20 Best Letter of Recommendation Samples (How to Format)

Recommendation letters are important because they corroborate the skills an applicant provides on their application. In this article, we have provided the best and professionally crafted sample letters of recommendation, but first, let us understand what it is:

It is a formal letter that demonstrates the skills and performance of another person through the writer’s description of their professional, academic, or otherwise relevant experience with that person.

Obtaining it is typically required for those seeking admission into an academic or professional program or an interview for a job opening, but they are also used to apply for volunteer and leadership positions. Therefore, if you work closely with students or employees, it is likely that you will be asked to write these letters for them. The main goal of it is to recount your experience with the candidate and highlight the positive qualities that may serve them in their desired position. 

This letter can paint a more honest picture than a resume or cover letter. The candidate wants to show themselves in the best light. Still, many employers will not waste time writing it if they have had a negative experience with an employee.

It is one thing for a candidate to say they are a problem solver, but it is more impressive to have a letter attesting to a past employer’s personal experience with how they addressed specific issues in the workplace successfully.

Additionally, these letters can give a clearer insight into who the applicant is as a person. Resumes tell facts, not stories, but as the writer, you can shed light on the candidate’s personality by conveying your personal experiences with them. Also, there’s only room for so many bullet points on a resume. When writing it, you may be able to highlight the applicant’s achievements that did not fit on their resume. Overall, it is an excellent space for admissions departments and potential new employers to get an idea of who the candidate is as a person. This is why it can determine if an applicant is offered a spot in a program or called in for a job interview.

Letter of Recommendation Templates

It serves as a testament to one’s abilities, character, and achievements, making it a crucial document in various spheres, such as academia, employment, or personal endeavors.

Following are samples and templates for you that are editable:

Sample employment recommendation letters

Employment Recommendation Reference Letter will focus more on the job for which the candidate is applying and if he/she possesses the skills and experience to carry out the job.

Employment Recommendation Reference Letter



    Sample personal recommendation letters

    Personal Recommendation Letter focuses on the personality and characteristics of the candidate and it is much more personal than others.

    Personal Recommendation Letter:



      Sample academic recommendation letters

      Academic Recommendation Letters discuss work ethics and educational experience. A Recommendation Letter is like a personal recommendation but written from a more formal perspective about the candidate as a professional in their field.

      Some examples of recommendation letter samples are:

      Academic Recommendation Letters



        Sample business recommendation letters

        Business Recommendation Letters can either represent a whole entity, such as a company, or they can focus on a candidate in a business setting and how they are equipped for the job.

        Business Recommendation Letters




          Sample promotion recommendation letters

          Promotion Recommendation Letters are a declaration of why a candidate should be receiving an increase in pay or promotion and a general Reference Recommendation takes a little bit from almost all of the other letters above, creating a generically formulated letter for multiple uses.

          Promotion Recommendation Letters



            Pre-Writing Considerations

            If you agree to write it for a student or employee, it should only be because you can personally attest to their quality skills or performance. Since you’ve had a positive experience with the applicant, it is only fair to write it carefully to give them the best chance of success.

            Before you begin writing, follow the steps below to ensure you have all the information you need for a great letter:

            Speak to the candidate before writing

            While you will ultimately draft the letter, it is still a collaborative task between you and the applicant. Before you write it, make sure to communicate with the candidate to learn more about what role they are seeking, why they want it, and how it relates to their goals. It can be helpful to view their cover letter to see the candidate’s application strategies.

            You want to make sure your letter fits nicely into the larger package of their application and adds your personal experience of the skills they wish to highlight. The applicant may even recall specific experiences with you that they would like you to include in the letter from your perspective.

            Review their resume

            The candidate has likely had other academic or professional opportunities outside of their experience with you. Looking at their resume helps you understand their overall background and experiences. You can use this knowledge to build on more of their strengths that are not highlighted in the resume. It is always nice if you can offer feedback on the resume as well.

