Recommendation letters are basically letters that are used when the writer assesses the person being recommended according to his/her qualities, skills, and characteristics. These letters are typically used for situations involving employment, scholarships, and school admissions. Once these letters have been received by the recipient, it serves as one of the tools used in evaluating whether the person being recommended is qualified or otherwise.
Writing a recommendation letter may seem like a big challenge and can bring so much pressure. Words have to be carefully chosen and the content must be consistent from start to finish. However, if guidelines and tips are followed, one will surely end up with a compelling and well-written recommendation letter.
In this guide, we will talk about recommendation letters and how they should be formatted, what should and should not be included in a recommendation letter, and a few tips and tricks that we have also collected that can be used in order to make a flawless and effective recommendation letter. With the help of our guides, the letter-writing task will be easier than ever and will also aid in making you stand out from the rest.
While applying for a job, a spot at a university, a scholarship, or a loan, you may have been asked for a recommendation letter. This is perhaps one of the most difficult requirement to comply with because when it is submitted, it is beyond your control and you can never be too sure with what its contents are.
For both the writer and the subject of a recommendation letter, this could be a rather nerve-wracking experience. The contents of a recommendation letter could be what would jumpstart or hinder someone’s dreams. This chapter is a run-through of the basics of a recommendation letter and the importance of receiving two thumbs up from credible people who could vouch for you.
What Is a Recommendation Letter?
In numerous circumstances during your lifetime, you will find yourself in need of a recommendation letter. While the term itself is pretty self-explanatory, the act of setting time aside to write requires much effort put into it and the act of asking for one needs both thought and courage.
Before anything, however, it is important to clearly understand what a recommendation letter is.
A recommendation letter, also known as a letter of recommendation, is a written document that includes an assessment of someone’s knowledge, skills, abilities, characteristics, and qualifications. This is usually requested when someone is trying to get a new job, obtain entry to an institute of higher education, or eligibility for scholarships. In recommendation letters, the one writing the letter is called a “referee.”
While it might be fine to refuse a request to write a letter of recommendation letter, it might be off-putting. It is a great honor to be entrusted with such request and is a show of good faith to write a great letter for a great employee.
Why Recommendation Letters Are Important
Be it a job, a scholarship, or a slot for school, a recommendation letter is just one of the many requirements you have to comply with. There are people who presume that a recommendation letter is simply a formality or an additional hassle. What these people don’t realize is that letters of recommendation format can indeed be their ticket to a relatively faster climb up the corporate ladder.
Recommendation Letters Can Vouch for You
Think of a recommendation letter as some sort of resume written for you by someone else. A letter of recommendation can confirm to a possible employer whether you are indeed who you claim to be.
Your Referee Might List Accomplishments You Overlooked
People see the world through their own set of eyes and interpret events with a sense of perception unique solely to them. Because of this, what someone sees as a valuable asset may seem mundane and it’s-all-part-of-the-job to you.
There are skills, talents, and abilities that your referee might have noticed in you but you’ve disregarded and dismissed to be irrelevant and unimpressive. However, these overlooked abilities might exactly be what the institution or organization you’re applying to is looking for.
They Give an Insight to Who You Are
A letter of recommendation—especially one that is written by someone who has worked very closely with you—can give the reader an intimate glimpse of who you truly are as a person, student, employee, or manager. Giving the reader a chance to get to know you through the eyes of someone whom you’ve impressed and whose expectations you’ve surpassed might give the reader the same opinion of you.
Although not every company or institution requires that their applicants submit a recommendation letter, it is easy to see why many do. The kind of information you can gather about a person and opinion you can form about them based on what those closest to them, both in their professional and personal lives, can honestly say is far more significant than what an hour-long interview can.
Who Should Write a Recommendation Letter
As we’ve reiterated, a recommendation letter can have a huge impact on your application. Thus, who you choose to write your letter for you is an important decision that you have to mull over and give a lot of thought to.
Ideally, these are the people you should approach should you ever find yourself in need of a great recommendation letter:
- A teacher whose class you performed well in
- A former employer with whom you are still in good standing
- A former coworker who worked closely with you
- A colleague who could attest to your abilities
- Someone who has worked closely with you and has some expertise in the field you want to enter
Most of the time, organizations and institutions would only ask for two to three recommendation letters. You don’t get a lot of chances to pick someone who could write you the best recommendation. Therefore, it would be wise to carefully think over whom you would most prefer and trust to give you a great recommendation.
