How to write a letter of recommendation

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1. Letter of Recommendation Template Library 1: Student, College, and Teacher Samples

How to Write a Letter of RecommendationFor Students How to Write a Letter of RecommendationFor Grad School How to Write a Letter of RecommendationFor Scholarships
How to Write a Letter of RecommendationFor Teachers

Click Here to View All Student and Teacher Templates

2. Letter of Recommendation Sample Library 2: Employment Templates

How to Write a Letter of RecommendationFor Employees How to Write a Letter of RecommendationFor Coworkers How to Write a Letter of RecommendationCharacter Reference
How to Write a Letter of RecommendationLinkedIn

Click Here to View All Employment Related Templates

3. What is a Letter of Recommendation?

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation

A letter of recommendation (or reference letter) is a document designed to add extra weight and merit to a job or college application. They are usually written by a supervisor, colleague, teacher, or friend.

There are various different types of recommendation letters, but the three main ones are those for employment, for university applications, and character references.

Who Needs Letters of Recommendation? Why Do They Need Them?

Below we’ve outlined all the various types of people and reasons a person might require one, as well as who to ask for one.

1. Students Applying for University, Grad School, or Scholarships

Almost all universities and scholarship programs require at least two recommendation letters as part of the application process. These reference letters should ideally be written by previous teachers or professors who are familiar with your academic achievements and abilities.

Students need references because admissions officers and scholarship organizations want to get a better understanding of who they are as a person. Recommendation letters help to shed light on the “full package” that is difficult to fully convey in a resume and personal essay.

For more details on who you should ask to write your recommendation, check out our detailed guide on how to ask for one.

It is also acceptable to have your letter written by a coach, guidance counselor, or academic adviser who can speak to your strengths.

2. People Applying for Jobs That Require Strong References

For most job applications, a well-written resume and cover letter or letter of interest are more than sufficient. However, certain industries or companies may require a letter of recommendation in addition to these basic essentials. Teachers and physician assistants are two such examples of jobs that often need a written reference as part of the application.

Generally speaking, the most convincing reference letters will be those written by a supervisor. In cases where this is impossible (or undesirable), a recommendation from a coworker who is intimately familiar with your work is also acceptable.

3. People Who Want to Beef Up Their Job Application

If you feel as though your resume and cover letter aren’t particularly strong, a letter of recommendation can help you land a job when it otherwise might be impossible.

A character reference from a friend, teacher, or family member can make all the difference when it comes to job hunting.

Free Letter of Recommendation Templates

A Letter of Recommendation is a written and signed document providing feedback on performance, partnership, leadership of an individual someone has worked with. This is also known as a letter of reference.

Types

  • Date of recommendation letter
  • Name of the individual receiving the letter of recommendation
  • Business relationship
  • Attributes that make the individual successful (Potential, character, how they handle, consistency, dependability, etc.)
  • Contact information of the individual writing the letter of recommendation

It’s best to download a template that gives you guidance when preparing a Letter of Recommendation. You need to show some effort before asking someone to write you a letter.

Most people are busy with their own lives and it can be a hassle to sit down for a couple hours writing down all the great qualities of a person, no matter how highly you think of them. Before you ask and deliver your request, write a Letter of Recommendation for yourself with all the best qualities you believe you have.

It will allow the individual to easily sign or amend the letter and in most cases, that individual will add more compliments and nice things to say about you in the letter.

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation

2. Approach Respectfully

Ensure the appropriate party is available to discuss the potential of writing a letter of recommendation.

Typically you do not want to bother someone while they are working or during the hours when that person is having quality time with their family.

The best non intrusive way to ask for a letter of recommendation is by email, that way the person can find time within their own schedule to send you a reply.

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation

3. Be Patient

When giving someone a Letter of Recommendation, allow at least 1-2 weeks to hear back from your selected choice. Being pushy or nagging may help you receive the letter faster, but there is also a good chance that the letter will be less inspiring.

Nobody wants to do a favor for another person who goes about doing so lacking respect. Simply let the person know that you want it back on a specific date in 1-2 weeks.

