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In some selection processes, such as the World Bank Group YPP, candidates are asked to provide reference letters. These are the only documents which give third-party opinions of the candidate, highlighting their competencies, knowledge and experience. Who should write your WBG YPP reference letter? In this article we will present some criteria you should consider when choosing your referees and tips for writing an effective reference letter!
This article is just a small sample of all the information covered by our comprehensive eBook – The World Bank Group YPP: The Essential Guide. If you want to know more about our preparation products, access the following link:
1) Asking for a reference letter for the WBG YPP: 5 important criteria
When starting to acquire WBG YPP reference letters, one of the first questions which comes into a candidate’s head is: who should I request the recommendation letters from? In order to assist them in this process, five criteria are recommended, which may help the candidate make the correct decision.
1) The first criterion to be considered when selecting a referee is the person’s capacity to provide relevant information about the candidate. You should select referees who know you well, have knowledge of your work and, therefore, are able to share your knowledge, competencies and experience in detail.
2) The second criterion for selecting a referee is looking for a diversity of perspectives, allowing the assessor to gain a broad overview of your professional and academic experience. You should select people who can provide different, but complementary, points of view (for example, work, university and voluntary work, etc.).
3) The third important criterion is the selection of a referee you are sure has positive information about you. If possible, do not risk requesting a reference letter from a supervisor or boss with whom you have had disagreements in the past or you know does not hold a high opinion of you. In other words, only ask for reference letters from people with whom you have a relationship of trust.
4) The fourth criterion is your referee’s availability. It is important that you are sure that the person selected as your referee will have the time to write the letter and will not miss the established program deadline.
5) The last criterion is, if possible, to look for someone who is recognized in a specific area or field. It is important to note that the recommendation letter draws on the logical principle of an argument from authority, that is to say that when an individual who is a specialist in a specific area makes statements about something or someone, it is presumed that they are true.
2) Writing an effective Reference Letter for the WBG YPP: 8 tips
In this section, we will present the 8 main elements of the content and structure of an effective reference letter! You can share this relevant information with your referee so that s/he can craft the best possible letter:
- At the start of the body of the letter, the referee should identify themselves and advise how s/he knows the candidate, the period in which they were in contact, their relationship and the role performed;
- The letter should only include positive information about a specific professional. Thus, any characteristics seen as negative should be avoided;
- Avoid extremes: shy away from flattery and complete impartiality;
- The selection team requests that recommendation letters focus on the competencies sought by the World Bank. In addition, the referee should talk about the candidate’s integrity, their tact and diplomacy, maturity and ability to work with others. Therefore, the letter should present a summary of the individual’s competencies and positive and professional aspects;
- The candidate’s competencies and qualities should not just be mentioned as generic compliments, but should be discussed through concrete examples, in order to outline the individual’s true profile. These examples may take the form of the results achieved by the candidate or their performance in executing tasks;
- It is not necessary for each referee to assess the candidate in all of these aspects, but this should be possible through a combination of all three letters. In other words, it is possible that one referee will be more able to give a detailed evaluation of the candidate in one particular competence rather than another;
- A more emphatic recommendation of the individual can be made at the end of the letter; and,
- Minor points, but which are also important, are as follows: remember to put the date either at the beginning or end of the document, include a greeting to the addressee and sign the letter.
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