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Mastering Recommendation Letters: Format & Samples

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A letter of recommendation is a type of guarantee from someone you know to a potential employer or institution. Simply put, it's a letter in which someone says, "Hey, this person is great and you should give them a chance!

Writing such a letter can feel like a big task. First, you need to know the person well enough to write a recommendation. Secondly, there are certain formatting rules and features of how a letter of recommendation is written.

When writing a letter of recommendation, make sure it is positive. Talk about the person's skills and expertise that you have experience with and mention that you have known the person for a while. Your personal touch can make all the difference.

The format of a letter of recommendation is generally the same as formal letters. This guide details how to write a letter of recommendation. You can use it to understand the requirements and common templates and examples.

What is a letter of recommendation?

A letter of recommendation is a professional letter of recommendation written by a person who knows your work well. It highlights your skills, achievements and suitability for a particular task or course of study. It serves as a credible testament to your abilities and contributes positively to your professional or academic profile.

The letter of recommendation is used by potential employers to obtain additional information about an applicant. It should indicate the following:

  • Personal qualities
  • Professional performance
  • Professional background
  • Areas of strengths
  • Skills and Abilities
  • Career potential

When writing a recommendation, it is best if you have worked or studied with the applicant. The applicant should provide you with their resume and the job description they are applying for. This helps create a tailored and effective recommendation.

When do applicants need a letter of recommendation?

Applicants usually need a letter of recommendation when applying for a job, internship, course or scholarship. This way, others can vouch for their skills, experience, and suitability for the job they are seeking.

Here are some scenarios where a letter of recommendation is required:

  1. Applications: When applying for a new job, especially if the employer requires or values references.
  2. Applying to College or Graduate School: Many educational institutions require letters of recommendation as part of the application process.
  3. Internship Applications: Similar to job applications, applicants often need recommendations when applying for internships.
  4. Applications for scholarships: When applying for a scholarship, letters of recommendation are often required to support the application.
  5. Professional networking: As you make professional contacts, letters of recommendation can build credibility.
  6. Promotion or Internal Opportunities: When applying for a promotion or internal position, employees may need recommendations.

Format of the letter of recommendation

The format of a letter of recommendation is the same as a formal letter. Below is an overview of the typical structure of a letter of recommendation:

  1. Date
  2. Information about the recipient:
  • Surname
  • Title
  • Address:

3.  Greetings:

  • If possible, address the recipient by their name (Dear Ms./Mr.).

4.  Introduction:

  • Begin the body of your letter by introducing yourself and explaining your connection to the applicant.

5.  Recommendation:

  • Clearly explain why the applicant is a good fit for the position. Use specific examples of skills or qualifications.

6.  Anecdote or example:

  • Share a personal story or example that illustrates the applicant's qualities. These may include workplace skills or interpersonal strengths.

7.  Final word:

  • Summarize why you recommend the person.

8.  Contact information:

  • Please include your email address and phone number in case of any questions.

9.  Signature

Contents of a letter of recommendation

The content of a letter of recommendation should provide a comprehensive picture of a person's skills and qualities. It should address how the person has worked in previous jobs or tasks, what experiences they have, how smart they are, and what personal qualities they have, such as: Leadership qualities, teamwork, perseverance and communication skills.

Here are the most important contents of a well-written letter of recommendation:

1.Introduction and background

When writing the introduction to the letter of recommendation, make sure that you clearly identify with the applicant. You also need to know the position the applicant is seeking with this letter.

It is helpful to provide details about the type of experience you share with the applicant and how long you have known them to provide the reader with a basis for understanding your perspective.

2.Specific assessments

When talking about the applicant's skills, go into detail. Provide real-world examples and evidence that show why he or she is qualified.

For example, speak B. about how motivated and reliable they are and how well they can solve problems. Remember to limit yourself to work-related experiences and avoid anything that could raise doubts about whether the person is the right choice. Focus on why they excel at the job.

3.Summary of the recommendation

At the end of your letter of recommendation, provide a brief overview of the most important points. State clearly whether you recommend the applicant for the position. Keep it simple and direct - no fancy words or clichés.

If you can, compare the applicant to others by saying something like, "You're in the top 10% of all similar applicants I've seen." This adds additional information to your recommendation. Just aim for clear and simple language that gets your point across.

4.Special circumstances

When it comes to personal matters that could impact the applicant's career, it is important to talk to them first. Ask him how he plans to deal with it, whether he needs advice, and how much he's willing to share.

