If this is your first job application, you can ask your college teacher for a letter of recommendation. In this case, your professor can only describe your academic success and your personal qualities. If you left your last job in a friendly manner, and your former boss was satisfied with your performance, you can ask him/her for a recommendation letter too. But why are these letters so important, and how do they work?
Your potential employer may ask you to show a recommendation letter either before the interview or after it –– to consider taking you to the next hiring stage. Of course, some recruiters can request such a letter right during the interview, so you should better take care of it beforehand.
A letter of recommendation is an effective way to help the candidate stand out from other job applicants. It describes the talents and skills of the candidate you recommend. But a good recommendation letter does not simply state the strengths of the person. It would be more valuable to provide examples when your former employee (or student) demonstrated those features at work (when studying). So, this kind of writing requires a more sophisticated approach.
Why a “Thank You” Note Is Necessary
Since writing a recommendation letter requires time and effort, and your former manager will not be paid for it, you should thank that person with a note. This note also serves as a confirmation of your professional relationship, for you'll never know if you would need to communicate with this person again. Always try to keep a positive relationship with any business contact.
If we look at this from another point of view –- assuming that your former manager or teacher writes many recommendation letters – your reply can make you stand out. That referrer will most probably remember you and will help again once you ask for another letter of reference.
Writing and Sending a “Thank You” Letter
Email or Paper?
Though today paper letters are not widespread, there still are people who would like to receive such a “Thank You” letter by mail. In some cases, you can even send a card to thank a person for his/her efforts in handwriting.
Find out which format is preferable for your recipient. But with a paper option, make sure it will arrive and be read promptly. Otherwise, just send an email or even do both.
Though there is no standard format for your “Thank You” letter, some sections are pretty common. Let's take a brief look at every part.
- Greeting. You can refer to the person by name and surname or state Ms., or Mr. The latter option is preferable, and don't forget to put a colon after the greeting. For example: ‘Dear Mr. Smith:.’
- Gratitude statement. You can start with appreciating the time spent and efforts of your referrer. Don't write more than 3-4 sentences so that this part may look like this: ‘I would like to thank you for your kind assistance with my recommendation letter. It helped me support my application significantly, and I appreciate the time and effort you spent preparing my letter of recommendation.’
- Application status. It would be polite to let your referrer know how his recommendations helped you to succeed. Don't write too many details about each interview stage and questions. Instead, give a couple of facts about the current status of your application process. Your text here could look like this: ‘It helped me pass to the next level of interviews at ABC Inc. Due to your strong support, my chances to join ABC Inc. as a Junior Sales Manager are high. I have the next interview this Wednesday –- with the Head of Recruiting. If I succeed, the last stage will be a meeting with my direct manager –- Head of Sales."
- Closing phrase. This is usually a word 'Sincerely' written on a new line and followed by a comma. And on the following line, write your full name and surname.
So, the letter is finished. What's next? Put it away for a couple of hours and then proofread it. Double-check your grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Verify if you spell correctly the name of your referrer, the company’s name (if you mention it), addresses, etc. Good command of English is another proof of your professionalism, so don't neglect it. If you can ask a friend to read through the letter, do it. Another pair of eyes can notice more details.
When to Send a “Thank You” Letter
Send your “Thank You” letter as soon as you receive your recommendation letter. The quicker your referrer will get your note, the more professional you will look. In business, including correspondence, being fast means a lot. So, if you decided to send your “Thank You” letter by mail, do it the same day you receive the reference letter.
Since emails are delivered immediately, you can send the words of appreciation the next day, but do not wait for too long. And if you are lucky to be hired, you should also notify your former employer or professor about your hiring progress.
Sample of a “Thank You” Email
Here we would like to show you one of your “Thank You” email examples in reply to receiving a recommendation letter.
Subject Line: Letter of Recommendation – Jason Smith
Dear Mr. Hopkins:
I would like to thank you for the recommendation letter you kindly sent me the other day. I used it for applying to the Sales Manager role in ABC, Inc. It really was strong and helped me to move to the next stage of the recruiting process.
I hope that my experience in your company will support my application and let me cope with the following test tasks.
I once again appreciate your kind assistance and spent time and effort preparing the letter of recommendation for me. Your input in my success is valuable, and I will keep you updated about my results.