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What is a Letter of Recommendation?

Recommendation letters are kind of the insurance policies of applications. You don't always need to use them, but it's nice to have them just in case. Because they're a less common part of the job application process (though often a part of school applications), we want to answer three of the biggest questions about recommendation letters. 

What are they? 

A letter of recommendation is a letter written by a previous employer, colleague, teacher or someone else who can recommend your work or academic performance. Though they are similar, recommendation letters and reference letters are not the same thing. A reference letter is more general, and can be used for multiple positions. A letter of recommendation is more specific and is meant to be used for one job or school application. 

Though they're most often part of an application process, in some cases, recommendation letters can help facilitate an introduction or interview

Do you need them?

This one is pretty straightforward. If an application requests a letter (or letters) of recommendation, then yes, you need them. If they aren't specifically asked for, then you probably don't. 

Current or outdated?

Having someone recommend you for a position or program is not something that's going to go out of style. Some companies and employers ask for them as part of the application process, and they are often requested as part of graduate school applications. 

It's possible that you may never need a letter of recommendation or be asked to write one. However, it's not a bad idea to be familiar with what they are, and who you could ask to write one for you. 

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