View challenges as an opportunity for the candidate to show how tough and resilient they are. This can actually strengthen their recommendation. Keep the applicant informed and turn obstacles in your letter into opportunities to emphasize their ability to handle difficult situations.

6 steps to writing a letter of recommendation

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

1.Speak to the recipient

Start 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 is important. Highlight your relevant experiences or connections.

3.Highlight qualities and achievements

Explain why you are recommending the person, highlighting specific accomplishments and qualities. Provide specific examples to support your recommendation.

4.Summarize with a strong recommendation

Conclude this section with a concise summary reinforcing your strong recommendation. Clearly express your trust in the applicant.

5.Offer to discuss further

Kindly offer to provide additional information or answer any questions the recipient may have. Encourage open communication.

6.Sign politely

Conclude the letter with a polite signature that includes your full name, title, and any relevant contact information.

Recommendation letter templates

1.For the position of CEO or co-founder

Dear [Recipient Name], I am pleased to recommend [Candidate Name] as a potential CEO/Founder for your company. [Candidate Name] has consistently demonstrated exceptional leadership skills, innovative thinking and strong business acumen throughout his tenure with us. Unfortunately, our current structure does not allow us to offer the CEO/Founder position and I believe that [candidate name] would be a great fit for your company.

[Applicant name] has successfully led our company through significant growth phases and contributed to the development and implementation of strategic initiatives. Her ability to solve complex business challenges and inspire teams makes her an ideal candidate for the CEO/Founder position.

I am confident that [candidate name]'s skills, dedication and entrepreneurial spirit will be a tremendous asset to your company. This step is in line with his career goals and will contribute to the success of your company.

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

Best regards,

[Your complete name]
[Your title]

2.For a business unit manager

Dear [Recipient Name], It is my pleasure to recommend [Applicant Name] for the position of Business Unit Manager in your company. Working closely with [applicant's name], I was able to convince myself of his outstanding achievements, skills and invaluable experience, which make him ideal for this position.

[Candidate Name] has consistently delivered exceptional results, led teams through complex challenges and achieved remarkable milestones. Her ability to develop and implement strategies has been demonstrated in projects in which she has played a central role, resulting in [name specific achievements]. This not only showcases their skills but also highlights their potential to excel in a leadership position.

Her skills include empathetic management, effective communication and a proven track record of optimizing business processes. Beyond his professional achievements, [Applicant Name] brings a unique blend of innovative thinking and practical problem-solving skills.

With [number of years] years of experience in [industry or relevant area], [applicant name] has demonstrated a deep understanding of our industry landscape. Her experience makes her not only a capable leader, but also someone who can navigate the complexities of our business environment.

I am confident that [candidate name] is ready to take on the responsibility of leading a business unit and I look forward to the tangible contributions he/she can make to your company.

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

Best regards,

[Your complete name]
[Your title]
[Your contact information]

3.For a job as a software engineer

I am pleased to recommend [Applicant Name] for the position of Software Engineer at [Company Name]. Having worked closely with [Applicant Name] for [X] years in my role as [Your Title] at [Your Company], I am confident in his ability to make an important contribution to your team.[Applicant Name ] has consistently delivered impressive results, including

  1. Project X Optimization: Under his leadership, application performance was improved by 30%, server load was reduced, and user experience was increased.
  2. Bug Fix: Demonstrated a thorough approach that resulted in a 25% reduction in software bugs and improved product stability.
  3. Reducing development time for implementing features.
  4. Innovation and Continuous Learning: Actively engaged with new technologies and contributed to the integration of [specific technology] into our software stack.
    [Optional: Add a sentence about communication skills or other relevant trait]

In summary, [name of applicant] brings technical expertise, innovation and willingness to cooperate. I am convinced that he/she will make an excellent contribution to the success of your company. For further information, please feel free to contact me at [your email address] or [your phone number].

Best regards,

[your name]

[Your title]

[Your business]

4.For a new intern

Dear [Recipient Name], I am pleased to recommend [Intern Name] for a position in your team. During his internship at [your company], [intern name] impressed us with his quick comprehension, proactive attitude and attention to detail.

[Intern name] excels at
Quick learner: [Intern name] picked up new skills quickly and was very willing to learn.
Initiative: He took initiative to tackle tasks and actively contributed to our projects.
Team player: [Intern's name] fit well into our team, worked smoothly with others and played a positive role in group projects.
Attention to Detail: [Intern Name] has always completed his work with care and precision.

[Optional: Add a sentence about specific projects or accomplishments]
In short, [Intern Name] is a dedicated and reliable team member who is ready to make a positive contribution. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me at [your email address] or [your phone number].

