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Letters of Recommendation?


Richard Lowery Clarksville, TN

I asked this question on LinkedIn and I am afraid that it may have a negative effect on my "personal brand," so to speak. I am a Subject Matter Expert in many things but I cannot say that I am a SME at applying for jobs. Here it goes:

When reaching out to your professional network, how far back would you go to get Letters of Recommendation?

Are military awards considered to be a good alternative in the civilian workforce, in place of Letters of Recommendation?

My wife told me that she has an entire folder with letters of recommendation. I guess I missed this being brought up in all of my education and professional discussions. I am just curious.

8 January 2020 5 replies Career Exploration



Ed Jasper Pittsboro, NC

Interesting Question - Here are a few additional thoughts to add to the discussion.
Military Awards
I'm retired Army, so if I see them when interviewing as part of an application packet or on a resume, I understand the language and the significance of the type of award and the language used. I have at times had to explain them to others in an interview panel and if I was not involved, they may not have understood the significance. There is difference between an Army Achievement Medal and Bronze Star with V device, and knowing that is important.

Letter of Recommendation
As far as letters of recommendation - they can add some value, but I think having a strong list of references from recent previous managers and peers can be a stronger indication of their support for you. If contacted, they can answer relevant questions. If you use a letter of recommendation, it needs to be recent in my mind (1-3 years). Anything much older than that I don't believe carries much weight. The best letters I have seen are directly tailored to the job posting. For example - "Joe would be excellent in this position as I understand the role because he........" A generic letter of recommendation doesn't really achieve the same level of emphasis/support in my mind.

I hope this helps provide another perspective.
Good Luck


Richard Lowery Clarksville, TN

Ms. Galecki,

Thank you for your recommendations and ideas. You are right, it doesn't hurt!



Karen Galecki Chicago, IL

It certainly never hurts to ask for recommendations. I would go back at the most 7-8 years. A lot of managers I know will look on profiles to learn more about them, and surely if someone has recommendations readily available to read on there from previous managers, clients, colleagues, it can help give a boost and/or add excitement about someone. I would also list your military awards. They are an accomplishment, show character, and should be listed as such.


Richard Lowery Clarksville, TN

Mr. Hoffman,

Thank you for your response and for your thoughts. I spent a good part of my evening reading whatever I could find on the Internet and it suggests that Letters of Recommendation are "normal" for entry level and senior level positions. I think having so many years of experience mixed with a graduate degree and a pretty decent certification should speak for themselves.

Again, thank you and have an outstanding week.



Gabriel Hoffman Falls Church, VA

1) Military awards are good
2) Most employers do not care about anything more than 5 years old, unless there is something pretty special older than that. So keep the letters in that range.
3) As a hiring manager, I have never asked for letters of recommendation, so I do not know if they really carry much weight. I care about: demonstrated experience and relevant certifications.

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