If you know this person really well and they happen to be a forgetful individual, then it’s perfectly fine to give a few reminders throughout the week to ensure they do not forget about your Letter of Recommendation request.

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation

4. Receive and Review

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation Fast [Templates]

A letter of recommendation is a letter where the author details and vouches for the capabilities, character traits, and overall quality of the person being recommended. This can be from a professional, employment, academic, or personal perspective.

These letters are also called a reference letter, recommendation letter, letter of reference, or just reference. They are most commonly used in the hiring process as part of the employment verification step where they are called an employment reference or job reference.

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation

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How to Write a Letter of Recommendation

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[Today’s Date]

Dear [Mr./Mrs./Ms./To Whom it May Concern],

I am writing to recommend [full name of person you’re recommending] for [what you’re recommending them for].

I have known [person you’re recommending] since [date] as [capacity in which you’ve known the person, i.e. “good friend,” “co-worker,” etc.].

  • I have always known [person you’re recommending] to be [qualities the person has, such as “honest,” “loyal,” “hard-working”].

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation (With Examples) | Indeed.com

Easily apply to jobs with an Indeed Resume

Easily apply to jobs with an Indeed Resume

A letter of recommendation is a document you may be asked to prepare for someone who is applying for a job, internship, college application, leadership position or volunteer opportunity. The purpose of a recommendation letter is to validate what the employer has learned about the applicant and get answers to outstanding questions about their performance or habits.

Read more: What Is a Letter of Recommendation?

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation

An honest recommendation provides the recipient with a personalized account of your experiences with the applicant. You should, therefore, have at least some knowledge of how the candidate acts and performs in a work environment. Consider the following before you accept a request for a recommendation:

  • Have you worked with or directly observed the applicant?
  • Do you know relevant strengths and skills you can personally elaborate on?
  • Do you have specific examples of the individual’s work?
  • Can you provide positive feedback about this individual?

It’s important to consider whether or not you can provide a quality recommendation letter before accepting a request. If you do not have enough experience with or positive stories to tell about the applicant, let them know quickly and respectfully that you are unable to meet the request. This way they have plenty of time to find an alternative solution.

Related: 15 Tips for Writing a Great Letter of Recommendation

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Easily apply to jobs with an Indeed Resume

Your letter of recommendation should include five items:

  1. A brief introduction that states who you are, your relationship to the applicant and your personal experience or expertise.

  2. An overview of the applicant’s strengths as you’ve experienced them and as they relate to the recipient.

  3. A personal story that elaborates on one to two traits the applicant possesses.

  4. A closing statement that summarizes why the individual you are recommending would be a good fit for the opportunity.

  5. Signature including your name and contact information.

If the candidate hasn’t provided you with an up-to-date resume and the job description, ask them to send those so that you are fully prepared to write the recommendation. You can use their resume to get a full understanding of their experiences and achievements.

You should review the job description to understand what the employer is looking for in a candidate. Use the description to decide what you should include from their resume and your personal experiences working with them.

Read more: Letter of Recommendation Formats (With Templates and Examples)

Easily apply to jobs with an Indeed Resume

Whether you are writing a letter of recommendation for students or working professionals, your letter should have a similar structure. You should include a brief introduction, the applicant’s background and experience, a personal story and a closing statement. Use the following recommendation letter template as inspiration when drafting your own:

To Whom It May Concern:

It is my pleasure to strongly recommend [Applicant Name] for [Position With Company or Acceptance to Institution].

I am [Your Name], a [Your Position] at [Your Institution or Company]. I have [Number] years of experience working in [Your Industry or Academic Focus] and have seen many young professionals come and go. [Applicant Name] is one individual I have worked with who uniquely stands out.

During our time together, [Applicant Name] displayed great talents in [Skill, Trait, Experience, Class, etc.]. When we first met, I was immediately impressed with [Applicant’s Name], but during the time worked together, her understanding of [Key Topic] grew far more than that of her peers.

