Recommendation letters are highly important for students and job applicants who need a third-party account of their attributes and qualifications. If you’ve been asked to provide a letter of recommendation, there are a few steps you can follow to help others find success.
First and foremost, find out;
What Letter of Recommendation Means?
Indeed.com defines Letter of Recommendation has a document you may be asked to prepare for someone who is applying for a job, internship, college application, leadership position or volunteer opportunity. The purpose of a recommendation letter is to validate what the employer has learned about the applicant and get answers to outstanding questions about their performance or habits.
Letter of Recommendation | An honest recommendation provides the recipient with a personalized account of your experiences with the applicant. You should, therefore, have at least some knowledge of how the candidate acts and performs in a work environment. Consider the following before you accept a request for a recommendation:
- Have you worked with or directly observed the applicant?
- Do you know relevant strengths and skills you can personally elaborate on?
- Do you have specific examples of the individual’s work?
- Can you provide positive feedback about this individual?
Read about: How to Write a Civil Engineering Project Report.
It’s important that to consider whether or not you can provide a quality recommendation letter before accepting a request. If you do not have enough experience with or positive stories to tell about the applicant, let them know quickly and respectfully that you are unable to meet the request. This way they have plenty of time to find an alternative solution.
3 Types of People that Need Letter of Recommendation
Below we’ve outlined all the various types of people and reasons a person might require one, as well as who to ask for one.
1. Students Applying for University, Grad School, or Scholarships
Almost all Universities and scholarship programs require at least two recommendation letters as part of the application process. These reference letters should ideally be written by previous teachers or professors who are familiar with your academic achievements and abilities.
Students need references because admissions officers and scholarship organizations want to get a better understanding of who they are as a person. Recommendation letters help to shed light on the “full-package” that is difficult to fully convey in a resume and personal essay.
2. People Applying for Jobs That Require Strong References
For most job applications, a well-written resume and cover letter are more than sufficient. However, certain industries or companies may require a letter of recommendation in addition to these basic essentials. Teachers and physician assistants are two such examples of jobs that often need a written reference as part of the application.
Generally speaking, the most convincing reference letters will be those written by a supervisor. In cases where this is impossible (or undesirable), a recommendation from a coworker who is intimately familiar with your work is also acceptable.
3. People Who Want to Beef Up Their Job Application
If you feel as though your resume and cover letter aren’t particularly strong, a letter of recommendation can help you land a job when it otherwise might be impossible.
This usually occurs when you have little or no work experience. In situations like these, a character reference from a friend, teacher, or family member can make all the difference when it comes to job hunting.
On the other hand, if you’re applying for a particularly competitive job, a strong reference from a previous employer can turn the tide and help you stand out from the crowd.
Most Recommended Phrase to Include in Letter of Recommendation
Your letter of recommendation should include four items:
- A brief introduction that states who you are, your relationship to the applicant and your personal experience or expertise. Also see How to Write an Artist Statement
- An overview of the applicant’s strengths as you’ve experienced them and as they relate to the recipient.
- A personal story that elaborates on one to two traits the applicant possesses.
- A closing statement that summarizes why the individual you are recommending would be a good fit for the opportunity.
If the candidate hasn’t provided you with an up-to-date resume and the job description, ask them to send those so that you are fully prepared to write the recommendation. You can use their resume to get a full understanding of their experiences and achievements.
You should review the job description to understand what the employer is looking for in a candidate. Use the description to decide what you should include from their resume and your personal experiences working with them.
9 Unique Step to Write a Recommendation Letter
According to resumegenius.com, Following these steps will help you create a convincing letter of recommendation that is sure to be an invaluable part of any application.
Step 1: A Polite and Personable Salutation
The way you greet someone when meeting them for the first time has a huge impact on their first impression of you. The way you address someone in a letter is no different. As such, it’s important to use a polite and personable salutation to start your letter off strong.
A proper salutation should be structured as follows:
Dear + Title + Name of Recipient
The title will vary depending on the individual you are writing to. For example, if you are addressing a hiring manager, you would use a general title such as Mr., Mrs., or Ms.
Dear + Mr. /Mrs. /Ms. + Hiring Manager’s Last Name
On the other hand, if you were writing to a Professor or someone with a Phd, you should use their professional title such as Dr. or Professor.