            Request bullet points

            It’s not a bad idea to ask the candidate for a list of skills or experiences that qualify them most for the position. You may want these in bullet point or paragraph form. Not only does this save you time, but it also ensures that you’re highlighting the qualities the candidate wishes to present. If you’re comfortable with it, you can even rewrite a draft provided by the applicant in your voice.

            Collect additional information

            Along with the resume, you may wish to collect the candidate’s curriculum vitae (CV), cover letter, and a copy of the job posting. Sometimes, applicants who are applying for multiple positions request more general letters of recommendation. In this case, ask for examples of at least two jobs they’re considering. It’s also helpful to know what the candidate views as their most marketable skills in the line of work that they’re seeking. Request that the applicant list skills that are best suited to the job and the skills you witnessed in your work with the applicant.

            How to Write a Recommendation Letter

            These letters need to follow a clear and organized format.

            To write it properly, including each component described below:


            The heading should be placed in the top left corner. Include your name at the top and underneath that, write your job title, your company or school’s name and address, your contact information, and the date. Leaving space in between also includes the recipient’s name (if addressed to someone specific), their title and company, and their address. The company, school and address will suffice if there is no specific recipient.


            If you can address your letter to a specific person, it is best to do so and include a salutation. “Dear Mr./Ms. (insert name):” is the typical choice. Always use a professional prefix, such as Dr., when it applies. When it is unclear who will receive it, you may choose to skip the salutation or use “To Whom It May Concern:”.


            While the letter is mainly about the candidate, it’s important to take a few sentences to introduce yourself and your area of expertise. This will give the letter an authentic voice. Be clear that your purpose in writing the letter is to recommend the candidate. Provide context by describing your position and relationship to the applicant, as well as how long you’ve known them.

            Body of the letter

            The body should illustrate the candidate’s skills and strengths. Before writing, determine the most relevant qualities that you could include in it. Then, think of cases in which your candidate has shown you those skills. Any general statement about positive abilities should be followed by personal experiences where you have seen them in action.

            Read the following tips for more in-depth advice on writing the body of this letter:

            Focus on the most important qualifications

            Instead of describing every single quality of the applicant, focus on a few specific skills or achievements that you can present in 2-3 paragraphs. This will give you room to add details, specificity, and your personal experience of the candidate’s performance. Instead of simply stating a qualification, narrate a specific occurrence where you witnessed the candidate perform and handle challenges. One way to organize qualities is by using one paragraph to describe achievement and the other to speak to the candidate’s character or personality by mentioning traits like work ethic or determination.

            Prepare a list of qualities

            From looking at the resume and job posting (if applicable) and communicating with the candidate, make a list of the applicant’s best and most relevant achievements and qualities to highlight in the body paragraphs. The candidate may have ideas about their most marketable skills, but be sure to ask for skills you have specifically observed in your relationship with them.

            Use 2-3 specific anecdotes

            Connect the candidate’s qualifications to specific examples where you have seen them apply the skills to their work or studies. It’s great to think of a problem the candidate faced and overcame using their unique abilities. Adding 2-3 anecdotes enhances the candidate’s application by providing evidence that backs up the skills found on their resume. An excellent way to show their skills in action is by describing a few of the candidate’s achievements. Just be sure that you witnessed them and that you chose examples that cater to the demands of the role.

            Quantify the candidate’s strengths

            When highlighting a candidate’s achievements, try not to be too vague about what the accomplishment truly is. If you can, back up the strength of a client’s performance by giving quantifiable detail.


            If your employee helped increase sales, give a statistic on exactly how much sales increased. If statistics aren’t available, you can provide quantification by ranking the candidate among others.

            If you’re writing for a student, you may say, “She received the highest grade in my class that semester.”

            Speak of their potential

            Be sure to connect any of the candidate’s skills that you present in the letter to their ability to succeed in the role. What about the candidate’s performance, ability to work with others, initiative, etc., that prepares them for the specific role they’re seeking? Consider how what you have experienced with the candidate speaks to the positive impact they will make in the position.

            Letter closing

            To conclude your letter, write a closing statement that summarizes it, bridging together all the positive qualities of the candidate you mentioned. Be clear about how the positive qualities of the candidates will relate to success in their new position and restate that you highly recommend them for the role.

