A letter of recommendation may be required for someone to be considered for a job, grant or admission to an educational program. If someone asks you to write a letter of recommendation, that person feels you know him and his qualifications well. It is important that you agree to write the letter only if you feel you can honestly recommend the candidate for the specific position. The individual's acceptance may depend on how your letter portrays her as a professional, so it is important to write an effective letter while also being honest.
Address the letter to a known recipient by entering the person's title and name as the first line of the address. If the recipient is unknown, the name of the business or department are both appropriate. Use "To whom it may concern" followed by a colon as the salutation below the address.
State the name of the person you are recommending and for what position. This helps the recipient avoid the misconception that he is reading a general letter written for many different positions.
State how long you have known the individual, how well, in what capacity and how you met.
List positive characteristics of the person, such as, "he possesses excellent leadership skills" or "she works efficiently under pressure." Tell of specific things she has done to make you feel she possesses these characteristics. General praises can be misconstrued as insincere.
List any related experience the individual has and why you feel it is a benefit in the desired position.
Tell how the individual has improved in specific areas and in what areas she is still improving. Including more than just the positive characteristics adds credibility to your reference.
Mention your own qualifications if they are in line with the position. This solidifies you as a reference by convincing the recipient that you are credible and knowledgeable.
Proofread your letter, and have someone else look over it as well. Glaring mistakes may work against the individual applying for the position.
Tips & Warnings
- Type the letter on letterhead rather than plain white paper.
- Do not disclose information about the individual's personal circumstances without written permission.
- Focus on professional and education information about the individual. A large amount of personal information is not appropriate in a recommendation letter.
- Write three to five paragraphs. A short letter may imply that you do not know the candidate very well.
- Sign the letter in blue or black ink.
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