[Insert Personal Story Elaborating on Key Skills, Trait, Experience].

It’s not just her technical skills that impress me, however. [Applicant Name] was a joy to work with because of her amazingly positive attitude and [Positive Trait]. Her [Positive Trait] and [Positive Trait] were also necessary and valued not just by myself, but by her peers, who often relied on her to get the job done.

I am absolutely confident that [Applicant Name] would be a great fit for your [Institution/Company]. Not only will she bring the kind of skills and experiences you’re looking for in an applicant, but she will also quickly become an asset and help your [Institution/Company] grow in any way she can.

9 Sample Excellent Recommendation Letters for Your Job

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation

Anyone who's applied for a job knows how important recommendation letters can be to getting hired. While you've probably asked for a reference letter in the past, you may be less familiar with writing one. If someone asks you for a reference, how can you produce a great letter that will help your employee, colleague, or friend get hired?

To help you through the writing process, we're providing nine samples of effective letters of recommendation (scroll down to skip to the samples!). By reading through these examples, you'll gain a clear understanding of how to structure your own letters.

Before getting to the free recommendation letter samples, let's briefly review the role that reference letters play in the hiring process. Why are they important, and what makes some stand out over others?

Why Are Recommendation Letters Important?

Many employers request recommendation letters to help them decide who to hire or internally promote. Throughout the hiring process, the applicant strives to present herself in the best light. Beyond the interview and resume, hiring managers look to recommendation letters to confirm the candidate's qualifications and to gain insight from an outside party.

The hiring manager wants to know what experiences the candidate will bring to the new role, how she'll contribute to the company or organization, and how she'll behave in the day-to-day. Recommendation letters can point to a candidate's future performance by talking about her past achievements.

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation

  1. 1

    Use standard formal letter writing conventions to begin. A letter of recommendation is like any other professional communication, and follows the same general rules and guidelines.[1]

    • Place your address on the top right, followed by the date—spelled out.
    • Below that, on the left, place the recipient's name (if known) and address.
    • Open the letter with a formal business greeting. Ex:
    • Dear Ms. Smith,
    • Dear Sir or Madam, (if you don't know the recipient's name)
  2. 2

    Open with a short, but enthusiastic, bit of praise. Let the company know right off the bat that you believe in this person. You don't have to be over the top or insincere, but a positive note to start will make a big difference.[2]

    • “It makes me extremely happy to recommend Michael for the position of Director of Development at XYZ Corporation.”
    • “Any company should count themselves lucky to have an employee as bright, friendly, and dedicated as Gina.”
    • “No matter what she does, Helena Bonham does it well.”
  3. 3

    Describe how you know the person. Give some context for your recommendation. Let the reader know how you met them, how you worked together, and your basic qualifications.[3]

    • “As VP of Application Development, I was Michael's direct supervisor from 2009 through 2012. We worked closely together on several key projects, and I got to know him very well during this time.
    • “I was both Gina's adviser and teacher throughout her time at Hamilton College. I watched her shine both in the classroom and in office hours, and had the joy of watching her meet and then exceed expectations with her thesis.”
    • “As the Dean of Students, I deal with many young people throughout the day. However, I was lucky to spend several hours a week with Ms. Bonham in her role as Committee President. In my 32 years as Dean, I have rarely been so impressed.”
  4. 4

    Be specific about the candidate's qualifications and successes. Describe what the person has done using specific instances and examples, rather than generalities. Whenever possible, give evidence or stories to back yourself up.[4]

    • “Michael's sophisticated grasp of database architecture, combined with an innate feel for UX design and a warm, personal approach to his in-company client base dramatically improved the productivity of our company's merchandising, creative, and editorial departments. His approach to managing application support, maintenance, and training was highly professional and greatly respected, both by end users and by the executive team.”
    • “Gina was always inquisitive but never pushy. Despite being able to answer almost any question, Gina would rather sit back and help others find the answer for themselves. Countless students, who I thought were doomed to struggle, happily told me how tutoring sessions with Gina helped them turn the corner. And I had many conversations, both as her professor and a peer, that I will remember happily for years.”
    • “When Ms. Bonham hears the word “no,” you can almost see the gears start to turn. She is mover and a shaker — interfacing with students, faculty, staff, and even outside agencies to find solutions to any problem.”
  5. 5

