May 7, 2012

Proving Your Education – Testimonials

This post thread started with my book review of Proving You’re Qualified.

In previous posts I discussed some of the elements of an education portfolio – résumés and letters of recommendation. Although what elements go into the making of a good education portfolio varies by individual and job target, a good one might consist of a résumé, letters of recommendation, testimonials, work samples and documentation of learning. I’ll discuss testimonials in this post and the remaining elements in future posts.


While a letter of recommendation is a formal letter that packs quite a punch when trying to impress someone considering whether to hire you or not, a testimonial can also be impressive. What is a testimonial?

You might be familiar with the many testimonials (or endorsements) that populate the infomercials so prevalent on television today. These are generally written or spoken statements, sometimes short quotes (often from a well-known celebrity, expert in the field, or private citizen) extolling the virtues of some product or service. For our purposes here, a testimonial is someone extolling your virtues, experience, knowledge and skills.

When someone says something nice about your work or your high level of expertise or skill, ask if you can quote them. Or better yet, ask if they’ll put what they said in an email and send it to you. Ask them if it’s alright to include the testimonial quote in your portfolio. Also ask if it’s alright to use their name, title and company (if applicable) and contact information (email address usually). If you feel the quote needs to be reworded, don’t hesitate to revise it and send it back to them and ask if the rewording is OK. You want it to read in that testimonial “style.” They’ll generally say yes as long as you didn’t change the meaning of anything they said.

Why ask if you can use their name and information? Because testimonial quotes attributed to a specific person who can (if one were to want to) be validated make the best impression. But even if the attribution of the quote is from “a satisfied client” or “a fellow co-worker at ABC Corporation,” use it anyway.

Present your testimonials neatly typed as quoted material along with whatever attribution you can include below it. For example…

“John Doe’s computer savvy, work ethic and experience in the software development field have contributed significantly to our company’s success.”
– Jack Smith, Vice President, Big Corporation

 In a portfolio that someone will be flipping through, formatting each quote in a large font that fills an entire page can make an impact. If presenting the testimonial quotes online or in a printed document you’re sending to or giving someone, just present the quotes and attributions formatted nicely in a regular font in a series sequentially on as many pages as is necessary.

Come back to my blog as I talk about the other elements of an education portfolio in future posts.

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