Best regards,

[your name]
[Your title]
[Your business]

5.For internal promotion

Dear [recipient name],
I am writing to enthusiastically recommend [employee name], with whom I had the pleasure of working closely in my role as [your title]. Our professional relationship has given me valuable insight into [his/her] skills and qualities.
[Employee Name] is an excellent candidate for [New Position] due to his/her outstanding leadership skills, expertise and proven track record. During [his/her] time at [your company], I have observed that [he/she] has consistently exceeded expectations and made an important contribution to the success of our team.
Since joining [your company], [employee name] has achieved notable milestones, including:

1. Project Success: Led the successful implementation of [specific project], resulting in a [percentage]% improvement in [relevant metric]. Not only did this demonstrate his leadership skills, but it also had a positive impact on the overall performance of our team.

2. Efficiency Improvements: Implemented optimized processes that resulted in a [percent]% increase in team efficiency, allowing us to more consistently meet project deadlines and reduce operational costs.

3. Customer Satisfaction: Played a crucial role in maintaining high customer satisfaction and contributed to [percent]% increase in customer retention rate. [Employee Name] continually goes above and beyond to ensure customer needs are not only met, but exceeded.

4. Training and Development: Initiated and led training programs that resulted in a [percent]% improvement in team member skills and promoted a more efficient and cohesive department.

A memorable example that demonstrates [employee's name]'s strengths is [brief description of a relevant situation or performance]. This not only demonstrates [his/her] skills, but also highlights [his/her] remarkable ability to lead and inspire the team, ensuring the successful completion of [specific project].

Finally, I have no reservations about recommending [employee name] for [new position]. [He/She] has 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 contact me at [your email address] or [your phone number] if you require further information.

Best regards,

[Your complete name]

[Your signature]


Writing a well-thought-out letter of recommendation requires a mix of authenticity, specificity, and a touch of genuine enthusiasm. It’s not just about listing an applicant’s accomplishments. They are committed to a person's professional career.

Don't forget to add some personal anecdotes that are sincere and highlight the applicant's unique strengths. Provide specific examples that demonstrate the applicant's impact in previous positions and emphasize key qualities such as leadership, teamwork and resilience.

Here you will find some helpful tips for a meaningful letter of recommendation:

  • Highlight the person's skills: List all the great things the person is good at. From technical skills to teamwork, give examples to show you're not just making things up.
  • Explain how you know the person: Tell us a little about your relationship with the person. How long have you known the person and in what way? This helps people trust your recommendation.
  • Stick to the important things: Stay realistic by focusing on things you've seen at work. Talk about skills and qualities that are important for the job or school you are pursuing.
  • Write in the third person: Write as if you are talking about them, not yourself. Don't accidentally switch to "I" - it's all about them. When proofreading, check the text for any careless errors.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1.How can I request a letter of recommendation?

When asking for a letter of recommendation, 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 position or course you are applying for, share your achievements and make clear what points you would like to highlight. Be understanding if they can't do it and reach out politely. Clear communication and gratitude make the process smoother for both parties.

2.Who should I ask for a letter of recommendation?

When asking for a letter of recommendation, you should ask someone who knows you well in a professional or academic setting, such as: a professor, supervisor or mentor. Choose someone who has seen your work and can highlight specific achievements. Choose people with whom you have developed a positive relationship. Make sure they are familiar with the position or program you are applying for.

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

Yes, it is appropriate to ask for a recommendation via email. Make sure your email is clear, polite and contains relevant details, such as: the purpose of the recommendation, the deadline and any specific points you want to highlight. Attach your resume or a brief overview of your accomplishments to make it easier for the hiring manager to write a personal letter. Stay professional and thank them for their time and support.

4.What information should I give my recommender?

Information to give your recommender:

  • Current contact information.
  • A reminder of your connection and previous interactions.
  • Details about the position/scholarship/program.
  • Outline your goals and attach your resume.
  • Notes on the content of the letter of recommendation.
  • A draft of your personal statement or research proposal.

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

It is advisable to request a letter of recommendation at least three to four weeks before the deadline. This gives your recommender enough time to write the letter carefully without feeling rushed. It also allows for unexpected scheduling conflicts or adjustments that the recommender may need to make. A timely request shows respect for the recommender's time and ensures a high-quality recommendation that strengthens your application.

Mastering the art of recommendation letters is key to supporting professional growth. With the right format and genuine enthusiasm, you can elevate a candidate's career journey. Explore more HR insights with IceHrm.

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