    Make comparisons to illustrate their success. To put the candidate's accomplishments into perspective, include comparisons so that the recipient will have some basis to understand why you are recommending this person.[5]

    • “Michael's output of completed projects has exceeded the combined results of all other development efforts I've witnessed during my 8 years at UVW Company.”
    • “The best students are ones that genuinely love to learn. A student that pushes themselves ever day to learn more and be better, and enjoys every minute. Gina is that kind of student.
    • “I can say with confidence that my job working with the Student Committee was never easier, nor more enjoyable, than when I got to work with Ms. Bonham.”
  6. 6

    Don't exaggerate — show where and how they can improve. Don't put the candidate on a pedestal. Not only does it not look plausible, it will also set expectations for them that will be next to impossible to meet. If they have an Achilles’ heel, don't exaggerate it, but don't hide it, either.[6]

    • “Despite coming in as a novice, Michael has worked hard to improve his documentation and commenting of scripts and processes, making it easier for those filling his shoes in the future to work effectively.”
    • “Gina is always on the move — tutoring, taking classes, joining clubs, etc. — and though her schedule is perhaps too tightly packed, she somehow manages it all with a smile on her face.”
    • “Of course, Ms. Bonham's determination and drive occasionally led to butting heads and conflicting opinions. However, though she is never one to shy away from conflict, Ms. Bonham passion was never mean-spririted or rude.”
  7. 7

    Keep your writing action-oriented. Begin each paragraph with a punchy, active affirmation of the candidate's qualities or character. Strong verbs are your friend.[7]

    • Don't say “Over the course of the last couple years, I have been pleased to watch the ongoing development of Michael's talents.” Say instead, “Michael's skills have grown rapidly in the last couple years.”
    • “Gina exhibits the drive and dedication of the best students. Her writing is clear and concise, a rarity among many young people but effortless for her.”
    • “Ms. Bonham fights for what she believes is right, even if it doesn't mesh with her own preferences. This clear-eyed and selfless attitude will catapult her far in life.”
  8. 8

    Close the letter affirmatively. Reiterate your recommendation of the candidate and, if appropriate, invite the recipient to contact you.[8]

    • For example, say, “For all of these reasons, I think Michael will make a fine addition to your team. Should you have any questions, I invite you to contact me at the number or address, above.”
    • “Gina is the kind of person I would love to hire to work for me, and I know she will be an incredible asset for you.”
    • “I have no qualms about giving Ms. Bonham the highest recommendation for the position. If you have any questions, please contact me.”
  9. 9

    Use a business closing and sign your name. Above all, be professional. If the you're sending a physical letter, print it out and sign it by hand. Otherwise, just typing your name will do.[9]

    • “Sincerely,”
    • “Best regards,”
    • “Thank you,”
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Tips for Writing Letters of Recommendation for Employment

Other employers may ask for references further along in the hiring process, either at the end of an interview or afterwards.

These letters of recommendation carry significant weight to their recipients. If you're asked to write one, it's important to include details that build a strong case for the applicant. If you do not feel comfortable endorsing the applicant, it's better to decline to write a letter than to write something lukewarm.

If you’re asked to provide a reference for a specific job, you should write the letter with the requirements of that particular job in mind.

Read the posting or job description carefully, looking for specific skills and knowledge that you can include in the letter for your candidate.

In your letter, note where there is a match between the applicant's qualifications and the job's responsibilities. 

With a general recommendation letter, focus on the types or category of jobs for which the person is applying. Your examples in this type of letter will be more broad, and less specific. 

Ask the person for whom you are writing to supply you with a copy of the job posting and their resume or curriculum vitae (CV) before you begin composing your letter. It can also be helpful to review their cover letter to see how they themselves pitch their qualifications for the job.

