|By Shelly Palmer||
|August 17, 2014 09:19 PM EDT||
Maureen McDonnell could use a solid reference right about now.
Instead, the former first lady of Virginia is on trial for corruption alongside her husband, former Governor Bob McDonnell.
The two are accused of accepting gifts from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., a well-to-do businessman, in exchange for promoting Williams’ dietary supplement, Anatabloc.
Oh, and this one: Who had the worst week in Washington? Maureen McDonnell.
So many damaging testimonies Maureen could go without.
You know what?
Your own character witnesses – reference letters – also don’t do you any good.
You know why?
They are predictable and useless in your job search.
Let me explain.
The line below — or something similar — probably graces every one of your reference letters:
“I had the privilege of working with [YOUR NAME] and believe he/she is one of the most promising young people I have ever met.”
Sorry to break it to you, but other applicants have nearly identical reference letters. That’s because everyone writes cookie-cutter endorsements full of flowery compliments but lacking in specifics.
The employer, in turn, reads letter after letter that looks and sounds the same. The bottom line? You, the reference person and the employer go through the motions but no one benefits. The silly little game needs to stop, and here’s how it can:
Ask the reference person to tell an actual story about you.
No one cares about your work ethic unless they understand HOW you work hard. A short story about success on the job will impress an employer more than anything else.
In your request, include this line:
“In your letter, it would be great if you reference a moment or situation where I proved myself or demonstrated my work ethic. The more specific, the better.”
In fact, if you know the moment you want the person to discuss, flat out ask for it.
“For instance, you can write about the time I stayed at work until 11 pm to make sure we finished the project in time for the big presentation the next morning.”
Suddenly, your reference letter is no longer a forgettable piece of paper. It’s a powerful document which relays a memorable story about your track record.
“I had the privilege of working with [YOUR NAME] and believe she is one of the most promising young people I have ever met. In fact let me tell you a short story about her. The day before a big presentation…”
Big difference, right? (This is also why your cover letter should also include a personal anecdote.)
Not only will employers read the “short story” reference letter — as opposed to skimming a boring one in five seconds – but it might even push your application to the top. Remember: the other job seekers provided flavorless, colorless recommendations.
You jump off the page with a career snapshot that speaks volumes about your character.
It’s the kind of testimony Maureen McDonnell, persona non grata in Virginia, can only dream about.
It’s the kind you should have in your arsenal right now.
Aug. 23, 2016 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,851
Aug. 23, 2016 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,740
Aug. 23, 2016 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 283
Aug. 23, 2016 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,470
Aug. 23, 2016 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 3,716
Aug. 23, 2016 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 291
Aug. 23, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,769
Aug. 23, 2016 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 305
Aug. 23, 2016 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,482
Aug. 23, 2016 01:49 PM EDT Reads: 193
Aug. 23, 2016 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,390
Aug. 23, 2016 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,695
Aug. 23, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,981
Aug. 23, 2016 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,352
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Am...
Aug. 23, 2016 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 3,305