Knowing how to write a letter of recommendation can help you help your students or employees who are applying for college, a scholarship program, or a new job opportunity. A letter of recommendation is your chance to highlight relevant technical skills and other strengths that make an applicant a good fit for the opportunity they are seeking.
It’s easy to say yes to writing a letter of recommendation for someone, but it can be hard to sit down and write a compelling letter. In this article, we discuss how to write a letter of recommendation, share some letter of recommendation examples, and provide actionable tips to help you write a strong recommendation letter.
What Is a Letter of Recommendation?
A letter of recommendation, also called a reference letter or recommendation letter, is written by a supervisor, teacher, or coach about an applicant. It explains a person’s qualifications and talents, usually related to work, school, or extracurricular activities. The applicant needs to ask the letter writer for a letter of recommendation.
For example, a student is applying for a scholarship, and the application requires letters of reference. The student asks a teacher who knows them well to write a letter of recommendation. The teacher writes about the student’s academic performance and personality in a recommendation letter for a scholarship.
What Are the 5 Elements of a Letter of Recommendation?
- Heading and Address. For a professional letter of recommendation, put the date at the top of the page and the recipient’s name, job title, and address.
- Introduction. Start with a formal salutation to the person or organization you are writing the letter to. Next, write a brief statement about yourself, your professional or personal ties to the applicant, and your professional expertise.
- Personal Statement. Assess the applicant’s qualities based on your personal experience and how they make the applicant a great candidate. Write a personalized narrative that highlights the core qualities of the applicant.
- Conclusion. Use your conclusion to summarize why the person you’re recommending is a strong candidate for a specific position.
- Signature. Your signature should include your name and contact details, such as your phone number and email.
How to Write a Letter of Recommendation: Beginning and Ending
The beginning of a letter of recommendation should be eye-catching. Typically, it begins with a salutation and describes how you know the individual. Highlight your professional title and the applicants, as well as when and where you interacted with the person.
In the body of the letter, you can detail the skills, qualifications, and vital contributions of the individual you’re recommending. To end a letter of recommendation, you should write a final note explaining why the applicant is an excellent fit for the job, then finish the letter with a professional signature.
How to Begin a Letter of Recommendation
Whether you’re writing a letter of recommendation for students or professionals, the structure of the letter is pretty much the same. Like the majority of formal letters, a letter of recommendation begins with a salutation to the name or the position of the person to whom you are writing.
After the salutation, you should include an opening statement usually one or two sentences long. In this statement, write the name of the person being recommended, your relation to this person, and why you are qualified to write a letter of recommendation for them. You can also clarify why you’re writing the letter in the first place.
How to End a Letter of Recommendation
A letter of recommendation should end with a closing paragraph that includes a concise summary of the candidate’s good qualities and a clear statement that you recommend the candidate for the job, scholarship, or educational opportunity they are seeking.
The final line of a recommendation letter is similar to that of any other professional letter. Leave space for your handwritten signature and write your full name after signing off with a suitable phrase, such as “Sincerely” or “Kind Regards”.
How to Write a Letter of Recommendation: 5 More Useful Tips
Keep Your Assessment Positive
Your reference letter should state unambiguously that you believe the person you are writing for is a strong candidate for the opportunity they are seeking, whether it’s a new job or an application to graduate school. Any negative or even neutral comments should be avoided. If you can’t give a positive recommendation, it’s better to say no when you’re asked to write a recommendation letter.
Focus on Vital Qualifications
Highlight two to four of the candidate’s skills, credentials, and accomplishments that demonstrate the applicant is qualified for a given job opening or graduate program. You should also write about two to four positive personality traits like punctuality, a zest for learning, or an innate desire to help others accomplish their tasks.
Write Using Active Voice
For an effective letter of recommendation, use active voice instead of passive voice. In the active voice, the subject of the statement executes the action, while in the passive voice the subject receives the action. Active voice makes your letter concise and compelling.
Pay Attention To Formatting And Tone
When writing a letter of recommendation follow the formatting rules for a standard business letter. Use a standard font and print size for your letter of recommendation, such as Times New Roman 12-point font for printed letters or Arial 11-point font for electronically submitted letters. Use a standard business letter tone in your correspondence, and be formal and polite.
Follow The Submission Guidelines
Ask the candidate about their preferred method of submitting the letter. Make sure to follow any specific request instructions, like whether to submit the letter through an online portal or mail it to a specific address. Submit the letter before the deadline.