When you are writing a more general recommendation, ask the subject of your letter to outline their targets for employment, along with providing you with an example or two of jobs they are applying for.

Also ask them to share their most marketable assets for that type of work, especially ones you may have observed in your relationship with the person you are recommending.

The more information you have about the jobs or types of jobs the candidate is applying for, the more effective your recommendation can be.

The first paragraph of your letter should explain how you know the person for whom you are writing. Reference your job title and the individual's job title at the time when you interacted, as well as the nature of your relationship, including whether you supervised the person you're recommending.

Typically, you would also include the length of time you have known the person. 

The Perfect Letter of Recommendation Template

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A new email arrives in your inbox and you see it’s from one of your former employees. You quickly glance over the subject line, and your eyes catch on one word: recommendation.

Immediately, your stomach drops. You know exactly what’s coming next—she wants you to write a letter of recommendation for her.

Of course, you’re flattered that she’d approach you with the task. But, on the other hand, you have to admit that you’re dreading it. Your schedule’s already packed, and this is just one more thing to add to your never-ending to-do list.

Even worse? You hate writing—meaning this duty is way more challenging and overwhelming than anything you feel prepared to tackle right now.

These letters can be a challenge to whip up—particularly when you want to craft something that’s well-written, personalized, and truly does that former employee justice to a hiring manager.

But, stress no more! Those requests no longer need to send you into a tailspin.

Here’s a basic template you can use to create the perfect one.

Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. [Last Name],

It’s my absolute pleasure to recommend [Name] for [position] with [Company].

[Name] and I [relationship] at [Company] for [length of time].

I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with [Name], and came to know [him/her] as a truly valuable asset to absolutely any team. [He/she] is honest, dependable, and incredibly hard-working. Beyond that, [he/she] is an impressive [soft skill] who is always [result].

[His/her] knowledge of [specific subject] and expertise in [specific subject] was a huge advantage to our entire office. [He/she] put this skillset to work in order to [specific achievement].

43 FREE Letter of Recommendation Templates & Samples

Do you need to write or request a letter of recommendation? If so, then it can be really challenging for you. You should definitely follow some tips and guidelines in order to help you write or request the recommendation letter.

In order to save your time, there are several letter of recommendation templates available you can choose from. Be it, letter of recommendation for student, letter of recommendation for teacher or college recommendation letter, you can find all types of recommendation letters on our main website.

Let’s help you gain a clear understanding of the nuts and bolts of a recommendation letter.

Letter of Recommendation Templates

Importance of Letter of Recommendation

Sample letter of recommendation for job are used to help employers decide who to promote or hire. During this process, the applicant pulls out all stops and struggles hard to present themselves in the best manner. Besides the resume and interview, the hiring managers see the recommendation letters in order to gain insight from the third party and confirm a candidate’s qualifications.

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With the recommendation letters, the employers just want to know what contribution the employee can give to the organization and how will they behave on a daily basis. Also, the job letter of recommendation tells them what would be the experiences of the candidate. In short, the job recommendation letters talk about future performance of the candidate highlighting their views from the past.

In addition to job recommendation letters, college recommendation letters are from students’ perspective. These letter of recommendation for student permits colleges to check out the potential students in order to find applicants who are respected by professionals. The recommendation letter also fortifies what is in the resume and application.

Additionally, a recommendation letter can also help college look over the personality of the student through the past school experiences. When asking for recommendations, make sure that you go to the professor or teacher who can paint in the best light otherwise negative recommendation would definitely leave a negative impact.

5 Tips for a Great Recommendation Letter for Your Master’s Application

Universities don’t only care about your grades and resume when they evaluate if you are the right candidate for their Master’s programmes. They also want to know what others think of your work, experience, wit and character. That’s why you’ll often be required to provide recommendation letters for your graduate application.

While some universities provide templates for writing a letter of recommendation, these templates don’t reveal much about what the commission will focus on and how they will evaluate it. But worry not, we’re here to shed some light on the whole affair!

Check out Masters abroad

What’s the difference between a letter of recommendation and a reference letter?

