Letters of recommendation are often written on behalf of students applying to educational programs or job applicants. A letter of recommendation should include phrases of introduction, as well as phrases that describe the qualifications of the person for whom the recommendation is written. A recommendation should also include phrases that demonstrate the connection between the person who is writing the recommendation and the person for whom it is written.
As with the opening of any letter, you should begin your recommendation with a phrase that informs the recipient of the letter what the purpose of your letter is -- a recommendation, and whom it is that you are recommending. Some useful phrases might be: "This is in response to your recent request for a letter of recommendation for [name of the person]" or "I am pleased to be able to write this letter of recommendation for [name of the person]." Other possible introductory phrases include "I have no hesitancy in writing a letter of recommendation for [name of person]" or "I am delighted to be called upon as a reference for [name of person]."
Phrases that Describe Qualifications
Many education programs and jobs are looking for specific characteristics that jibe with the nature of the program of study or type of work involved. Try to consider the specifics of the situation when choosing qualifications to emphasize in your letter of recommendation. Some useful phrases might be: "a creative problem-solver," "careful attention to detail," "communicates ideas clearly," "follows tasks through to completion," "has a flair for organization," "communicates effectively in writing," "is a tireless worker," and "works independently and effectively." Consider also including phrases that are descriptive of the person's nature and work habits. Phrases such as: "always cheerful and dependable," "completely loyal and trustworthy," "is innovative and creative," "gets along well with others," "is mature beyond her years," "punctual and hardworking," and "outstanding leadership skills." Consider balancing the superlatives with the addition of one or two minor "weaknesses" that you have noticed, such as "enthusiasm sometimes leads her to exhaustion" or "shy in groups until she gets to know others."
Phrases that Demonstrate Connection
How long you've known the person and in what capacity should be included in your recommendation. Try phrases such as: "first became acquainted with," "have known [the person] since," "have been [the person's] supervisor since," "was a student in [number] of my classes," "has been a pleasure to supervise" and "has worked directly under my supervision." You might note that a person you are recommending began as your student, but became, in time, a valuable assistant. You should make note of changes you have seen in maturity, skill and expertise over time, as well.
In concluding your recommendation, consider phrases such as: "I am, therefore, very pleased to be able to recommend [name of person]" and "based upon my time working with [name of person], I recommend her very highly." You can also make it known to the person to whom you are addressing your recommendation that you are available if they should need clarification. Use phrases like: "if I can further assist," "if you need additional information," "should you have any questions" and "I hope this information proves helpful."
- Photo Credit Ciaran Griffin/Lifesize/Getty Images