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Typically sent to a hiring manager or admissions officer, a letter of recommendation (LOR) is a letter written by a co-worker or manager, or professor recommending your work or academic performance. 

In this article, you will learn all about letters of recommendation and How to write one

What Is A Letter Of Recommendation?

Letter Of Recommendation commonly used in the hiring process as part of the employment verification step, a recommendation letter is a formal document discussing how suitable or qualified a person is for a certain job or program. It basically is a brief outline of the experience of an individual where the person giving the reference talks positively about the individual’s performance or personality. 

It usually is a former employee or supervisor or professor whom one can ask to write a letter of recommendation either from an academic, professional, or employment perspective.

A letter of recommendation is typically required for: 

  • University admissions 
  • Fellowships or internship positions
  • Job applications

As a recommendation, some job applications ask for references on the application itself, however, there are some fields such as finance or medicine that require a stronger statement of support.

How A Letter Of Recommendation Differs From A Reference Letter?

The basic difference between a letter of recommendation and a reference letter is that a LOR focuses on the skills and qualifications of the applicant, whereas a reference letter focuses more on their personality and characteristics. 

Both are commonly used for employment purposes, but may also be used for academic or personal purposes. They are a kind of endorsement of an individual given by a person who knows them on a professional or personal basis.

A good letter of recommendation will be a brief outline of the individual’s skills, attributes, and personality. 

Why Do You Require A Letter Of Recommendation?

A letter of recommendation along with your resume and cover letter adds to your credibility. It is kind of a personal testimony from an expert in your field that can give you a significant advantage when applying for a position.

It is a detailed explanation of how you can put your skills and qualifications that are already mentioned in your resume to good use. It also shows your commitment towards your goals as you go that extra step to get a letter of recommendation. And, also highlights your working relationship with your previous company.

How To Write A Letter Of Recommendation?

Recommendation letters follow a particular layout and format.

LOR Layout 

  1. One page length

  2. Single-spaced lining

  3. Traditional fonts

  4. 1” margins on each side

  5. 10-12 point font size

LOR Format

  1. Salutation

  2. Introduction

  3. Overview

  4. Personal story

  5. Closing statement and sign-off

There’s a lot more to writing a recommendation than just following the format and layout. 

1. Start with a great, attention-grabbing introduction

Recruiters come across hundreds of recommendation letters so make sure yours stand out from the get-go. If you don’t know where to start you can mention one of the following points

  • A positive quality about the candidate

  • A remarkable achievement of theirs

  • An experience that showcases their skills

Dear Mr. Doe,

I am sincerely glad to be recommending Ms. Jane Austen for the Junior Copywriter position. It was due to her detail-orientedness and research skills that helped her complete her Ph.D. thesis before the marked timeline.

2. State your relationship with the candidate

I’m highly impressed by Jane’s effective way of communicating with her colleagues. Her language skills not only reflected in her verbal but also in her written communication. 

3. Tailor the recommendation letter to the position

A little extra effort on your part might help your referee land that job. All you need to do is check the job requirements and match their skills and strengths to them.  

Teaching Jane for the past 2 years has been a pleasure. Guiding her through her remarkable thesis on ‘everything’s going to be fine’, I have seen her develop that same attitude.

4. Mention the candidate’s achievements

Of course, you are writing the letter to mention the skills, strengths, and personality of the referee. But it would add more meaning if the skills are backed up with facts.

Jane’s ability to chase after difficult stories first became apparent when I assigned her a report about loneliness among seniors. Despite being so young, she took up the challenging topic and achieved more than expected by 

a) meeting seniors in senior citizen and old age homes 

b) interviewing the seniors, wardens, and caretakers 

c) creating a social media impact by making young people aware of the situation in their own homes

5. Format, layout and proofread your letter

Polish up your letter of recommendation by using the correct layout, formatting it well, and proofreading it for grammar, spelling, and tone. Try to not be overly positive maintaining a positive rhetoric.

Letter of Recommendation Templates:

1. Template for letter of recommendation for an employee

Dear Mr. Doe,

I am writing this recommendation for Jane Austen who I have had the pleasure of working at Company as a Junior Copywriter for the past 2 years. 

As a person, Jane always puts people first. During her time in my team, she managed to not only help create a culture of people first but also set an example in the way she communicated with the people for all her stories.

This one time she really came out shining by making a huge difference amongst her peers. She was assigned this story about ‘loneliness amongst seniors’ where she not only went out of her way to meet them in old age homes but also created this impact amongst youngsters. Through social media, she started educating people about the problems their parents or grandparents might be facing as seniors.

Jane is a delight to work with and I wouldn’t hesitate to hire her in my team again.

Should you have any further questions about her, feel free to reach me at jsmith@emailcom.

Thanks,

John Smith

2. Template for academic recommendation letter for a former student

Dear [Name],

I am writing to recommend [student_name] who was an excellent [student] of mine for [program] for [number] of years. I am [name] teaching as a [job_title] at [institution].

What drew me instantly towards [student_name] is [quality]. During [their] time in my class, [they] worked on [projects] and managed to give exemplary performance all through the program.

[Student_name] is [personality attribute] and collaborating with [them] was a learning experience for me as well.

Feel free to reach me at [phone number] in case you have any further questions.

Thanks,

[Your full name, signature, and contact information]

3. Template for character recommendation letter for a coworker

Dear [Name]

I have had the pleasure of knowing [Referee] as a person for as long as I remember and as a coworker for the past [number of years]. I am currently working as [designation] at [comapny_name]. [Referee] was the one who helped me get this job as [they] were already working here for the past [number] of years].

What makes [them] an extraordinary manager is that [they] understand [skill]. [Share a personal story with the referee highlighting their characteristics and achievements.]

Whenever you need me, I am available to talk more about [referee] and how [they] can add value to your team.

Regards,

[Your full name, signature, and contact information]

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Frequently asked questions

Still have a few questions on letters of recommendation. We got you covered.

Also called a professional letter of recommendation, it is an official document required when you apply for a job or an education program. It describes the applicant’s personality, work achievements, and experiences. 

Generally, a format is followed that consists of

  1. A formal salutation
  2. An introduction of the referee and the referral
  3. An overview of some of the referee’s strengths and qualifications 
  4. A personal story mentioning some of their achievements
  5. A signature, with your contact information
  1. If it is an academic letter,
  • Current or former professors
  • Academic mentors
  • Thesis advisors

For a professional recommendation, 

  • Current or former employers
  • A supervisor or professional mentor
  • Experienced coworkers

For a character recommendation letter, 

  • Friends
  • Coworkers
  • Mentor or Employers

Conclude with a call to action. Also, show your willingness and availability to offer any additional information. Sign off the letter with your signature – your name, title, and company.

If someone has asked you for a LOR, they probably expect you to talk positive about them and give a feedback on their work. 

If you’re not sure you can recommend them, politely let them know you’re unable to send a letter at this point.

Yes. But it is highly recommended to tailor the letter based on the candidate and the position or program they are applying for.

Your resume lists your skills and qualifications, but what a letter of recommendation can provide is detailed experiences of how you can or have previously used those skills to succeed.

Your job applications may or may not give you the opportunity to list references who can attest to your capabilities, but a letter of recommendation goes beyond adding credibility to your work and documents. 

Understanding what a letter of recommendation is and how it can benefit you can help you impress a prospective employer by landing you an interview.

All set to write your letter of recommendation!