In the application requirements, you’ll either be asked to provide letters of recommendation or reference letters. You might think that they are one and the same. Sometimes even universities think so. But, in theory, the two are very different.

  • A “letter of recommendation” is required explicitly by an academic programme and should be sent directly to the university by the professor or employer without you seeing it. The document should be 300-400 words long and should present your character, accomplishments and abilities from an objective perspective.
  • A “letter of reference” is often given directly to you by the referee and you can keep it for future use.  Such a letter is normally addressed as “To Whom it may Concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam”.

This is why the recommendation letter is most often required by universities. It is personal and should speak of you in relation to their specific programme.

Who should you ask for a letter of recommendation for your Master’s application?

The short answer is that it depends on the programme you are applying to. Sometimes universities explicitly ask recommendation letters only from professors, or from both professors and employers.

If you have to provide a recommendation letter from a teacher, this document should focus on your academic skills and achievements. If you have to submit a reference letter from an employer, universities expect that letter to reflect skills that are relevant for your Master's.

When asking someone for a recommendation letter it is crucial that you pick the right person. Ideally, you should have known that person for at least six months before asking them for a letter.

Do not, under any circumstance, ask for a recommendation letter from:

  • someone who doesn’t know you well enough to vouch for your academic and work experience
  • someone who might not write you a favourable recommendation letter

When asking a professor for a recommendation letter, it should be someone with whom you worked closely and who interacted with you, for more than one course. And if you really want to impress the admission committee, you should also pick a professor that is an expert in the same specialisation as the degree you are applying to.

  • When asking an employer to write you a recommendation letter for your Master’s application, you should pick someone who can provide relevant info for that programme.
  • For example, if you are applying for a Master’s in a tech-related subject, it is more valuable to have a reference letter from your supervisor in a tech company rather than a reference letter from an employer where you worked in customer service, for instance.

What’s the structure of a recommendation letter?

A recommendation letter is a formal letter, so it is not the kind of document to get creative with. Your recommender should respect the following structure:

  • Introduction – Your referee will present themselves and their relationship with you (e.g. professor, employer, etc), as well as their general impression of you and the time they have known you for.
  • Content – Your referee will argue why they think you are the best candidate for that Master’s programme, mentioning your educational background, activities, and relevant personality traits.
  • Closing -Your referee needs to add a strong closing statement which vouches for your application, followed by a standard closing phrase and, his name, contact details and signature.

So, what are the secrets for an impressive recommendation letter?

1. Get your recommenders to mention diverse achievements

If you have to provide 2 or more recommendation letters, it’s smart to get people to write about two different aspects of your personality, achievements and academic potential. For example, one letter could focus on your research abilities, while the other could focus on classroom performance.

2. Help your recommenders with relevant info

Even if the person knows you, chances are that they do not keep a record of all your academic tests scores and achievements (that would be sooo weird). That’s why you should make it easy for them to write it by giving them information to work with:

  • your CV
  • a list of your academic achievements and grade point average (GPA)
  • a list of your extracurricular/ volunteer activities
  • the date by which they should submit the letter

3. The letter should always include examples of things you did

The person who recommends you should not simply list your skills, but also give examples of how and when you used them. It does not help to say that you have good research skills if they don’t give an example of a research project you did.

Find Masters abroad

4. The letter should show how you improved over time

Because the admission officers are well-versed and have seen thousands of applications, a letter that only praises you will sound unrealistic to them.

That is why it is very important that your recommender also talks about how you improved over time.

Perhaps when you started your Bachelor’s you were shy and not very active in class, but that changed over the years and now you are a great debater with a positive attitude.

5. The tone of the letter should not be too dry

As we said, a recommendation letter is a formal document. But you should not confuse formality with dryness. Admission commissions appreciate when recommendations are formal but personalised. That’s why a strong letter should really speak of YOU and avoid clichés that could be used to talk about any student.

If you get admitted, make sure you thank your referee with a formal note. Who knows, one day you might need his/her help once more! 

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