            Your email address and/or phone number may be included in the concluding statements or after your signature to provide a way for them to contact you and ask more questions. When providing this contact information, let the recipient know that you would be happy to further discuss the applicant’s strengths.


            Finally, end the letter with your signature, name, and title. The most common closing is to use “sincerely” above the signature. However, since mostly they are typed, leave space about your name and title for a physical signature once printed.

            Template for a Recommendation Letter

            [Your Name]

            [Your Position/Title]

            [Your Company/Organization/Institution]

            [Your Contact Information: Address, Phone Number, Email]


            [Recipient’s Name or “To Whom It May Concern” if the recipient is unknown]

            [Recipient’s Position/Title]

            [Recipient’s Company/Organization/Institution]

            [Recipient’s Contact Information: Address, Email]

            Dear [Recipient’s Name or “To Whom It May Concern”],

            I am writing to wholeheartedly recommend [Candidate’s Name], whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for [Duration] as [Your Relationship to the Candidate, e.g., “my student,” “a colleague,” “an employee”]. During this time, [he/she/they] consistently demonstrated exceptional qualities that I believe make [him/her/them] an outstanding candidate for [Purpose of the Recommendation, e.g., “your graduate program,” “the position at your company,” “the scholarship”].

            [Candidate’s Name] has shown remarkable [Skill/Quality #1], [Skill/Quality #2], and [Skill/Quality #3] throughout [his/her/their] time with [Your Company/Organization/Institution or “me”]. For example, [he/she/they] [describe a specific achievement or project that highlights these qualities], showcasing [his/her/their] ability to [describe the impact of the achievement/project]. This is just one instance of [his/her/their] capability to exceed expectations and contribute significantly to [relevant context, e.g., “our team’s goals,” “academic pursuits”].

            In addition to [his/her/their] impressive professional/academic achievements, [Candidate’s Name] possesses a strong character, marked by [mention personal qualities, e.g., “integrity,” “perseverance,” “compassion”]. [He/She/They] has a natural ability to [describe how these personal qualities have been demonstrated, e.g., “connect with others,” “overcome challenges”]. These attributes have not only made [him/her/them] a valued member of [Your Company/Organization/Institution or “our community”] but also someone who elevates those around [him/her/them].

            [Optional: If applicable, mention the candidate’s teamwork skills, leadership abilities, or any other qualities that make them a good fit for the opportunity they are seeking.]

            I am confident that [Candidate’s Name] will bring the same dedication, excellence, and passion to [Purpose of the Recommendation] as [he/she/they] has shown in [his/her/their] endeavors with [us/me]. [His/Her/Their] unique blend of skills, experience, and personal qualities makes [him/her/them] an ideal candidate for [mention again briefly the opportunity, e.g., “your program,” “the role,” “the award”].

            Please feel free to contact me at [Your Phone Number] or via email at [Your Email] should you require any further information or specifics regarding [Candidate’s Name]’s qualifications and accomplishments. I am eager to provide any assistance that may help in your decision-making process.

            Thank you for considering this recommendation. I am confident that [Candidate’s Name]’s contributions will be an asset to [Recipient’s Company/Organization/Institution or “your endeavors”], and I look forward to witnessing the continued success [he/she/they] will undoubtedly achieve.


            [Your Signature, if sending by mail]

            [Your Name]

            [Your Position/Title]

            [Your Company/Organization/Institution]

            Recommendation Letter Samples

            Sample 01

            Dear Hiring Manager,

            I am writing to recommend Jamie Rivera for the entry-level position at Zenith Enterprises. As Jamie’s professor in the Business Administration Department at Westside University, I have had the opportunity to observe Jamie’s academic performance and personal growth over the past four years. Jamie has consistently demonstrated a high level of dedication, intelligence, and initiative, qualities that I believe will make them a valuable asset to your team.