Dear + Professor + Professor’s Last Name
Ideally the applicant requesting the letter should provide you with the name of the person who the letter should be addressed to. If not, a bit of quick research on linkedin, or the company/university website should yield some results.
What should I do if I don’t know the name of the recipient?
When you don’t know the name of the recipient, you should still make your salutation as personable as possible. This means avoiding weak openings that make no attempt to directly address the reader.
Even if you don’t know their name you should never use To Whom it May Concern when addressing the recipient.
Here’s what you should do instead:
Dear + Title of Recipient
For example, if you are addressing a university’s dean of admissions whose name you don’t know, write Dear Dean of Admissions. Whereas if you are writing to the hiring manager of a company, write Dear Hiring Manager.
How should I address a letter to a body of people or an organization?
When addressing a body of people such as an admissions committee or board of directors you should follow the same principles as those outlined above. The only difference is that the title of the recipient should be replaced by the name of the group or organization.
Here is the exact formula:
Dear + Name of Group or Organization
The following examples give you a better idea:
- Dear Admissions Committee
- Dear Board of Directors
- Dear Rhodes Trust
Step 2: Start Your Introduction With a Punch
The first sentence of your recommendation is arguably the most important because it sets the tone for the entire letter. The best openers are those that immediately express the heartfelt and enthusiastic recommendation of the applicant.
Here are some useful phrases you can use to write a strong first sentence:
- It’s my pleasure to recommend…
- It’s my pleasure and honor to…
- I couldn’t be more pleased to…
- I have absolutely no reservations about recommending…
- I wholeheartedly recommend…
In comparison, a generic sentence that lacks enthusiasm such as “I am writing with regards to the recommendation for…” is both boring and weak.
Step 3: Establish Your Relationship
The remainder of your introductory paragraph should be devoted to describing who you are and your relationship with the applicant. This is an essential step because it establishes the relevance of your letter.
If you have known the applicant for a good length of time – and are in a good position to evaluate their strengths – then the potency of your letter multiplies. When establishing your relationship, you should include the following points:
- Your position and company/school
- The capacity in which you know the applicant
- How long you have known the applicant
By including these details in the very beginning of your letter, the reader understands the foundation of the relationship that your words are coming from. This context makes everything you say afterwards much more powerful.
Step 4: Give Words of Praise
Finish your introduction with a sentence or two highlighting some of the applicant’s key strengths or personality traits.
The following examples will give you an idea of how you should write yours:
- During that time, I watched Zach grow into an exceptional individual who excels in both his academic and personal pursuits.
- Gregory was always an outstanding member of our team, and I have always been impressed by his professionalism and admirable personal qualities.
Don’t worry about going into detail. The purpose of these sentences is to round out the first paragraph, while simultaneously serving as a sneak peak of what’s to come in the body of your letter.
Step 5: Showcase the Applicant’s Professional/Academic Strengths
Your first body paragraph should start by mentioning 2-3 of the applicant’s specific skills, talents, or experiences that are relevant to their target job position or college program.
It is essential that these points are then followed up with detailed and descriptive examples of the applicant’s accomplishments that prove the aforementioned abilities.
Take a look at the difference between the following two examples from a reference letter written for a project manager:
- Jill is great at managing projects.
Specific and detailed:
- Jill’s in-depth knowledge of Scrum Methodologies helped increase the amount of projects completed on-time and within budget by 23%
Not only is the second example far more compelling, but it also showcases the professional accomplishment the applicant has that would benefit her target job. When the reader sees these kinds of examples, they think to themselves, “This is the kind of performance I need at my company.”
Whenever possible, include interesting anecdotes about the applicant that demonstrate the strengths and abilities you described. This will create a more personable tone that makes the reader feel as though they are getting to know the applicant – one of the key aspects of a strong recommendation letter.
Step 6: Highlight the Applicant’s Best Personal Qualities
The next body paragraph should focus on 2-3 of the applicant’s positive personality traits and characteristics – particularly those that would be beneficial or desired by their target company or school.
One of the chief reasons universities and certain companies request letters of recommendation is because they want to get a more holistic understanding of the applicant as a person. Thus, only including their academic or professional achievements is not enough to create a persuasive letter.
Much like with the previous step, include relevant and specific examples or anecdotes to backup your claims. Let’s take a look at some examples: