A Letter of Recommendation is a reference letter describing someone’s qualities and abilities, written by someone who has worked with them to add extra weight and merit to a college or job application.
It is written by a teacher, former professor, supervisor, principal investigator, team leader, or employer to support the applicant for a new post.
You may be requested to write a recommendation letter for a person applying for college or university, scholarships, internships, a job, or a leadership and volunteer opportunity. The letter needs to add positive details about the applicant and any information you have learned about them, such as their work performance and behavior.
The most common recommendation letters are those used for:
- Seeking employment
- Applying for university admission
- Endorsing someone’s character.
Types of Letter of Recommendation
Recommendation letters are needed for different situations; hence, they are available in various types. It all depends on the candidate’s requirement.
Importance of Recommendation Letters
Recommendation letters communicate information of the applicant to a hiring manager from someone else’s view and reinforce an applicant’s resume.
Their purpose is to help to:
Powerfully advocate the job seeker
The letter can be used to show your support or back your candidate. If the note shows support, then the employer will be inclined to view the applicant as a committed and successful person.
Add personality to the application
Having a customized letter that shows your candidate’s specific strengths and abilities will go a long way for them. In addition, it shows the hiring manager the particular qualities of your candidate that sets them apart from the other applicants.
Point out the applicant’s past achievements
Talking over your candidate’s accomplishments shows the hiring manager the ability of the applicant to achieve similar actions over time. Thus, past achievements are used as a mirror to deliver the performance of the candidate.
It helps the job seeker to get hired
In most cases, the hiring manager will be interested in applicants with recommendation letters, unlike those without. A good letter of recommendation will give the candidate a better chance of getting hired for the job. Writing a good letter of recommendation impacts the hiring manager positively because they tend to be interested in the details of those applicants that are writing in a specific and personal manner.
Characteristics of Letter of Recommendation
The primary purpose of a recommendation letter is to provide an outsider’s perspective of a specific applicant. Here, you can have an idea about the essential components that a recommendation letter should meet to ensure that it is honest and accurately reflects the applicant.
It is personable
A recommendation letter needs to be unique and have a pleasant personable tone and enticing manner of writing. An enticing letter goes far in ensuring the reader is willing to read it. Employers and universities mainly request reference letters because they want to get a third-person perspective of the applicant’s qualities and personal achievements.
It comes from a reliable source
The recommendation letter needs to come from someone with enough knowledge of the applicant. This can be a former employer who has witnessed their performance or a teacher who knows the person well and their traits.
Use of supportive/enthusiastic/positive language
This letter is to be used to ensure the candidate gets the opportunity they are applying for. Hence, it is essential to write the letter with a tone and language that shows enthusiasm and support to the candidate. You can words such as ‘outstanding’, ‘wholeheartedly’, and ‘sincerely’ to show your support and inject passion into your words. In addition, you can describe the applicant’s strengths using adjectives such as ‘exceptional’ or ‘superb’.
It is specific and detailed in nature
A recommendation letter should be precise, factual, and with enough details about the candidate. Write about their performance in particular, and you can also give an instance that may support the details provided. Avoid writing the usual clichés.
It contains a narrative
This letter needs to ensure that the reader understands the progress and growth of the applicant. When they are done reading the letter, it should help provide a better understanding of the connection between you and the applicant and connect to it like a story. Ensure you include anecdotes that show the applicant’s character and abilities where possible.
It is relevant to the applicant’s goal and achievements
A good letter should focus on the skills that are most relevant and important to the job they are applying for. Also, show the goals the candidate has and how they have been going about achieving them.
Who May Ask for a Letter of Recommendation?
As the person writing a recommendation letter, you need to know who is an applicant and why he or she needs the letter foremost.
As a teacher or school counselor, your student may ask you for a recommendation letter to apply for a college or university to show their ability and character.
In the case where you are someone’s close relative or supervisor, the candidate may ask you for a recommendation letter if they do not have any former work experience to show any volunteer work they may have done.
As a college professor or university supervisor, your recent grad student may need a recommendation letter to validate any school projects they may have participated in.
Considerations Before Writing a Letter of Recommendation
When asked to write a recommendation letter for anyone, there are many crucial things that you should consider before writing it.