            Jamie’s academic achievements speak volumes about their capability and work ethic. They graduated with honors, achieving a GPA of 3.8 in a competitive program. Jamie’s coursework, particularly in areas such as strategic management and finance, provided them with a solid foundation in business principles. Furthermore, their capstone project on “Innovative Strategies for Small Businesses in the Digital Age” was awarded the best research project of their graduating class. This project not only showcased Jamie’s ability to think critically and innovate but also their skill in applying theoretical knowledge to practical, real-world business challenges.

            Beyond academics, Jamie has shown remarkable leadership and teamwork skills. As the president of the Business Leaders Club, Jamie led various successful initiatives that benefited not just club members but also the local community. One notable project under Jamie’s leadership was the “Future Entrepreneurs” workshop, which connected students with local business leaders to foster mentorship and networking opportunities. Jamie’s ability to lead, plan, and execute such impactful programs demonstrates their readiness to take on professional challenges.

            Jamie possesses a unique blend of analytical prowess and creative thinking. They are not only capable of detailed quantitative analysis but also bring innovative solutions to complex problems. Jamie’s interpersonal skills are equally impressive; they communicate effectively, listen attentively, and work collaboratively, making them well-equipped to thrive in a team-oriented environment like Zenith Enterprises.

            In conclusion, Jamie Rivera’s academic background, leadership experience, and personal qualities make them an outstanding candidate for the position at Zenith Enterprises. I am confident that Jamie will bring the same level of enthusiasm, dedication, and excellence to their professional endeavors as they have to their academic pursuits. I highly recommend Jamie without reservation and believe they will be a great addition to your team.

            Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require further information or have any questions about Jamie’s qualifications and achievements.


            Professor Anna Richardson

            Department of Business Administration

            Westside University

            Sample 02

            Dear Ms. Harris,

            I am writing to wholeheartedly recommend my esteemed colleague, Alex Johnson, for the Senior Engineer position at NextGen Technologies. Having had the pleasure of working closely with Alex for over five years at Innovatech Solutions, where we collaborated on numerous high-profile projects, I have witnessed firsthand the depth of his technical expertise, his unwavering dedication to excellence, and his remarkable ability to lead.

            Alex’s technical skills are exceptional. On a project developing a pioneering software solution that leveraged machine learning to optimize supply chain logistics, Alex’s innovative approach and deep understanding of both software development and data analysis were instrumental in the project’s success. His work not only exceeded our client’s expectations but also resulted in a 25% improvement in efficiency, setting a new benchmark within the industry.

            Moreover, Alex’s leadership capabilities are outstanding. He naturally assumes a mentorship role within teams, guiding junior engineers with patience and insight. Under his leadership, his team successfully delivered complex projects ahead of schedule and within budget, demonstrating his ability to manage resources effectively and inspire his team to achieve their best work.

            Alex also possesses a rare combination of technical acumen and interpersonal skills. His ability to communicate complex technical information in an accessible manner has made him a valued liaison between our technical teams and non-technical stakeholders. This skill has been crucial in securing project buy-ins and facilitating collaborative problem-solving sessions across departments.

            Above all, Alex is a person of impeccable character. He approaches every challenge with integrity and a positive attitude, fostering a collaborative and inclusive environment. His commitment to continuous learning and professional development is evident in his pursuit of the latest industry certifications and his active participation in professional engineering associations.

            I am confident that Alex will bring the same level of expertise, leadership, and dedication to NextGen Technologies. His technical skills, combined with his leadership qualities and professional integrity, make him an exceptional candidate for the Senior Engineer position. I have no doubt that he will make significant contributions to your team and help drive your company’s success.

            Please feel free to contact me at m.thompson@innovatechsolutions.com or 555-987-6543 if you need further information or wish to discuss Alex’s qualifications and achievements in more detail.


            Michael Thompson

            Senior Project Manager

            Innovatech Solutions

            Sample 03

            To the Promotion Committee:

            I am writing to wholeheartedly recommend Jason Martinez for the position of Senior Marketing Manager at Vertex Communications. As Jason’s direct supervisor for the past three years, I have observed his remarkable contributions to our department, his exceptional leadership abilities, and his consistent drive for excellence that have significantly impacted our company’s success.

