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What is a Letter of Recommendation?

Thursday, June 17th, 2021

A manager typing a letter of recommendation

A Letter of Recommendation is a letter that creates an opportunity for the writer to describe and attest to the skills, character traits, and overall quality of the person being recommended. This may be from a professional, work-related, academic, or personal point of view. The Letter of Recommendation can serve as formal documentation of commendable performance and character on behalf of both parties.

These letters are often used as part of the employment verification step and are usually called an employment reference or job reference. They’re also known as a character reference, letter of introduction, certificate of character, or simply a testimonial. However, they are most commonly used in the hiring process as part of the screening phase.

A good letter of recommendation can be the one variable that separates one candidate from the next, so it is vital to understand the basics of what is necessary within the reference of character.

What to include in a Letter of Recommendation

A Polite and Professional Salutation

How you greet someone when first meeting them has a considerable impact on their initial opinion of you. The style you approach someone in a letter is no different. That's why it's essential to use a polite and personable greeting to start your letter strong.

Impactful Introduction

The opening line of your recommendation letter is undoubtedly the most important, as it sets the tone for the whole letter. The best opening sentences are those that instantly convey the applicant's sincere, enthusiastic recommendation.

Establish Your Relationship

Your intro section should be devoted to introducing yourself and your connection with the applicant. This part of the letter should not be skipped, as it provides the basis for your entire letter.

Brief Highlights

Highlight a few of the applicant's strengths or traits that coincide with the job posting. 

Showcase the Applicant

Add specific skills, talents, or experiences that are directly related to the job description. Provide specific and detailed examples that showcase the applicant’s talents that would benefit their target job.

Time to get Personal

The following body paragraph should focus on 2–3 of the applicant’s positive personality traits and characteristics—especially those that would be advantageous or desirable for their target company or school. One of the main reasons universities and some businesses ask for letters of recommendation is to get a better understanding of the applicant on a personal level. Thus, just listing their academic or professional achievements won’t cut it when crafting a compelling letter.

Encouragement

In your final paragraph, reiterate your full, unequivocal, and enthusiastic recommendation of the candidate. Follow this up with an emphasis on how valuable the applicant is as a potential asset. Use powerful, authoritative, and confident language when writing this sentence.

Letter of Recommendation Templates Download Letter of Recommendation Templatess

We are sure you have your pick of great templates, but we’ve got a whole slew that are just for you. Whether it’s to get into college or graduate school, find an internship abroad, start up some side hustles and freelance work on the weekends when there is no time in your schedule – who needs sleep anyway? All kidding aside though! These letters will help tell future employers about all these amazing things going down with my life so they need to hire me asap before someone else does!

Professional Letter of Recommendation Template

Dear [First and Last Name],

It’s my pleasure and honor to recommend [Name] for [position] with [Company]. [Name] and I [relationship] at [Company] for [length of time].

I thoroughly appreciated my time working with [Name], and came to know [him/her/them] as a genuinely worthwhile asset to our team. I watched [Name] develop into an exceptional individual who excels in their professional and personal pursuits.

[He is/She is/They are] hardworking, dependable, and uncommonly trustworthy. In addition, [he is/she is/they are] an effective [soft skill] who can [result].

[His/her/their] knowledge of subject] and proficiency in [specific subject] was a massive benefit to our entire office. [He/she/they] put this skillset to work to [specific achievement].

Without a doubt, I assuredly recommend [Name] to become a part of your team and organization. I know [he/she/they] will become an effective and productive addition to [Company]

Feel free to contact me at [Phone Number] or email me at hello@vivahr.com if you have any other questions about [Name]’s qualifications and experience. I’d be glad to elaborate on my recommendation.

Best wishes,

[Your Name]
[Title]
[Company Name]

Academic of Recommendation Template

Dear [Mr./Mrs./Ms./To Whom It May Concern],

I couldn’t be more pleased to recommend [Student’s Full Name] for [job, graduate school, program, etc.]

I have had the pleasure to know [Student’s First Name] for [length of time]. [He/She] has been a student in my [School department or name of class] classes.

While in my class, I have found [Student’s First Name] to be resourceful, hardworking, and consistently striving for greatness.

[Student’s First Name] was consistently in the top percentile of my class and would always give extraordinary effort no matter the assignment or project.

One task that stands out is when [he/she] worked on [task, assignment, or project] where [he/she] accomplished [specific accomplishment].

I can positively recommend [Student’s Full Name] for [job, graduate school, program, etc.]

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

Employee Letter of Recommendation Template

Dear [First and Last Name],

I have absolutely no reservations about recommending [Employee’s Full Name] to become your newest [Position] with [Company Name]. I was lucky enough to be [Name’s] direct supervisor for the last [length of time]. I was astonished by the amount of dedication and work they put in to become one of the best employees in our company.

[Name’s] goal setting and determination led [him/her/them] to achieve [Achievement] surpassing all other employees in [timeframe].

It has been an honor to work with [Name], and my department will feel the effects of their departure. Their leadership and enthusiasm have led our team to achieve goals and objectives I never thought possible.

If for any reason you need to contact me to speak about [Name} more, please feel free to call or email me.

Best,

[Name]

Joshua F.
Redline Electric & Solar

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Formatting your Letter of Recommendation

A letter of recommendation should include five items for proper structure and formatting:

  1. A short introduction that provides the recipient with who you are, your connection to the applicant, and your expertise.
  2. A summary of the applicant’s strengths and how they used them within the capacity of their role.
  3. A specific example that illustrates how they used their attributes to complete a goal or an accomplishment.
  4. A concluding statement brings the letter to a close and an additional affirmation of why the applicant would be an excellent fit for the opportunity.
  5. End with providing your contact information so the recipient can follow up with any additional questions.

Pro tips for writing a Letter of Recommendation

1. Gather Information

It is a good idea to ask the applicant a little bit more about the position they are applying for and if there are any specific areas or points they would like you to cover in the letter of recommendation. It is also a good idea to link to the job posting so you can add any keywords that correlate with the job posting and the applicant’s set of skills.

2. Opt for Active Voice

Active voice sends a strong, clear message that creates a more compelling letter of recommendation. In addition, an active voice keeps sentences more succinct because fewer words are needed to communicate action.

3. Remember to Proofread

Our templates provide a great starting point for creating a letter of recommendation but always double-check your work before you send the letter. Make sure that all placeholders have been removed and the appropriate name is replaced. It is always a great idea to read your letter aloud rather than give it a quick look over with your eyes.

4. Add the task to your Calendar.

It can be very easy to overlook a task that doesn’t involve your typical daily duties within your role at your company. Remember that the applicant is counting on your letter of recommendation. Make sure to ask the applicant if there is a particular deadline that the letter should be delivered to make sure you set a reminder in your task management tool or software.

Qualities to Include in a Letter of Recommendation

Knowledgeable

Professionalism

Honesty

Integrity

Innovative

 Problem-solving

Ambitious

Dependable

Teamwork

Adaptability

Creativity

Generosity

Confident

Strategic

Willingness to Learn

Optimistic

Humble

Initiative

Energetic

Organized

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