Ask the applicant for information
Request the applicant for a copy of their resume, cover letter, or any other document that will be included in the job application. This gives you the context of the information to include in the recommendation letter to support these documents. You can also ask them directly for any details they may need to include in the letter.
Conduct your own research
Conducting your research on the company, university/college, or target gives you a guide on what is required of the applicant. With this information researched, you are able to relate the applicant’s strengths to the needed requirements.
Choose the type of letter you are writing
This is where you evaluate n what the letter is needed for. The tone and language used in recommendation letters differ with the type of application. For instance, for a manager writing a recommendation letter for a former employee, the letter may tend to have a more formal tone and include more detail on the professional achievements of the applicant.
A character reference, on the other hand, from a relative or friend tends to have a more casual tone and describe the applicant’s personal characteristics and strengths.
Writing an honest recommendation letter with a well-detailed relationship to the applicant gives the reader a better understanding of the applicant. You should make sure you know more information about the applicant before agreeing to write them a recommendation letter.
Ensure you have observed or worked with the applicant over time.
- Can you outline their strengths and skills?
- Can you write detailed examples of the applicant’s performance?
- Do you have positive feedback you can give about them?
If you cannot provide the above about your applicant, let them know you cannot write the letter to avoid writing a recommendation letter with no quality.
How to Write a Compelling Letter of Recommendation
After agreeing to write the recommendation, it is now crucial for you to write the best letter to ensure the applicant gets the opportunity they are applying for.
Here are some points on how to go about writing a compelling letter:
Contact information in the letterhead
Your name and contact information should be written first at the top of the letter. Then write the contact information of the person the letter is to be addressed on the top left corner, that is, their full name, job title, name of organization/institution, address, and the date.
A polite and personable salutation
Greetings or salutations are the next steps in writing a recommendation letter. You can use “To whom it may concern” if you do not know the name of the hiring manager or addressee. In the instance, if you know their name, use “Dear first name” for the salutation.
Ensure your first line shows your enthusiasm to recommend the applicant.
How you know the applicant
Use this paragraph to introduce yourself and explain how you know the applicant. Show the reader how long you may have known the applicant and in what way.
Who you are
Ensure you tell the reader who you are, what is your profession or career. For example, if you are a teacher, a college professor, or a former manager use this paragraph to say it.
Establish your relationship with the applicant
It is important to give an establishment of your relationship with the applicant. This will further elaborate your connection to explain how you know the applicant and who you are to them.
Give words of praise
Make sure you remember to give words of praise to the applicant. Positive comments and enthusiasm entice the reader to consider the applicant more.
It is my great pleasure to recommend Chris for the position of assistant editor. As his university professor for the past three years, I have witnessed the amazing contributions that Chris has made to the community. He is not only an excellent and dedicated student but also enriched the lives of the entire college faculty. Chris is truly special for his compassion and commitment to helping others.
The second paragraph is where you give details of your applicant.
Showcase the applicant’s strengths/achievements
Ensure you showcase the applicant’s professional and academic strengths. Include their qualifications and achievements that support these skills and strengths. The reader needs to see what the applicant can deliver hence showing their best strengths and important achievements.
Share a personal story
You can use this section to share a personal story as an example to illustrate more of their best qualities, characteristics, or attributes. A personal story shows a better relationship between you and the applicant and helps the reader see a narrative in the letter.
Chris has committed himself specifically to the journalism department. He has been passionate about creating articles and newspapers and was involved in research on the issues faced by the community. He is deeply committed to his craft, having taken extra educational courses for most of his life. Chris has an incredible presence and editing skills. Not only does he give amazing performances in which the tasks he performs are done to the best. While he is certainly a talented individual, Chris has ensured he has put in countless hours to improve his skills.
After you are done writing the main parts, conclude the recommendation letter by explaining the reason for which the applicant is leaving the current position. Also, provide a convincing reassurance to the reader so they can be motivated to accept the applicant’s application. Give a closing statement by calling to action, like telling them that they can call you and ask questions.
Chris has my ecstatic recommendation. He is a calm, compassionate, hard-working, and strong person who has a clear sense of direction and purpose. I am confident that he will bring the same warmth, support, insight, and hard work to your organization. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have.
The last part of the recommendation letter is to close with a formal sign-off. Your name should follow the sign-off.
