process, you need to strategize on how to effectively market yourself as a both a strong technical and culture fit. You need to ask yourself "what am I providing to the Recruiter and/or hiring Manager to demonstrate my strengths? Why they should hire me and what else could I provide to show them I'm the one (in addition to my resume)?"
This is where the candidate marketing concept of 'Sharing Recommendations,' which are both relevant and strong testimonials of who you are as a professional and what you can provide to a company and team, are vital! It is one thing to be able to speak to your skills and accomplishments in interviews, but it can be even more powerful when you have past managers, end clients, co-workers, etc. speaking to what you are excellent at, your achievements, and your soft skills and leadership traits! Especially considering that most people are extremely modest, when interviews are not the time to be modest, you want to collect recommendations that are endorsements from others on what you offer a company, and share them at some point during the interview and selection process!
There are four key times to share recommendations. You do not want to share recommendations at each of these points, but you want to ensure that both 1.) Recruiter/s and 2.) Hiring Managers receive! Therefore, we recommend sharing at Opportunity 1 or 2, and then again at Opportunity 3 or 4!
Opportunities for Sharing Recommendations:
- Share in application(s) - Does the platform where you are
applying for jobs allow you to upload a PDF? Is there an email address provided
of the Recruiter supporting the role? Is there a place to upload a Cover Letter?
Is there a section where you can add a URL? In our
10 Sources for the Best Professional Recommendations Tip, we discussed the
best practice of collecting recommendations via your LinkedIn profile. It is
then easy to share through your profile, since you can either include the specific
URL of your profile OR you can download your recommendations as a PDF from your
- Send to a Recruiter/Talent Acquisition Specialist after you have
a conversation - Before your resume gets shared with the hiring Manager
for a role, it will likely be screened by the Recruiter (of a staffing firm)
and/or the Talent Acquisition Specialist (Corporate Recruiter who works at the
organization). Unless it's a small company where you are applying, you will
almost always have a 10-20 minute "screening conversation" with a gatekeeper
(i.e. Recruiter/Talent Acquisition Specialist). You can't rely that they will
automatically advance you to the next step of the hiring process because you
meet the qualifications.
One of your goals when talking to a Recruiter should be to determine how much competition there is for the role you are interested in. Competition may be the number of staffing firms supporting the client/opening and/or the anticipated number of candidates that might be submitted for consideration for the role (this might be harder to capture, but worth asking about). Especially if there are a lot of staffing firms submitting candidates, you want to market yourself effectively on the front-end! Ask the Recruiter "do you know how many staffing firms are supporting this role?" OR "Do you know how many candidates are being considered for this role?"
Then provide your recommendations in a follow up email/response after your conversation with the Recruiter. Here is an example of how you could frame this during the end of the screening conversation:
EX. Script during Conversation with Recruiter
"I really appreciate your time today, and all the details you provided around this _____ opportunity! I have several recommendations that speak to my expertise with the technologies that will be utilized in this role. I'm going to email you those, and if you agree, perhaps you can include one or two of those with my resume when you pass along to the hiring Manager. What are your thoughts on that practice?"
- Provide during an interview - You always want to have a
print out of your recommendations as part of the portfolio you bring to an interview.
This portfolio should include multiple copies of your resume, the job description,
your list of questions, paper and pen for notes, and recommendations. It may
also include non-proprietary examples of your work if you have them, results
of technical assessments, and any other materials you have that could demonstrate
The best time for sharing recommendations will likely be during the interview closing! As the conversation is wrapping up, there are a few areas you may address, including: interest in the role, quick summary of relevant experience, and/or sharing of recommendations.
EX. Script during Interview Wrap Up:
"I really enjoyed learning more about this role and what it's going to accomplish! I feel strongly that I have the qualifications to contribute immediately to your goals. I have brought some recommendations, including two of my past Managers, who speak to my skills with custom enterprise level development. Here they are, and please let me know if there's anything else I may provide you that would help demonstrate my qualifications."
- Provide in your thank you email - If you provided a print out of your recommendations during the interview, you would not want to include them again in your follow up email as that may seem a bit excessive. The goal is to ensure the hiring Manager has received them at some point. However, if you didn't see a natural opportunity to share your recommendations during the interview closing, or you just forgot, share them in your follow up thank you!
There is no perfect science around when you should share your recommendations, rather evaluate how things are going during each step and make your best judgment on the appropriate time to share. Again, the goal is to provide recommendations to the Recruiter/Talent Acquisition Specialist (i.e. opportunities #1 or #2) and then to the hiring Manager (i.e. opportunities #3 or #4)!
- Step one related to this recommendation is to identify and ask individuals in your professional network for a recommendation! If you have not read our earlier Tip on 10 Sources for the Best Professional Recommendations, we suggest reading that so you know exactly who to ask for a quality testimonial of your work and contributions.
- Step two is then asking for recommendations, with a goal of identifying at least three individuals who will write one.
- Step three, which was the purpose of this Tip, is to then leverage these strong testimonials during the hiring process to influence your overall brand/image! There are two different groups of hiring professionals you can share recommendations with, i.e. the Recruiter and then the hiring Manager.
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