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Work/Life: How to ask for professional recommendations

On this episode of Work/Life, hosts Greg Nibler and Ciara Pressler, founder and author of Pregame, sit down to discuss how to navigate one of the trickier elements of the working world: Asking for a professional recommendation. How does one go about it? Which platforms are best? Are there things to avoid? What steps do you take?

Pressler suggests starting with what’s called a “hit list,” which is simply a list of people you’d like to get recommendations from. Answering these fundamental questions will help you prepare and acquire the right recommendations. Who are they in relation to you? Who are they in relation to the job you want to get, and will that recommendation mean anything to a new employer?

Pressler suggests asking twice the amount of people that you need, to be sure enough people will respond, and to make it easy for them. “If you want something from someone, make sure it’s easy for them to give it to you,” Pressler says. Let them know exactly what you want and what you want them to speak to, and give them a reasonable time table for a response.

Pressler also says to follow up with those you’ve asked for a recommendation. “Don’t expect people to remember or to have your name on their to-do list,” she notes.

When it comes to the timing of asking people for a recommendation, Pressler notes that there are a few key times to pay attention to. “The time is usually around a transition like a promotion or finding the perfect new job, or perhaps an event like publishing a book, a big creative project, or something that will bring more eyes to your site or profile,” she said.

Pressler also suggest to give recommendations to others. Make the other person look good, and describe what makes them unique. This not only helps the other person, but will open a relationship where that other person is more likely to give you a recommendation when you need one.

The biggest key, Pressler notes, is “ don’t be shy. Toot your own horn!” Go out there and find the people that know how awesome you are, and get it in writing. Finding the right people to give you the right recommendations could be the key to unlocking a bigger opportunity for your career.

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