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Whether you’re vying for a position on a state commission or a job in private industry, a recommendation letter from your governor or senator could be the feather in your cap that might at least get you an interview. Before you fire off a letter to your governor’s or senator’s chief of staff, however, consider the type of relationship you have with your elected official and the job or position you want. Make sure the recommendation letter is relevant and appropriate.
Your Support May Not Mean Everything
If all you did was vote for your governor or senator and you aren’t personally acquainted with her, you can’t reasonably expect that she’ll write a recommendation letter for you. Your best alternative is probably a form letter on the public official’s stationery that merely identifies you as one of her constituents. If that’s all you need, or if you contributed to her campaign financially or with in-kind services, contact her office and politely explain what you’re seeking. Introduce yourself to the official’s chief of staff and describe what you contributed to her recent campaign. Follow up with a request for a simple letter that states you're a valuable contributor, that you devoted 1,000 hours to her campaign or whatever you think justifies asking for a letter of recommendation.
If you want a state job and you’re looking for a favor from your elected official, carefully weigh your options. Hiring managers and recruiters don’t always look favorably upon political patronage, so be clear on whether you’re requesting the letter based on your qualifications or if you simply want to name-drop. Name-dropping probably won’t guarantee you the job or position you want. On the other hand, if you’re seeking a political appointment to a state commission, a letter from your elected official may be exactly what you need for consideration.
Request a letter from your governor or senator in person, if you can. Find out when she’s traveling to your area, appearing at a town hall meeting or the like. Introduce yourself and ask for her support in your candidacy for the role. Only use this tactic if you have a personal relationship with the official, however. Otherwise, it could appear that you’re trying to get a job just by mentioning your elected official’s name in your application materials.
Say What You Want
Other than the governor’s or senator’s name adding credence to your qualifications, you want to demonstrate that you indeed have what it takes to be effective in the position or job for which you apply. If you have a personal relationship with the governor or senator, treat this request as a formal matter and clarify what the recommendation letter should include. Provide her with the name of the addressee and the reasons you believe a recommendation letter could improve your chances of becoming a better candidate.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.
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