            Jason joined our team as a Marketing Coordinator and quickly distinguished himself through his innovative ideas, strong analytical skills, and unwavering commitment to our goals. His campaigns have not only exceeded our targets but have also set new standards for creativity and effectiveness within our industry. Notably, his leadership on the “Global Reach” campaign resulted in a 40% increase in international market penetration, a testament to his strategic vision and his ability to execute complex projects successfully.

            Beyond his contributions to our campaigns, Jason has been instrumental in building a collaborative and high-performing team. He has mentored several junior staff members, fostering their professional growth and helping them to achieve their own successes within the department. His approachable and inclusive leadership style has enhanced team cohesion and productivity, creating an environment where creativity and innovation flourish.

            Jason’s commitment to professional development is evident in his pursuit of knowledge and excellence. He has proactively taken on additional responsibilities, such as leading our department’s digital transformation initiative, which has significantly improved our operational efficiency and digital outreach. His forward-thinking and results-oriented approach have been critical in adapting our strategies to meet the changing demands of the market.

            Given Jason’s proven track record, his leadership qualities, and his unwavering dedication to our company’s success, I am confident that he is the ideal candidate for the Senior Marketing Manager position. His promotion would not only recognize his contributions and potential but would also be a valuable investment in the future growth and success of Vertex Communications.

            I strongly support Jason Martinez’s promotion and am available to provide further details or discuss his achievements and qualifications. Thank you for considering this recommendation.


            Diana Foster

            Director of Marketing

            Vertex Communications

            Key Takeaways

            The provided sample recommendation letters effectively advocate for the respective candidates by highlighting their qualifications, accomplishments, and suitability for the positions they are being recommended for. Here’s why these letters are useful samples for readers:

            Clear Introduction and Relationship: Each letter starts with a clear introduction stating the sender’s relationship with the candidate. This establishes the credibility of the recommender and sets the context for the recommendation.

            Specific Examples and Achievements: The letters provide specific examples of the candidates’ achievements, skills, and contributions in their respective roles. These examples add credibility to the recommendation and give the reader a clear understanding of the candidate’s capabilities.

            Academic and Professional Credentials: The letters highlight both academic and professional credentials of the candidates, showcasing their educational background, relevant coursework, and professional achievements. This comprehensive view helps paint a holistic picture of the candidates’ qualifications.

            Leadership and Teamwork Skills: Each letter emphasizes the candidates’ leadership and teamwork skills, demonstrating their ability to lead projects, mentor colleagues, and foster a collaborative work environment. These skills are essential for success in any professional setting and are highly valued by employers.

            Personal Qualities and Character: The letters also touch upon the candidates’ personal qualities and character traits, such as integrity, dedication, and positive attitude. These attributes are important considerations for employers looking for candidates who will fit well within their organizational culture.

            Confidence and Endorsement: The recommenders express strong confidence in the candidates’ abilities and endorse them wholeheartedly for the positions they are being recommended for. This level of endorsement can positively influence the reader’s perception of the candidates’ suitability for the roles.

            Availability for Further Discussion: Each letter concludes with an offer to provide further information or discuss the candidates’ qualifications in more detail if needed. This shows the recommender’s willingness to support the candidate’s application and reinforces the sincerity of the recommendation.

            Overall, these sample recommendation letters effectively convey the candidates’ qualifications, skills, and potential contributions, making them valuable resources for readers seeking guidance on crafting their own recommendation letters.

            When to Decline a Recommendation Letter Request

            Sometimes, candidates do not request such letters from the people most suited to the task. Before accepting a request, consider if you’ve worked directly with the applicant, observed any relevant skills, and can give specific examples of their positive performance. If you do not know this information about the candidate, you may not be the right person to write them a letter. Additionally, if your experience with a candidate has been more negative, they are much better off requesting a letter from someone else.

            If you decide that you cannot provide an authentic quality letter, it’s perfectly acceptable to decline the request. While the applicant may be disappointed, it only serves them best to find someone who can write a strong recommendation. When denying a request, you don’t have to go into specifics. Instead, you can simply say that you don’t have enough experience to write a good letter to the candidate.

