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Reference Letter vs. Letter of Recommendation

Dear Deb:

What is the difference between a reference letter and a letter of recommendation?   I want to be sure I use the correct term when asking my former manager to write a letter on my behalf.  Does it have to do with the type of job you hold?  I am an customer service representative.

Thank you!

Arlene

Dear Arlene:

In a letter of recommendation, the writer knows the candidate well enough to evaluate their abilities. A letter of recommendation is generally requested by the candidate for a particular career goal, academic application, or job opportunity. The writer details the candidate’s accomplishments and skills that make him a strong contender.  The letter is written based on the writer’s personal experience with this candidate. Also, this type of letter is addressed to a specific recipient.  A letter of recommendation is stronger than a reference because the writer is actually recommending you for a job.                                                                     

A reference letter is more general in nature.  Typically, it is not addressed to an individual. It is an overall assessment of the candidate’s characteristics, knowledge, and skills. Context of how the writer knows the individual is included, such as, “I was Clara’s supervisor at Acme Loans.”  In some cases a company representative will issue a letter of reference that simply states the former employee’s dates of employment and job title.  This letter merely references that the writer knows you and confirms basic facts about you.

I wish you all the best, Arlene!  If you have additional questions about your job search, please contact me.

Regards,

Deb

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Dear Deb:

What is the difference between a reference letter and a letter of recommendation?   I want to be sure I use the correct term when asking my former manager to write a letter on my behalf.  Does it have to do with the type of job you hold?  I am an customer service representative.

Thank you!

Arlene

Dear Arlene:

In a letter of recommendation, the writer knows the candidate well enough to evaluate their abilities. A letter of recommendation is generally requested by the candidate for a particular career goal, academic application, or job opportunity. The writer details the candidate’s accomplishments and skills that make him a strong contender.  The letter is written based on the writer’s personal experience with this candidate. Also, this type of letter is addressed to a specific recipient.  A letter of recommendation is stronger than a reference because the writer is actually recommending you for a job.                                                                     

A reference letter is more general in nature.  Typically, it is not addressed to an individual. It is an overall assessment of the candidate’s characteristics, knowledge, and skills. Context of how the writer knows the individual is included, such as, “I was Clara’s supervisor at Acme Loans.”  In some cases a company representative will issue a letter of reference that simply states the former employee’s dates of employment and job title.  This letter merely references that the writer knows you and confirms basic facts about you.

I wish you all the best, Arlene!  If you have additional questions about your job search, please contact me.

Regards,

Deb

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