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A Guide To Writing A Letter Of Recommendation [The Right Way]

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Are you struggling with writing a letter of recommendation? You’re certainly not the only one. It’s something that not many people have to do and, when asked, may feel intimidating and overwhelming.

You want to do the best you can for the person who asked for your help, but where do you start? And what exactly should you include? Don’t worry, there are many options for writing one, and we’ll help you along the way.

Why You Might Have To Write a Letter of Recommendation

At some point in your professional career, no matter which industry you work in, you’ll likely be asked to write a letter of recommendation. These letters testify to your expertise in your field and how well you know a specific individual’s abilities.

You might be asked to write a letter of recommendation if you’re a teacher or professor, manager at a company, volunteer coordinator, coach, and more. There are many different scenarios that could apply here.

The most common scenarios occur when a student asks a teacher for a letter of recommendation and when an employee asks a boss or manager.

Is Writing a Letter of Recommendation Difficult?

In short, it can be at first, but it doesn’t have to be! There are easy rules to follow that will ensure you complete the best and most effective letter of recommendation that you can (based on what you know about the person it’s for).

Some basics of letters of recommendation are more difficult than others; it’s important to note. These may have a lot of guidelines and rules set down by the organization requesting the letter. You must ensure you meet these expectations while remaining authentic and truthful.

With some information about a letter of recommendation and what it takes you to write one, you’ll have yours finished in no time.

What Are the Main Parts of a Letter of Recommendation?

If somebody asks for a recommendation, it’s important to organize your thoughts in a way that is both professional and captures the essence of the person you’re writing about.

1. Introduction

The introduction is what sets the tone for the rest of the letter. This should grab the reader’s attention in some way while also signaling your authority on a subject, organization, or position.

In this section, you should write about how you know the person the letter is about (perhaps noting that you were their instructor for one or more classes or that you coached them while they were on a high school sports team, etc.).

This section is highly important as it lets the reader know who you are to the letter’s subject. You should answer the question, why should someone care what you have to say about the individual?

2. Background and Overview

The next section is also important. The background and overview section gives the reader all the information you can (in a limited number of words) about the individual.

How do you know them, and what do you know about them? When did you see them succeed? What strengths and attributes make them stand out from other potential applicants? These are some of the many questions you might consider answering.

3. Anecdotes and Specifics

The next section is a little harder to complete, but if you know the individual well, it won’t be too hard.

Here, you need to include specific anecdotes about the person. These are short notes about things they’ve done or interactions with you. They should demonstrate the person’s professionalism and strengths while also letting the reader know why they are the best person for a specific job/position.

4. Summary of Recommendation

Lastly, comes the summary of your recommendation. This should summarize what you said before, including the person’s strengths and why you think they’d be a good choice for whatever they’ve applied for. You should re-highlight their talents and abilities while maintaining your enthusiasm about them as a person.

What Should You Avoid in a Letter of Recommendation?

There are many types of letters of recommendation, so there are no hard and fast rules about what you must avoid in a recommendation letter. However, there are things that these types of letters are better off without.

  • General Langauge or Broad Descriptions: General language and broad descriptions are very easy to add to any letter of recommendation but are better left off. These are examples of vague or generic-sounding language that make it hard to understand who the person is.
  • Clichés: A cliché or a very commonplace statement in letters of recommendation are also things that you will definitely want to avoid. They can make your writing sound less professional and your endorsement less sincere.
  • Too Much About Your Relationship With the Person: You’ll want to talk about your relationship with this person, but it’s best to keep it brief. In three sentences max, explain how you know them. When sharing information, focusing on their skill and accomplishments is more important.
  • Anything Negative: This one might be conscious, but it’s very important to make sure that you avoid saying anything negative about the person you’re supposed to be recommending.
  • Embellishing Details: Something else you will want to avoid is exaggerating your relationship with this person or lying in any way about their accomplishments. You want to maintain your credibility along with the applicants.

What Makes a Strong Letter of Recommendation?

Strong letters of recommendation have a few common features. These include:

  • Specific Accomplishments: Of the utmost importance is including specific accomplishments in your letters of recommendation. This could be something the person has achieved in their academic life, as a leader, or any other notable contributions that you can think of.
  • Anecdotes To Back Up Claims: Also important is including anecdotes that back up your claims about the persona’s life and talents. Make sure to cite specific instances in which this person proved trustworthy, determined, professional, etc.
  • Touching on Motivation, Skills, Ambitions, Attitude, and More: The best letters of recommendation include discussions of an individual’s character and skill. What motivates them, though, is just as important. What are their ambitions and attitude toward life?
  • Specifics About the Program or Job They’re Applying For: Often overlooked in recommendation letters is tailoring the letter to the position the person is applying for. This adds a personal touch and tells the reader that you care enough about this person to take the time to personalize your letter.

How Long Should a Letter of Recommendation Be?

Letters of recommendation are of varying lengths, but most people don’t want to go beyond a page. This ensures that there is enough information for the letter to be effective without it going overboard.

How Do You Write a Good Letter of Recommendation?

There are a few steps to writing a good letter of recommendation. These are discussed in detail below:

How Do You Start a Letter of Recommendation?

It’s highly recommended to start a letter of recommendation with a statement that catches the reader’s attention and sets the tone for your relationship with the person. This establishes your credibility and lets the reader know why they should listen.

How To Write a Letter of Recommendation for College

To write a letter of recommendation for college, it’s important to focus on the individual’s academic achievements and experiences while in high school.

How did they grow? What did they learn?

You might also want to touch on how you saw their ambition grow and mention anything that connects their ideals to those of the college they’re applying to.

How To Write a Letter of Recommendation for Grad School

Writing a letter of recommendation for grad school is very similar to writing for someone attending undergraduate school.

These letters should focus on the student’s academic achievement, why they’re applying to graduate school, and why you think they’d be a great fit for the program.

Make sure to mention how dedicated they are to the subject matter they care about.

How To Write a Letter of Recommendation for an Employee

When writing a letter of recommendation for an employee, include everything you can about their work ethic, dedication, ability to learn and grow, and leadership skills.

Potential employees want to know that applicants care about the job and aren’t just in it for the money.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a common frequently asked question about letters of recommendation:

How do you write a simple letter of recommendation?

To write a simple letter, you want to write a brief introduction, a concise overview of who the person is and how you know them, briefly mention a few examples of their behavior, and then end with a short summary.

Wrapping Up

While writing a letter of recommendation can seem difficult at first, you can craft a highly effective letter with a few simple steps and a solid structure.

When writing, always remember to provide the reader with specific examples of the individual’s behavior and emphasize their dedication to whatever they’re applying for.

Make sure to leave a comment if you have any questions!

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