            Tips for Writing a Letter of Recommendation

            While following sample letters is a great start, it can still be hard to choose the content to provide in the letter.

            The following tips will help you make sure you are writing it most appropriately:

            Keep it positive

            These letters are not the place for constructive criticism. Every part should highlight the candidate’s strengths and how they are fit for the role. At the same time, they are meant to be honest. If you cannot truthfully express a positive view of the candidate, it’s best to decline the request to write it.

            Use a standard business letter format and tone

            They are formal and should follow the guidelines for addressing a business letter. See the sample section for examples of this format. It’s standard to use Arial 11-point font for letters submitted online and Times New Roman 12-point font for printed letters. Keep inch-wide margins and single spacing. It is also essential to include your name, address, contact information, and, date at the top of the letter, as well as the same information for the hiring manager and their company. Utilize an official letterhead if you have one. Try to limit the letter to no more than a page (but at least two-thirds), with 3-5 paragraphs.

            Follow the submission guidelines

            Ask the applicant for instructions on how to submit it, any special formatting requests, and the deadline. If sending via email, make sure to attach the letter as a WordDoc or PDF instead of pasting it directly into the message space. Submitting a late or improper letter will reflect poorly on the candidate’s application.

            Customize your letter to the specific job

            Each time a candidate applies for a different position, their application is stronger when tailored to the exact role and company rather than the general work they seek. First, ensure you have all the details of the position they are applying for to explain why you recommend them for the exact role. Then, approach the letter to convince the hiring manager that they’ve found the perfect match.


            You can connect the mission of the company to the candidate’s specific goals.

            Explain why your opinion matters

            The source of the letter must come from an unbiased source and someone who has professional insight. You’re likely writing the letter for an employee, not your best friend. Establish your place as someone qualified to recommend the candidate. Did you supervise them in a professional setting? In what context did you witness their superior performance? Explaining your role and experience gives the letter more authority.

            Be enthusiastic

            Positive statements about your candidate don’t hold enough weight if they’re weak or indifferent. Use a bold opener to ensure you draw in the recipient from the beginning.


            “it’s my great pleasure to recommend..,” “I wholeheartedly recommend…,” “It’s my honor to recommend…,” etc. These starters are more effective than “I am writing to recommend.”

            Use active voice

            Active voice, rather than passive voice, makes for a stronger letter of recommendation. In active voice, it is clear who is performing the action and who is the subject. “I turned in the assignment” is an active voice. “The assignment was turned in” is in passive voice. Active voice flows better, provides clarity, and helps keep sentences concise.


            If the letter contains many grammatical errors, it makes the writer seem less credible or less passionate about the candidate. Read through it multiple times to avoid this. Additionally, reading out loud and showing the letter to a friend can help you catch more errors. Make sure that you’re looking for more than just grammar, however. It is also important for it to sound natural, be organized, and contain clear sentence fluency.

            Final Thoughts

            While it’s sad to watch students or employees move on, writing such a letter is a great way to show appreciation for all they’ve done for you in the past. Plus, if they succeed in obtaining their desired role, it speaks positively of your organization. You can ensure the strong recommendations that candidates need by following the above advice and prioritizing honesty, specificity, and personal experience.

            About This Article

            Ryan Powell
            Authored by:
            Professional Business Management, Quality Assurance, Human Resources, Supplier Management
            With over 15 years in professional business management and an additional 4 years in e-commerce, Ryan Powell has distinguished himself as a strategic leader, steering sites to generate revenues exceeding $100 million. His approach emphasizes proactive problem-solving and profit optimization. Personal attributes such as strong organization, time management, and team collaboration bolster his professional portfolio. Ryan's experience spans leadership roles from Supervisor to General Manager, with notable contributions in Tier 1 Aerospace sectors, partnering with industry leaders like Boeing and Raytheon. He's adept at quality assurance, aligning with AS/ISO 9001 standards, lean methodology, financial management, including P&L oversight, and human resource strategies that prioritize employee retention. Ryan's comprehensive skill set positions him as an invaluable asset to growth-focused organizations.

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