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Recommendation letters should accompany an application for any administrative assistant position. The strength of a recommendation letter as it pertains to the job duties can benefit the candidate as well as the prospective employer by offering insight into the candidate's work history. Recommendation letters should reflect the strengths of the candidate and should be as recent as possible in order to be an effective tool for the applicant in moving through the job recruitment process.
Asking for Recommendation Letters
It is always a good idea to consider who will be the most effective writer for your recommendation letter. If an employee has left an organization on bad terms, that might not be the best place to start in asking for a recommendation letter. According to Maureen Crawford Hentz, contributor to Quintessential Careers, a career development website, it is important for job seekers to request recommendation letters from people who will have good things to say about the job seeker's work history, personal work ethic and outstanding qualities. She suggests that job seekers should request recommendation letters from employers after notice has been given but before final separation from the company. These letters should be kept on file for future job searches, internships or grants. By collecting recommendation letters from employers, colleagues, academic references, etc., as you go, you will always have a database of strong recommendation letters to choose from when applying for a new position.
The Strength of the Letter
The ideal recommendation letter for a position as an administrative assistant will showcase your abilities, skills, and knowledge in this particular role. According to statistics compiled from US. News & World Report, administrative assistants received a median average salary of $31,870 in 2011. This figure demonstrates that, while administrative assistants are not top-earning executives, they do earn an annual salary which is equivalent to some other professionals' in financial analysis and sales. A recommendation letter could be the one item in a candidate's application packet that stands out among other candidates. When compiling an application packet for a specific job, it is the duty of the candidate to make sure the letters included are strong. The letter should speak to the candidate's skills as an administrative assistant, such as multitasking, meeting deadlines, customer service, dependability and accuracy. When requesting recommendation letters, candidates can ask their references to include this type of information so that the letter is as strong and effective as possible. It is the candidate's responsibility to ensure that the recommendation letters used for a job application speak to his or her strengths for that particular role. Having a strong database of letters to choose from is beneficial, but selecting the right letters to use for a job position is critical.
Timeliness of Recommendation Letters
Another key factor to consider when gathering recommendation letters for an administrative assistant position is the timeliness of the letter. Although the strongest recommendation letters may be from employers or academic mentors from several years prior, it is important to show your strengths in recent positions as well. Even though it may be uncomfortable, asking for a recommendation letter from your most recent employer is beneficial to future career opportunities. Coupling a strong recommendation letter from several years ago with a more basic recommendation letter from the last employer is a good strategy when considering which letters to select for an administrative assistant job.
Consider the Audience
As is the case with any written material, considering the audience for the recommendation letter is important. Your cover letter should be addressed to the hiring manager or a specific person (such as the CEO, director of human resources or business manager) if that contact information is given in the job posting. Selecting the right recommendation letters requires you to consider the connections that can be made in each letter to the specifics of the administrative assistant job position. Furthermore, considering the work environment, company culture, and department will be helpful in determining the best recommendation letter for each position.
Jennifer Burton is a human resources professional based in California. She holds an M.A. in American studies from California State University, Fullerton.