Writing a Letter of Recommendation

When asked to write a letter of recommendation, one might be honored and overwhelmed simultaneously. Writing such a letter requires a balanced approach wherein one must be honest yet supportive. Thus, it is vital to understand how to appropriately praise and critique at the same time.

Starting the Process

Before beginning to write the letter, one should understand its purpose. Knowing the candidate's desired position or role provides insight into what to emphasize. Learning about the job, academic program, or award in question can also guide the writer effectively.

Essential Introduction

A well-crafted introduction grabs the reader's attention. The introduction should briefly state the writer's position and relationship with the candidate. Additionally, it should express the writer's willingness to recommend the individual for the respective position or award.

Body of the Letter

In the letter's body, specific examples should be provided to showcase the candidate's qualifications and skills. These examples should align with the requirements and expectations of the position or opportunity the candidate seeks. Hence, each letter of recommendation will be unique.

Highlighting Strengths

Discussing the candidate's strengths is essential. These strengths should be relevant to the position. If the candidate is applying for a job, highlight their professional skills and accomplishments. For academic applications, focus on their academic achievements and passion for the subject.

Addressing Weaknesses Tactfully

It might be necessary to address weaknesses. Weaknesses can be mentioned if they highlight growth, improvement, or determination on the part of the candidate. However, this section should be approached with care to avoid disadvantaging the candidate.

Sharing Experiences

Personal experiences shared between the writer and the candidate can offer a unique insight. It's beneficial to recount specific instances that illustrate the candidate's character and qualifications. These stories make the letter engaging and provide a deeper understanding of the individual.

Providing Comparison

Comparing the candidate to others in a similar position offers context. It helps the reader understand the candidate's standing among peers. However, comparisons should be fair and factual to maintain the letter's credibility and integrity.

Letter Conclusion

The conclusion is crucial as it summarizes the recommendation and provides a final endorsement for the candidate. Restating key points and expressing confidence in the candidate's success in the prospective role solidify the recommendation provided.

Offering Further Assistance

The writer should express their willingness to provide additional information if necessary. Including contact information and a statement of availability for follow-up questions demonstrates a commitment to supporting the candidate's application.

Reviewing the Letter

A recommendation letter should be reviewed thoroughly before submission. Checking for grammatical errors, ensuring clarity, and verifying that all of the relevant points that have been covered are essential steps in crafting a polished letter.

The Final Touch

Before sending the letter, the writer should inform the candidate that the letter has been completed, keeping them in the loop. This gesture demonstrates respect for the candidate and allows them to manage their application process effectively.

Considering the Medium

It is key to understand where the letter will be submitted. Different mediums might have varying requirements regarding length, format, and content, so it's essential to ensure the letter meets these specifications for its effectiveness and reception.

Utilizing Templates Wisely

Although templates can offer a helpful structure, each letter of recommendation should be personalized. Relying too heavily on templates may result in a letter that lacks warmth and sincerity. Therefore, one should use templates as a guide but infuse the letter with personal insights and experiences.

[Your Name]
[Your Title/Position]
[Your Institution or Company]
[Your Email Address]


[Recipient's Name]
[Recipient's Title/Position]
[Recipient's Institution or Company]
[Recipient's Address]

Dear [Recipient's Name],

I am writing to enthusiastically recommend [Candidate's Name] for [Position or Opportunity] at [Recipient's Institution or Company]. As [Your Relationship with the Candidate, e.g., supervisor, professor], I have had the opportunity to observe their contributions and growth over [time period].

[Candidate's Name] has consistently demonstrated qualities of a dedicated and skilled [relevant skill or quality]. Their ability to [mention a significant skill or trait relevant to the position] has been a significant asset to our [class, team, or organization].

In their role as [Candidate's Previous Position], [Candidate's Name] successfully undertook projects that required [mention specific skills, attributes, or experiences relevant to the position]. For instance, [provide a specific example that illustrates the candidate's abilities or achievements, explaining the context, actions taken by the candidate, and the positive outcomes].

[Candidate's Name] is highly adept at [mention another key skill or quality]. This was evident when [provide another specific example that demonstrates this skill or quality in action, with context, actions, and outcomes].

Compared to peers, [Candidate's Name] consistently outperformed in [mention areas where the candidate excelled]. Their commitment to [mention relevant responsibilities, tasks, or projects] has not only facilitated personal growth but also positively impacted our [class, team, or organization].

Given [Candidate's Name]'s proven skills, dedication, and track record of accomplishments, I am confident that they would be a valuable addition to your [team, program, or institution]. I strongly recommend [Candidate's Name] for [Position or Opportunity] without reservation.

Please feel free to contact me at [Your Contact Information] should you require any additional information or clarification regarding this recommendation.


[Your Signature]
[Your Typed Name]

Being Timely

Submitting the letter in a timely manner is not only respectful to the candidate but also essential for the application process. Deadlines should be strictly adhered to. If the writer is unable to complete the letter promptly, they should inform the candidate as soon as possible.

Final Thoughts

Crafting a thoughtful and effective letter of recommendation is a responsibility that should be approached with care. Through understanding the candidate and the position they seek, the writer can construct a letter that is both compelling and supportive, thereby aiding the candidate in their pursuit of opportunities. Following these guidelines ensures the creation of a recommendation letter that is professional, persuasive, and truly reflective of the candidate's capabilities and potential.