Career Development

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation

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If you need to write a recommendation letter for someone you know relatively soon, or maybe you merely want to be prepared for future requests that require you to compose them. In cases like these, this how-to piece will help you write recommendation letters with confidence. This article will define what a recommendation letter is and show you how to write a letter of recommendation.

What is a recommendation letter?

A recommendation letter is a letter someone writes for a person applying for a role like a job, internship or volunteer position. Someone could ask you to write one if they are applying to a college or for a scholarship. 

Writing a recommendation letter starts with assessing how well you know the person and how to describe them using adequate, positive examples. The recommendation letter should contain your honest opinion, including character traits they display in a professional setting.

If someone asks you to write a recommendation letter, find out when you need to submit the letter to make sure you will be able to meet the deadline.

How to write a recommendation letter

Follow these steps to write a recommendation letter:

1. Firstly, format the page

Begin by typing your full name and address in the upper left corner of the page. Next, put the month, day and year in the upper right. Move the cursor down a couple of lines and type the recipient’s name and address on the left side of the page, if you know that information.

Using a consistent format for your recommendation letter conveys professionalism and attention to detail, which could show that you are credible to the reader.

2. Secondly, choose a formal greeting

Use a formal business greeting to address the recipient. Doing this shows them that you acknowledge the serious nature of the letter. If you know their full name, include it in the greeting. If you’re not sure of the person’s name, write: ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ or ‘To Whom It May Concern.’ 

3. Thirdly, describe the purpose of the letter and your relation to the person you are recommending 

After greeting the recipient, build the body of the letter by explaining the purpose of the letter. For example, you could say: ‘I am extremely happy to recommend Bailey for the Customer Service Manager role at Smith Robotics.’ Then, say something straightforward and positive about the person, like, ‘Bailey is a diligent worker, and any company would be lucky to have them.’

Finally, state how you know the person, and how long you have known them and how long you have worked with them. You can explain your role and relationship to the subject of the letter. For example, ‘I’ve been the Camp Director at Chesterfield Summer Camp for three decades, and I had the pleasure of supervising Jules for the last four summers.’

4. Next, add specific examples of the recommended person and their work 

You can use several relevant, real-life examples to help the reader better understand the subject’s traits and abilities. Think of situations where the person stayed calm under pressure, showed their ability to be a team player or otherwise went beyond expectations.

For example, ‘Alex’s willingness to show leadership is especially impressive, especially considering they’re relatively new to the workforce and recently graduated college.’ Using that technique highlights how you noticed outstanding qualities, enabling the reader to create a richer mental picture of them.

The best examples will relate to the role that this person is applying for. Also, discuss character traits that you believe makes this person a good choice for a position or a workplace in general. You might mention how punctual the person is, how they were never late for a shift and were reliable.

5. Moreover, keep a balanced perspective

Keep your perspective as balanced as possible. You’ll show you can view the person’s characteristics by appreciating their strengths and not overlooking areas for future growth. You might say, ‘Carter’s strong work ethic meant that he sometimes took on too many tasks. He worked hard to set boundaries, and I noticed progress in that regard, especially within the last six months that I worked with them.’

6. Finally, complete the letter with a positive affirmation and an invitation to contact you 

In the last section of the recommendation letter, repeat your confidence that the person is the right person for the opportunity. You can summarize why you feel that way. For example, you could say ‘Due to the reasons mentioned above and others not listed here, I have no hesitation about giving Riley my highest recommendation for this position.’

End your letter of recommendation by inviting the recipient to contact you using the details at the top of the letter. Use a formal closing phrase like ‘Sincerely’ or ‘Best Regards.’ If you’re sending a physical letter, don’t forget to sign your name by hand above the typed signature.

Recommendation letter example

To Whom it May Concern:

I am pleased to strongly recommend Jordan Smith for the Head Copywriter position at Morrison Marketing.

I am Avery Jones, a Copy Manager at Words Unlimited, and I have more than four years of experience in the copywriting industry. Due to my leadership position, I have supervised many young professionals. Jordan stands out for numerous reasons, including her outstanding work ethic and determination.

During her time at our organization, Jordan displayed an excellent understanding of how to write in the client’s voice and meet the audience’s needs. I was also impressed with how her understanding of search engine optimization updates grew over time, and how skillfully she applied that new knowledge to their copywriting work. It was in these areas that Jordan especially surpassed her peers. Although Jordan lacks the industry experience of some other team members at my company, she made up for it with consistent dedication.

Besides her excellent copywriting prowess, Jordan demonstrated a positive attitude, willingness to take on new challenges and attentiveness. Those things made them an asset to the company and its team members, as well as to me. 

Due to these reasons and the many other positive traits she possesses, I have no hesitation in saying that Jordan would be a great addition to the Morrison Marketing team. She has the background and skills the position requires, plus the soft skills that make her able to excel and thrive in this role.

If you need more information or examples to assist with your decision making, please get in touch with me using the contact details provided in the header of this letter.

Sincerely, 
Avery Jones