At some point, most people will need a recommendation letter; from a past employer, from a teacher, a coworker, or someone who knows you in some other capacity. Writing a recommendation letter for another person is a large responsibility and should be taken very seriously. Here are some tips on how to write a recommendation letter with samples.
Before you write a recommendation letter
Before you write a letter, get a good understanding about what the letter is for. Some recommendations will require that specific things are said in the body of the letter about the person. Clarify these with the person asking you to write a recommendation. This is also the time to ask questions from your requester in order to get to know them better.
You should also make sure that you know what kind of information is being expected from you. For example, someone might need a letter highlighting their leadership experience, but if you don’t know anything about that person’s leadership capability or potential, you’re going to have a hard time coming up with something to say. Or if they need a letter about their work ethic and you submit something about their ability to work well in teams, the letter won’t be very helpful.
What to include in your recommendation letter
Every recommendation letter should include three key components:
- You should explain how you know this person and the duration of your relationship with them.
- An evaluation of the person and their skills/accomplishments. If possible offer specific examples that illustrate the person’s strengths and qualifications. These examples should be brief but detailed.
- A summary that explains why you would recommend this person and to what degree you would recommend them.
How do I structure the letter?
Break down the letter into paragraphs. Let each paragraph address a basic point you wish to make about the person you’re writing on.
Be sure to date, address and sign the letter appropriately.
Ms. Chase Garnell
The Baersk Centre,
Michigan Technology Institute.
123 Moulton Street,
Houghton, Michigan. 46883
Dear Ms. Mallison,
I am writing in support of Mr. John Chase’s application to participate in the Baersk Research
Program for Undergraduates this summer.
Mr. Chase is a 4th year student in Materials Science and Engineering at Michigan Technology Institute and is currently pursuing a degree in Materials Science and Engineering. He has been my student for 2 years and I have known him on a personal basis since he started studying at MTI.
He has a perfect 4.0 GPA, and has shown significant aptitude in performing research in my group.
He is planning to use this research for his dissertation.
Among his accomplishments, Mr Chase received a faculty award for his work on the role of tin doping on the structure and surface chemistry of soda lime silica glass. He began working alongside my graduate students in the fall term, and has been actively engaged in glass batching, melting, fining, and surface preparation for subsequent analyses.
In addition to his academic and research performance, Mr. Lerner also interacts well with his colleagues.
He is a polite, motivated and well-articulated young man.
I know he would be an excellent candidate for the program and I enthusiastically endorse his application.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
The Admissions Office,
Albany, New York.
September 26, 2018.
PERSONAL RECOMMENDATION AND REFERENCE
I have been privileged to know Jason Boyd for over 4 years in my role as his University professor. I am currently the Dean of the Law Faculty at the University of Texas at Austin.
I enjoyed my time teaching Jason and his entire class as a first year pre-law student and again as a 3rd year student. I taught him American Government and Comparative Constitutional Law respectively. I found his analytic and scholarly questions and contributions exceptionally brilliant and invaluable in helping me to build a better teaching experience with the students. I still teach at the University. His conscientious effort and cooperation in achieving high-quality results were appreciated even when given assignments as a group.
As an undergraduate, Jason was efficient, innovative, and responsive. He motivates his class mates with his inquisitive nature. His leadership abilities are clearly evident in his organizational skills. He was also the President of his class 2 years in a row.
I know of no reason you would be disappointed by his desire to pursue a Masters program at your University. Rather I am confident he will be an asset to your institution. Please let me know if you require further information.
Professor Jane Yila.
Dean, Faculty of Law.
University of Texas,
If you are unable properly convey the necessary information, because you are busy or don’t write well, you can offer to sign a letter that has been drafted by the person who is requesting the reference. This is common practice and usually works well for both parties. Do ensure that you proofread the letter and approve that it reflects your honest opinion about the person it is written for.