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How To Write A Letter Of Recommendation: Format & Templates

23 min read

letter of recommendation

A letter of recommendation is like vouching for someone you know to a prospective employer or an institution. Simply put, it’s a note where someone says, “Hey, this person is awesome, and you should give them a chance!”

Writing one can feel like a huge task. First, you must know the person well enough to write a recommendation. Second, there are certain formatting rules and features to how a recommendation letter is written.

When writing one, remember to keep it positive. Talk about the person’s skills and expertise that you’ve had experience with and mention that you have known them for a while. Your personal touch can make a difference.

The recommendation letter format generally follows the same format as formal letters. This guide talks about how to write a recommendation letter extensively. It can be used to understand its requirements along with common templates and examples.

What is a letter of recommendation?

A letter of recommendation is a professional endorsement written by someone who knows your work well. It highlights your skills, achievements, and suitability for a specific role or academic program. It serves as a credible testament to your capabilities and contributes positively to your professional or academic profile.

The recommendation letter is used by prospective employers to gain additional knowledge about a candidate. It should hint toward:

  • Personal qualities
  • Work performance
  • Professional background
  • Areas of strength
  • Skills and abilities
  • Career potential

If you’re writing a recommendation, it’s best if you have worked or studied with the candidate. The candidate should share their resume and the job description they’re applying for with you. This helps in creating a more tailored and effective recommendation.

When do candidates need a letter of recommendation?

Candidates typically need a letter of recommendation when they’re applying for jobs, internships, academic programs, or scholarships. It’s a way for others to vouch for their skills, experiences, and suitability for the opportunity they are pursuing.

requirements of letter of recommendation

Here are some scenarios with the requirement of a recommendation letter:

  1. Job Applications: When applying for a new job, especially if the employer requests or values references.
  2. College or Graduate School Applications: Many educational institutions require letters of recommendation as part of the application process.
  3. Internship Applications: Similar to job applications, candidates often need recommendations when seeking internships.
  4. Scholarship Applications: Applying for scholarships often involves providing letters of recommendation to support the application.
  5. Professional Networking: When setting up professional connections, having recommendation letters can strengthen one’s credibility.
  6. Promotion or Internal Opportunities: Within a current workplace, employees might need recommendations when applying for promotions or internal positions.

Letter of recommendation format

The letter of recommendation format follows the same format as formal letters. Here’s a breakdown of the typical structure for a letter of recommendation:

  1. Date
  2. Recipient Information:
      • Name
      • Title
      • Address
  3. Greeting:
      • Address the recipient by their name if possible (Dear Ms/Mr).
  4. Introduction:
      • Start the main part of your letter by introducing yourself and explaining your connection to the applicant.
  5. Recommendation:
      • Clearly state why the candidate is well-suited for the role. Use specific examples of skills or qualifications.
  6. Anecdote or Example:
      • Share a personal story or example that illustrates the candidate’s qualities. This could include workplace skills or interpersonal strengths.
  7. Closing:
      • Summarize why you are recommending the person.
  8. Contact Information:
      • Provide your email address and phone number for any follow-up inquiries.
  9. Signature

Format:

letter of recommendation format

Contents of a letter of recommendation

The contents of a letter of recommendation should give a full picture of a person’s abilities and qualities. It should talk about how they performed in past jobs or tasks, what experience they have, how smart they are, and what personal traits they have, like leadership, teamwork, perseverance, and communication skills.

contents in letter of recommendation

 

Here are the must-have contents in a well-drafted recommendation letter:

1. Introduction and background

While you are writing the introduction of the letter of recommendation, see that you clearly identify with the candidate. You also need to know the position they’re seeking to achieve with this letter. 

It is helpful to offer details about the type of experience you share with the candidate and how long you have known them, providing a foundation for the reader to understand your perspective.

2. Specific assessments

When you’re talking about the candidate’s abilities, get into the details. Share real examples and evidence that show why they’re skilled. 

