A Letter of Recommendation is also known as a Reference Letter or a Character Reference Letter. These terms are used interchangeably.
I can't stress enough of the value in having a reference letter when you are applying for a job. This letter will help you provide strong evidence to your prospective employer of your strengths, abilities and achievements.
As an employer, when I go through the applications, the first thing I look for is a resume cover letter, then if there is a reference letter, I will read that first before I start reading the resume. The reference letter can tell me a lot about the applicant. In fact, I have hired someone because the Character Reference Letter told me that she was a hard worker and specifically, her ability to solve problems. The letter went into some detail of how she handled a particularly difficult situation at work.
Now, back to the job application letter of recommendation.
I have split the advice here to two parts. The first part is for the person writing the letter and the second part is for the person requesting the letter.
Almost everyone at some point in time will be asked to write a Reference Letter. Whether it's for an employee, a friend, or someone you've worked with, it is important to be prepared to write an effective Reference Letter.
If you are happy to write one for the person, then you should do the following:
It is also very important to say "no" if you are not comfortable recommending the person. It is not in the person's best interest for you to write a bland endorsement. Employers will usually be able to read what you are not saying. Just tell the person you don't know him/her well enough to write a good letter. That way you don't hurt the person's feelings.
When asking for a reference letter, be sure to ask someone who knows you well enough. Some people you can ask are your relatives, lecturers (if you are fresh to the workforce), you supervisor, manager or your colleagues.
To help them write the Letter of Recommendation, give each a copy of your resume and describe the positions that you are investigating. The more they understand your objective and qualifications, the better the reference they will be able to give you.
Ensure that the letter of recommendation is sent directly to you. It is in your best interests to be able to screen for a less than glowing recommendation. When you send out your resume, include a copy of each Letter of Recommendation and carry them with you on job interviews.
Send a thank you letter to each of your references when you have completed your job search. It is wise to keep in close contact with your references for two reasons:
I'm here to help you write better business letters.