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How Do You Write a Letter of Recommendation?
How Do You Write a Letter of Recommendation?

Also known as a reference letter, a letter of recommendation is a document requested of you by an interviewer. The letter is required by a potential candidate during an application process. The application is often for an employment opportunity which has recently been advertised. It can also be used for a job transfer or acceptance into an educational institution for study purposes. There are a few things to keep in mind in order to write a letter that is sure to impress.

01

Format

professional letter of recommendation

An important document used for professional purposes, a letter of recommendation should meet the highest standards. Some tips on how to write a letter of recommendation include using good quality white paper which is clean and not crumpled. If you are representing an organization or institution, use their official stationery displaying the company letterhead and logo. Format the document as an official letter comprised of short, specific paragraphs which get directly to the point. Ensure the letter is correctly dated and personally signed.

02

Language

language letter of recommendation pederk / Getty Images

The language and tone used should be appropriate for an important document. The tone of the letter should be formal, polite and professional. It should not be ostentatious, condescending or pleading. The content of the letter should not be verbose, rambling or irrelevant. Professional terms relevant to the specific field of expertise being referred to are appropriate in context. Use some strong verbs within brief and to the point paragraphs. Avoid the use of flowery adjectives. Proofread to check that correct spelling and grammar have been used.

03

Who will be Reading the Letter?

reading letter of recommendation

Sometimes a letter of recommendation is written to a specific person whose name was provided on the advertisement for the job vacancy. The named person may be the manager of the company or corporation. They may be in charge of recruitment for a company or business. If the application is to be addressed to a particular person then ensure that their name is used. Check that the spelling is correct and the appropriate title precedes their name.

04

Job Description

job description letter

The letter of recommendation should be tailored for the position being applied for. Ask the candidate who has requested the letter for a copy of the job description or a link to the vacancy which was advertised. While reading the job description, determine if you think the candidate is an appropriate applicant for the position advertised. Keep in mind that your reference is supporting the candidate's application.

05

Qualifications of the Writer

writer for letter of recommendation

A reference should be from someone in an impressive or authoritative position who knows the candidate personally, can speak on their behalf and honestly recommend them. To impress the person reading the application for the vacant position, the person should be someone with recognised expertise in the relevant career sector. Clearly state your professional qualifications, your current position and include past positions or appointments held.

06

How you Know the Candidate

letter of recommendation

A letter of recommendation is written for someone that you know and have personally observed in the relevant context. The reader of the letter wants to hear from someone who has personally witnessed the candidate in action. The reader will want to know how you first came to know the applicant candidate and the length of time you have known them for.

07

Qualification and Successes of Candidate

letters of recommendation

Career applications are competitive. Employers may be simultaneously looking at several candidates who are all suitably qualified for the vacant position. Outline in the letter of recommendation the qualifications which you know the applicant candidate has attained. Include information about their educational background and experience in the career sector being applied for. Clearly state your own perception of the candidate's abilities which you have observed.

08

Attributes of Candidate

letter of recommendation

Employers are looking for some specific characteristics and abilities in potential candidates presenting for application for a vacant position. Positive attributes stated in a letter of recommendation can set an applicant apart from others. Character traits such as reliability, punctuality and good work ethic are attractive to an employer. Other favorable attributes which impress an employer are friendliness and the ability to work on a team.

09

Confirm Recommendation

recommendation

The letter of recommendation should end with a strong and encouraging conclusion which makes the employer feel favorable toward the candidate. Conclude the letter you are writing by affirming that you support the candidate in their employment application. Confirm that you recommend the candidate for the specific job position and encourage the employer to contact you directly. Don't forget to sign the letter personally.

10

Contact Details for the Writer

letter of recommendation

The employer who is reading the letter of recommendation may wish to contact you for further information about the applicant or to discuss specific aspects of the reference. Make sure that all of your contact details are on the reference letter. These will include your business address, office phone, and fax number. Also, ensure to provide your mobile phone number and email address so you can be contacted directly.

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