Talk about stuff like how motivated and dependable they are, and how great they are at solving problems. Remember to stick to work-related experiences, and avoid saying anything that might make people question if they’re the right fit. Keep it focused on why they shine on the job.

3. Summary recommendation

When wrapping up your recommendation letter, give a quick overview of the key points. Clearly say if you recommend the candidate for the position. Keep it simple and direct – no fancy words or clichés. 

If you can, compare them to others by saying something like, “They rank in the top 10% of all similar candidates I’ve seen.” This adds extra info to your recommendation. Just aim for clear and straightforward language that gets your point across.

4. Special circumstances

When dealing with personal stuff that might affect the candidate’s history, it’s important to talk to them first. Ask how they want to handle it, if they need any advice, and how much they are willing to share. 

Frame challenges as chances for the candidate to show how tough and resilient they are. It can actually make their recommendation stronger. Keep the candidate in the loop and turn obstacles into opportunities in your letter to highlight their ability to overcome tough situations.

6 steps to write a letter of recommendation

Here are six easy steps to write an impressive letter of recommendation:

1. Address the recipient

Begin with a friendly “Dear [Recipient’s Name]” to establish a warm tone and a personal connection.

2. Introduce your relationship

Open a paragraph by explaining your relationship with the person and why your opinion matters. Highlight your relevant experience or context.

Example

Having worked closely with [Candidate’s Name] as their supervisor for the past three years at [Company], I am well-acquainted with their exceptional work ethic and leadership qualities.

3. Highlight qualities and achievements

Detail why you recommend the person, focusing on specific achievements and qualities. Provide concrete examples to strengthen your recommendation.

Example:

[Candidate’s Name] consistently exceeded sales targets, demonstrating exceptional perseverance and strategic thinking. Their innovative approach to project management streamlined processes, resulting in a 20% increase in team efficiency.

4. Summarize with a strong recommendation

Conclude this section with a succinct summary reiterating your strong endorsement. Clearly state your confidence in the candidate.

Example:

In light of [Candidate’s Name]’s proven track record and remarkable skills, I wholeheartedly recommend them for the [Job/Program].

5. Offer to Discuss Further

Extend a friendly offer to provide more information or answer any questions the recipient may have. Encourage open communication.

Example:
Should you have any further inquiries or require additional details, feel free to reach out. I am happy to discuss [Candidate’s Name] in greater detail.

6. Sign off politely

Close the letter with a courteous sign-off, including your full name, title, and any relevant contact information.

ExampleSincerely,

[Your Full Name]
[Your Title]
[Your Email Address]
[Your Phone Number]

Letter of recommendation templates

1. For the CEO or Co-Founder position

Dear [Recipient Name],I am pleased to recommend [Candidate Name] as a potential CEO/Founder for your organization. [Candidate Name] has consistently demonstrated exceptional leadership skills, innovative thinking, and a keen business acumen during their tenure with us. Unfortunately, our current structure does not allow us to offer the position of CEO/Founder, and I believe [Candidate Name] would be an excellent fit for your company.

[Candidate Name] has successfully led our company through significant growth phases, contributing to the development and implementation of strategic initiatives. Their ability to navigate complex business challenges and inspire teams makes them an ideal candidate for a CEO/Founder role.

I am confident that [Candidate Name]’s skills, dedication, and entrepreneurial spirit would be a tremendous asset to your organization. This move aligns with their career aspirations and will contribute to the success of your company.

If you have any further inquiries or require additional information, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,

[Your Full Name]
[Your Title]

2. For a Business Unit Head

Dear [Recipient Name],It is my pleasure to wholeheartedly recommend [Candidate Name] for the position of Business Unit Head in your organization. Having collaborated closely with [Candidate Name], I have witnessed their outstanding achievements, skills, and invaluable experience that uniquely position them for this role.