Letter of Recommendation Examples to Help You Write a Strong Letter of Recommendation
A letter of recommendation from a previous employer or manager can boost an application. If you are asked to write a letter of recommendation, it’s critical to devote the time and effort necessary to craft a powerful letter of recommendation that will help the applicant. Here are two letters of recommendation examples that can help you write a recommendation letter.
Letter of Recommendation Example 1: Job Application
A hiring manager may request a reference letter to verify the skills and performance highlighted in your resume. Here’s a sample letter for a recommendation for a job.
April 13, 2022
55465 Broadstreet Boulevard
Naples, Florida 10002
Dear hiring manager,
It gives me great pleasure and honor to recommend James Smith for a sales accountant role at Radea Express.
I’m David Coaster with over seven years of work experience in sales and business management, currently working as Sales Manager at Blue Dove Enterprise. I’ve engaged with many industry newcomers, but James made remarkable contributions to our sales department, uniquely standing out among his peers.
James was on my team for two years, during which he displayed an outstanding ability to interact with clients and identify their product needs. He solved customer complaints quickly and met his sales quota consistently. In the third quarter of his first year, he increased the sales conversion rate by 30 percent, helping the sales department rake in the highest profit in years.
Aside from these stellar skills, James’s positive attitude extended to his peers, and he often helped other salespeople generate new leads and establish a competitive price for new products. I am confident that James would be a great asset to Radea Express, with brilliant sales skills to meet business goals.
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I’d be happy to further discuss James’s capabilities and provide any additional information you need. Please contact me at 555-123-4567.
Blue Dove Enterprise
Letter of Recommendation Example 2: College Program Application
A recommendation letter is a valuable, and often required, document in the admission process for an academic program. It serves as evidence of academic skills and positive traits, giving admissions officers a good idea of the applicant as a student. Here’s an example of a recommendation letter for a summer research program.
April 13, 2022
Student Research Coordinator
Greenville Research Institute
67001 Allen Way
Dallas, Texas 23455-1001
Dear Glenda Riera,
I am honored to recommend Bridget Thomas for the summer research program at Greenville Research Institute.
I’m Sarah Adams, a senior lecturer with 10 years of experience in academia, particularly in teaching and curriculum development in business and data analytics. I’ve worked with many students, but Bridget made remarkable contributions to the class and displayed a real aptitude for creating data-driven business solutions.
Bridget was my student for one year, in which she displayed outstanding research and data analytics skills, competently deriving insightful information from big data. In the final phase of our course, she derived a unique distribution model for a local business case study, helping the business distribute farm-fresh produce to its customers in the face of unpredictable supply.
Aside from these stellar skills, Bridget’s positive attitude was a great help to other students, and she often helped others work through complex data problems. I’m certain that Bridget will be a great addition to the summer research program at Greenville Research Institute, with strong data skills to meet program goals and a team spirit to help other students succeed.
Please contact me at 555-123-4567 if you want to discuss Bridget’s qualifications. I would be happy to expand on her skills and provide any additional information you need.
How to Use Letter of Recommendation Examples to Write Your Own
You can use the letter of recommendation examples above to help you plan out the structure of your next recommendation letter. Make sure to highlight your significant accomplishments and skills relevant to the application, giving concrete examples when possible. Don’t forget to edit and check for grammatical errors before submitting.
How to Write a Letter of Recommendation FAQ
Similar to other reference letters, you should highlight the applicant’s personality trait, skills, work experience, and your relationship with the individual. You should also include any detailed examples that show why the candidate will succeed in medical school and make a great doctor. A detailed letter of recommendation will help the student get into medical school.
An applicant will ask you to write a letter of recommendation for a job application or college application as they go through the application process. You should receive a request for a reference letter before writing one. You should agree to write a reference letter if you have a meaningful connection to the applicant and have time in your busy schedule to finish the letter by the deadline.
You can’t write a recommendation letter for yourself, but your recommendation letter writer may ask you to write a draft. This way the letter writer knows what leadership skills, technical skills, professional achievements, and academic achievements are important to include in the final letter. The final letter must come from your recommender, and you can’t edit a recommendation letter after your recommender finishes writing.
If your recommender hasn’t finished their reference letter, send a reminder to your recommender along with information about the submission deadline. To avoid this awkward situation, make sure you give your letter writer plenty of time to write the letter. You should ask for a recommendation at least two weeks before the application deadline, but three weeks to a month is best.
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