Format of a Recommendation Letter
Write the recommendation letter using a business letter format. Write a one-page length letter using the 12 font size and basic font style like for instance Times New Roman. Use the left alignment with 1.5 margins in your paragraphs.
Recommendation Letter Template
Given below is a template of a recommendation letter:
We Sell Stuff Co.
5 Seller’s Lane
Dear Managing Director,
It is my great pleasure to recommend (Applicant’s name) for (position applying for) (company/organization name). As his (your name, position) for the (time on position), I have witnessed the fantastic contributions that (applicant’s name) (performance). (Applicant’s traits). (Applicant’s name) is truly special for his compassion and commitment to helping others.
(Applicant name) has committed himself (positive trait). He has (positive characteristics). (Applicant name) has a (skills). Not only (positive characteristics). While he is certainly a talented individual, he (Traits and experience).
(Applicant’s name) has my ecstatic recommendation. He is a calm, compassionate, hard-working, and strong person who has a clear sense of direction and purpose. I am confident that he will bring the same warmth, support, insight, and hard work to your (organization). Please do not hesitate to contact me with/ any questions you may have.
Recommendation Letter Sample
Given below is a sample of a recommendation letter:
We Sell Stuff Co.
5 Seller’s Lane
Dear Managing Director,
It is my great pleasure to recommend Abbot for the position of assistant editor at Sell Stuff Co. As his university professor for the past three years, I have witnessed the fantastic contributions that Abbot has made to the community. He is not only an excellent and dedicated student but also enriched the lives of the entire college faculty. Abbot is extraordinary for his compassion and commitment to helping others.
Abbot has committed himself specifically to the journalism department. He has been passionate about creating articles and newspapers and was involved in research on the issues faced by the community. He is deeply committed to his craft, having taken extra educational courses for most of his life. Abbot has incredible presenting and editing skills. He gave the best and amazing performances in the tasks he undertook. While he is certainly a talented individual, Abbot has ensured he has put in countless hours to improve his skills.
Abbot has my ecstatic recommendation. He is a calm, compassionate, hard-working, and strong person who has a clear sense of direction and purpose. I am confident that he will bring the same warmth, support, insight, and hard work to your organization. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have.
Professor Martin Blacc
Mountain High University
Tips to Make an Effective Letter of Recommendation
Colleges and employers get plenty of resumes and cover letters. With an effective recommendation letter, you can set your student or employee apart from other applicants.
Here are some tips to make an effective letter:
Make the letter to the job at hand
Address your letter to the requirements of the opportunity. The letter should not be copy-pasted from another job; ensure it is specialized to the specific job. Ensure you show in your letter that you understand what the candidate is applying for and wholeheartedly you’re their support. This letter goes along with showing the hiring manager that this particular application is the best fit for the role.
Keep it positive
Make the letter positive and enthusiastic to show the best traits of the applicant. Highlight their exceptional skills and strengths to show them in the best light.
Start with enthusiasm
Be positive and ecstatic in your first line or paragraph. Using enthusiasm at the beginning of the letter ensures you capture the attention of the reader and put them in a mood to want to read the whole letter.
As Mary’s former project supervisor at ABC, it is my great pleasure to recommend her for the role of project assistant.
Explain why your opinion matters
When it comes to recommendation letters, the weight differs for different people. For instance, for university applications, a letter from a teacher may have a better impact than from a nurse. Showing the reader why your opinion matters gives them a better perspective of the applicant. The reader wants to view the perspective of someone who has seen the applicant perform various activities at their best strength.
This is why it is important to explain who you are and your relationship to the applicant as the reader understands the opinion.
Showcase the applicant’s essential qualification
The applicant’s achievements, qualifications, and success should be well highlighted to show why they are best for the opportunity. In addition, showcasing their capabilities tells the reader what to expect from the applicant in their organization.
Use 2 to 3 examples
Ensure you write examples of what the applicants may have done to support the achievements you have highlighted. These examples work as bonus points to highlight the competency level of the applicant.
If it is a new job for project management, choose a story where the applicant did a benefitting project for the people or a community.
- A recommendation letter is used to support the skills of the applicant.
- Ensure you are honest and detailed in your recommendation letter.
- Do enough research about the applicant and the position they are applying for to identify the requirements.