[Candidate Name] has consistently delivered exceptional results, leading teams through complex challenges and achieving remarkable milestones. Their ability to strategize and execute has been evident in projects where they played a pivotal role, resulting in [mention specific achievements]. This not only showcases their capability but also underscores their potential to excel in a leadership position.

Their skill set encompasses insightful management, effective communication, and a proven track record of optimizing business operations. Beyond their professional accomplishments, [Candidate Name] brings a unique blend of innovative thinking and practical problem-solving skills to the table.

With [mention number of years] years of experience in [industry or relevant field], [Candidate Name] has demonstrated a deep understanding of our industry landscape. Their experience positions them as not just a capable leader but ones who can navigate the complexities of our business environment successfully.

I am confident that [Candidate Name] is ready to take on the responsibilities of leading a business unit, and I am excited about the tangible contributions they can bring to your organization.

For any further information or inquiries, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Sincerely,

[Your Full Name]
[Your Title]
[Your Contact Information]

3. For a Software Engineer position

I am pleased to recommend [Candidate’s Name] for the Software Engineer position at [Company Name]. Having worked closely with [Candidate’s Name] for [X] years in my role as [Your Title] at [Your Company], I am confident in their ability to contribute significantly to your team.[Candidate’s Name] has consistently delivered impressive results, including

  1. Project X Optimization: Led efforts resulting in a 30% improvement in application performance, reducing server load, and enhancing the user experience.
  2. Bug Resolution: Demonstrated a meticulous approach, leading to a 25% reduction in software defects, and improving product stability.
  3. decrease in development time for feature implementation.
  4. Innovation and Continuous Learning: Actively embraced emerging technologies, contributing to the integration of [specific technology] in our software stack.

[Optional: Add a sentence about communication skills or any other relevant trait]

In summary, [Candidate’s Name] brings technical expertise, innovation, and a collaborative spirit. I believe they will excel in contributing to the success of your organization. Feel free to contact me at [Your Email Address] or [Your Phone Number] for any further information.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

[Your Title]

[Your Company]

 4. For a new intern

Dear [Recipient’s Name],I am excited to recommend [Intern’s Name] for a position on your team. During their internship at [Your Company], [Intern’s Name] impressed us with their quick learning, proactive attitude, and attention to detail.

[Intern’s Name] stands out for
Fast Learner: [Intern’s Name] quickly picked up new skills and was eager to learn.
Proactive: They took the initiative to tackle tasks and contributed actively to our projects.
Team Player: [Intern’s Name] fit in well with our team, worked smoothly with others, and played a positive role in group projects.
Attention to Detail: [Intern’s Name] consistently delivered work with accuracy and precision.

[Optional: Add a sentence about specific projects or achievements]
In short, [Intern’s Name] is a dedicated and reliable team member, ready to make a positive impact. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at [Your Email Address] or [Your Phone Number].

Sincerely,

[Your Name]
[Your Title]
[Your Company]

5. For internal promotion

Dear [Recipient’s Name],
I am writing to enthusiastically recommend [Employee’s Name], with whom I have had the pleasure of working closely in my capacity as [Your Title]. Our professional relationship has provided me with valuable insights into [his/her] skills and qualities.
[Employee’s Name] is an exceptional candidate for [New Position] due to [his/her] outstanding leadership, expertise, and proven track record. During [his/her] time at [Your Company], I observed [him/her] consistently exceeding expectations and contributing significantly to our team’s success.
Since joining [Your Company], [Employee’s Name] has achieved notable milestones, including:

  1. Project Success: Led the successful implementation of [specific project], resulting in a [percentage]% improvement in [relevant metric]. This not only showcased their leadership skills but also positively impacted our team’s overall performance.
  2. Efficiency Improvements: Implemented streamlined processes that led to a [percentage]% increase in team efficiency, allowing us to meet project deadlines more consistently and reducing operational costs.
  3. Client Satisfaction: Played a crucial role in maintaining high client satisfaction levels, contributing to a [percentage]% increase in customer retention rates. [Employee’s Name] consistently goes above and beyond to ensure client needs are not only met but exceeded.
  4. Training and Development: Initiated and led training programs that resulted in a [percentage]% improvement in team members’ skills, fostering a more capable and cohesive department.

