8 Reasons to Seek Written Recommendations Related to Your Academic and Professional Experience

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By Mitchell Friedman, Associate Dean of Career Development and Student Affairs

Published 6.18.13

I urge every Presidian to take the time to seek written recommendations from professors, employers, internship supervisors,  Experiential Learning partners (when appropriate), and any others who’ve had the opportunity to manage your academic or professional experience at any time in your life.  Here are eight reasons you should do so:

  • A concise, written recommendation highlighting your accomplishments carries much more power than an oral assessment, and also challenges the author to think more deeply and express thoughts more clearly than is achievable orally.  Also, in general, a written recommendation is more readily accessible over time.
  • A written recommendation captures your achievement at a point in time in your career (e.g, your experience in completing a summer internship), to which you can refer as you see fit and share for many years to come.
  • People forget what it was like to work with you and/or they move on to other jobs, so you can’t rely on the availability, much less the accuracy, of recommendations requested orally after any period of time has elapsed (so it’s advised to request the written recommendation as soon as possible after you’ve completed the relevant project).
  • Each recommendation highlights different experiences, skills, and achievements, the sum total of which constitute the rich tapestry of your life and career.
  • Your recommendations in total offer you a historical perspective on your career, offering you the opportunity to look back over time to view different components of your professional development and overall to see how you’ve grown as a person and professional.
  • Each recommendation can be considered a resource, the raw material upon which you draw to develop your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and myriad other career/job search-related communications.
  • You can use these written recommendations on your LinkedIn profile, Web site, and in other marketing materials, either in their entirety or edited.
  • Finally, there will be times during your career when you need inspiration. You can delve into this pool of recommendations and your spirits will be immediately uplifted!

This post is the first in a series. Check out the subsequent post here.

Mitchell Friedman, Associate Dean of Career Development and Student Affairs

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