How to Write a Letter of Recommendation

Penlighten Staff Sep 29, 2018
This write-up helps those who wish to know how to write a letter of recommendation, by providing some steps for writing the same. It also includes some tips that might prove useful to make your letter impressive.
Your colleague, as much as you hate it, is leaving and has asked you to write a letter of recommendation for another job he has applied for. Your first instinct is to write a bad one so he doesn't get the job and stays on, but that would be really juvenile.
You want what is best for him, personally and professionally. You can do just that, by writing a perfect letter, after you read the following steps.

Steps to Write an Effective Letter of Recommendation

Find out the reason for which you are writing this letter. Is the person concerned applying for a job, or is he trying to volunteer, or is it for a background check, as a personal reference or for an academic position. Once you know the purpose of this letter, you can focus on that very purpose.
Make a list of the qualities that the person would require for that particular position. Also, try to get a copy of the job specifications or description. This is so that you can learn more about the requirements of the applied post. This is to have an idea of the position in question.
If you know the person well, your task is much easier. However, if it is a person who you do not know personally, or with whom you haven't had contact for a while, in such a case it is best to get your hands on his/her resume to be well informed.
Also talk to the person to know more about him/her. But remember that while you are referring to a resume for a recommendation, do not include exactly the same things as mentioned in it. That is, try to give your own impressions about the candidate.
Find out to whom the letter must be addressed, as it is a much better approach than "To whomsoever it may concern". Also, spell the name right and get the right designation of the person.
Open the letter with the appropriate salutation. Remember this is a formal letter so Dear Ms/Mr. or Dear Sir/Madam (when the name is unknown) is acceptable.
Clearly state at the beginning of the letter that you are in fact recommending the candidate and for which position. This will help the reader and save precious time if you are not recommending the concerned person.
Inform in brief how you know the concerned person and also give your qualifications, job designation, and company name. This gives you some credibility and adds to the person in concern's overall application.
Give a description of the person's qualification and how valued he/she has been to the organization. Also, stress on the person's strengths and team player abilities. Furthermore, give a brief note on the candidate's personal qualities. Use words like mentor, encouragement, and team spirit.
End the letter by restating that you are recommending the person and also if possible include an invitation for further correspondence if necessary. Close the letter with a business closing and also with your signature. Appropriate closing lines would be 'sincerely' and 'best regards'.

Tips to Write an Impressive Letter

  • Do not write the letter by hand, always type it.
  • If you are writing the letter for the first time, always use the recipient's full name.
  • Set the tone of the letter by keeping it fact-based and business like.
  • Be honest yet complimentary.
  • Do not put negative comments about the candidate.
A recommendation letter can make or break a person's career, so think before you agree to write or before you write it.
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