One memorable instance that showcases [Employee’s Name]’s strengths is [briefly describe a relevant situation or accomplishment]. This not only demonstrates [his/her] proficiency but also underscores [his/her] remarkable ability to lead and inspire the team, ensuring the successful completion of [specific project].

In conclusion, I have no hesitation in recommending [Employee’s Name] for [New Position]. [He/She] possesses a unique combination of strategic thinking, technical expertise, and a proven track record that would make [him/her] an invaluable asset to your [team/organization]

Please feel free to contact me at [Your Email Address] or [Your Phone Number] if you require any further information.

Sincerely,

[Your Full Name]

[Your Signature]

Bottom line

Writing a well-thought-out recommendation letter includes blending authenticity, specificity, and a touch of genuine enthusiasm. It’s not just about detailing the achievements of a candidate. You’re championing an individual’s professional journey. 

While at it, remember to add some personal anecdotes that are sincere and highlight the candidate’s unique strengths. Share tangible examples that showcase their impact in previous roles, emphasizing key qualities like leadership, teamwork, and resilience.

Here are some helpful tips for writing a strong recommendation letter:

  • Talk up their skills: List all the amazing stuff the person is good at. From tech skills to being a team player, give examples to show you’re not just making things up.
  • Explain how you know them: Tell a bit about your connection with the person. How long have you known them, and in what way? This helps folks trust your recommendation.
  • Stick to the important stuff: Keep it real by focusing on things you’ve seen them do at work. Talk about skills and qualities that matter for the job or school they’re aiming for.
  • Write in the third person: Write like you’re talking about them, not yourself. No accidental switches to “I” – it’s all about them. Double-check for any slips in your proofread.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

1. How do I request a letter of recommendation?

When asking for a recommendation letter, choose someone who knows you well. Ask in advance, either in person or through a clear email, expressing why you value their opinion. Provide details about the job title or program you’re applying for, share your achievements, and be clear on any specific points to highlight. Be understanding if they can’t do it, and follow up politely. Clear communication and gratitude make the process smoother for both parties.

2. Whom should I ask for a recommendation letter?

When requesting a recommendation letter, ask someone who knows you well in a professional or academic setting, like a professor, supervisor, or mentor. Choose those who have seen your work and can highlight specific achievements. Opt for individuals with whom you’ve had a positive relationship. Make sure they are familiar with the position or program you’re applying for.

3. Is it appropriate to ask for a recommendation via email?

Yes, it is appropriate to ask for a recommendation via email. When doing so, ensure your email is clear and polite, and includes relevant details such as the purpose of the recommendation, the deadline, and any specific points you’d like them to emphasize. Attach your resume or a brief overview of your achievements to assist them in writing a personalized letter. Keep the tone professional and express gratitude for their time and support.

4. What information should I provide to my recommender?

Information you should provide to your recommender:

  • Current contact details.
  • A reminder of your connection and past interactions.
  • Details about the position/scholarship/program.
  • Outline your goals and attach your resume.
  • Points for recommendation letter content.
  • A draft of your personal statement or research proposal.

5. How much time in advance should I ask for a letter of recommendation?

It’s advisable to request a letter of recommendation at least three to four weeks in advance of the deadline. This provides your recommender with ample time to thoughtfully craft the letter without feeling rushed. Additionally, it allows for any unexpected schedule conflicts or adjustments they may need to make. Asking well in advance demonstrates respect for their time and ensures a high-quality recommendation that strengthens your application.

 

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    Meet the author

    Parismita Goswami

    Content Writer

    A writer, poet and cinephile by passion. Parismita is Content Writer at Keka. She shares her interest in having good conversations over tea, traveling, exploring and reading. When she is not experimenting with her culinary art, you can typically find her introspecting or taking a cozy corner.

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