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Sometimes in order to be considered for a new job or a promotion, a work colleague or former student may ask you to write a letter of recommendation for them. A carefully thought out and well-crafted letter of recommendation will speak to a person’s professional abilities, confirm their tenure at a job, and shed light on their strengths and accomplishments.
Take a look at our free recommendation letter samples below and use our expert tips to help create an effective version of this very important document.
How to Write an Recommendation Letter
The main purpose of your professional recommendation letter is to highlight someone’s work history and abilities. To do this well, try to avoid clichŽs and broad, generalized statements; instead, make it a personal celebration of your past workmate or pupil’s qualities and qualifications, as seen in our recommendation letter samples.
Be Specific: The more that you can pinpoint someone’s specific work experience, responsibilities, and results in your letter of recommendation, the more likely the reader will truly appreciate them for their unique and individual abilities. Be sure to consider the needs of the position the recommendation letter is supporting, and then point out how the person you worked with or taught meets those qualifications. Listing individual achievements, awards, and certifications is always a great idea.
Be Personal: In addition to measurable work achievements, it’s a good idea to address personality and work ethic. Highlighting a person’s creativity or their ability to work in a team and/or individually can help the reader decide how the candidate can best fit in their organization.
Be Sincere: When writing your letter of recommendation, be sure to include only what you truly appreciate about a person and why. If you overwrite your letter with flowery language or exaggerate the impact of the person’s actions, it may come off insincere and do more harm than good.
Be Concise: Keep your letter of recommendation polite, professional, and to the point. One to two paragraphs should be more than enough. Take a look at our recommendation letter samples for tone, length, and language suggestions.
How to Format an Recommendation Letter
To keep the tone professional, your letter of recommendation should be written in the style of a traditional business letter, as demonstrated in our recommendation letter samples above. Always be sure to use the recipient’s name in the greeting and then use the opening paragraph to express your sincere recommendation of the subject for the position they’re applying for. In the following sections, reference the capacity in which you worked with or taught the person (including the length of time you knew them) and their qualifications, making note of the direct positive impact of their actions in your workplace or in a class. In closing, thank the reader for their time and consideration, personally signing the letter, whenever possible.
Common Recommendation Letter Mistakes
¥ Using Excessive Flattery: Too much praise can make it seem like you’re tryingto oversell the subject and may make the reader view your recommendation as some sort of insincere tactic. (See our recommendation letter samples for proper examples.)
¥ Not Saying No: If you can’t write a glowing review of someone’s work performance or character, it’s probably best not to write them a letter of recommendation. You can always be clear about your reasons not to in hope that they’ll learn from the experience.
¥ Not Proofreading: Sending out a letter of recommendation full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors suggests that you didn’t truly appreciate the subject enough to take your time to properly recommend them.
You’ve Written Your Recommendation Letter. Now What?
A concise and sincere letter of recommendation, like the ones in our recommendation letter samples, can be a truly powerful and impactful correspondence. The next step is making sure your recommendation letter gets into the right hands at the right time.
Do Your Research: Take the time to seriously consider your colleague or student and the position for which they are applying. The more specific you can get about the job qualifications and how their skills can meet them, the more effective your letter of recommendation will be.
Be Prompt: Your letter of recommendation should be sent out as soon as possible, as time is often of the essence when it comes to job applications and promotions. If you can’t write your letter in a timely manner, be sure to let the subject know so they can consider waiting or asking someone else.