How to Ask for a Recommendation Letter
Once you’ve determined to whom you would request a recommendation letter from, the next step is to summon the courage to go up to the person and ask. These are the proper steps to undertake when asking someone to write a recommendation letter for you:
1. Ask them. Ideally, you should ask the person to write you a recommendation letter in person. Start by explaining that there is a program you want to get into or a job you are applying for. The dialogue for that may go something like this:
“Hi, John! Thank you so much for meeting with me today. I’d like to tell you that there’s a job I’m really hoping I could get. It’s a position as a junior lawyer at Smithsons and Gordon. Since we’ve been working side by side for the past three years, I could not think of anyone better to write a recommendation letter for me than you. Do you think you could spare the time?”
2. Write them a letter. Along with asking them personally, write them a letter to make it official. Your letter should state to whom the recommendation letter should be addressed to, when you need it, what it’s for, and other pertinent information. Enclosed with the letter should be a copy of your achievements. If you’re having trouble with this, you should check out the Recommendation Request Letter Samples that we have available on the site.
3. Thank them. After they give you the letter or you’ve been notified that the letter has been sent, don’t forget to thank your referee for going through the trouble.
4. Update them. Whether or not you got the job, spot, or scholarship, make sure to update your referee. Thank them again for taking the time to write a recommendation letter for you.
Recommendation letters may not be one of the requirements that you’d have to slave over, but there is a lot of anxiety that comes with the requirement. Having no control over its contents and having no chance to butter it up makes some people understandably nervous. However, knowing what it is and the purpose it serves would help you make sure that you choose the right people to pen this important document for you.
Writing a Recommendation Letter
When you start writing your recommendation letter, this where it starts to become daunting as there are a ton of things that you need to consider. You need to think about what to write, what is supposed to be included in the letter, and how the letter should look like. This chapter will tackle all of these factors.
What Should You Include in a Recommendation Letter?
Recommendation letters are typically written at the request of a person who is going to take up higher studies, applying for a scholarship, or applying for a job. These are usually required in order to assess the candidate’s character, qualifications, performance, and skills.
To have an outstanding recommendation letter, it must include the following:
1. The relationship that you have with the referee. It is highly important that the writer and the person being recommended has an established relationship. This is to ensure that the person writing the recommendation letters is able to give an honest evaluation about you. However, the recommender should also be someone who is not directly related to you such as your parents or siblings.
2. The evaluation or the reasons why you are considered as a good match. This is the main meat of the recommendation letter. Majority of what is going to reflect in the recommendation letter are your skills, qualifications, and achievements. Other things that might also be included in this part of the letter are the following:
- Contributions to the community
- Strengths and abilities
- Persistence and motivation
In order for your referee to write this part of the letter properly, it will also be a good idea to let your referee know what the purpose of the recommendation letter is. This will actually help to ensure that what is highlighted and elaborated is in line with the purpose of the recommendation letter.
3. A concluding paragraph that will summarize the reasons as to why you are considered to be qualified for the job or academic application. This part of the letter should be succinct and straight to the point.
Format of a Recommendation Letter
A recommendation letter follows a business letter format. It will typically have the following inclusions:
This is the very first part of the letter that will be seen. It will contain information about the referee such as their name, contact information, company/school name, and contact information. Should there be an official school/company letterhead, it can definitely be used.
- Greeting/Opening Salutation
Right after the letterhead, your letter will be followed by greeting the recipient (i.e. Dear Mr. Potter). With recommendation letters, it is important that salutations be specific. This means that it should include the recipient’s appropriate title and name. On occasion, especially if you are writing a more general recommendation letter, the need to include the title and name is no necessary and you might opt to use the phrase, “To whom it may concern,” instead.
- Introductory Paragraph
This is the paragraph where the relationship between the referee and the person being recommended is established. It’s also the part where a brief explanation about the referee’s qualifications for composing the letter is stated.
- Second Paragraph
The second paragraph will talk about the person being recommended and why he/she is seen to be a good candidate to be accepted in the school or company.
- Concluding Paragraph
This will give a summary about what has been written. It will also be the part where contact information of the referee will be included with the goal of making communication easier for the parties involved.
- Closing greeting and Signature
A simple closing such as “Sincerely,” or “Yours truly,” will suffice for these letters. It will then be followed by the referee’s signature.
10 Dos and Don’ts of a Recommendation Letter
Writing a recommendation letter does not require rocket science, but it does prove to be quite a challenging task. In writing recommendation letters, one must ensure that it is high in quality and is well-written in order to make it as convincing and as persuasive as possible. The goal of your recommendation letter is to supplement your application and make it stand out from the rest.
If you are writing a recommendation letter, here are a few DOs that can help you out:
1. Be specific and objective at the same time. A big chunk of a recommendation letter talks about the candidate/applicant. It is important that these letters specify what are the qualities and skills that the candidate possesses and what makes him/her unique.
2. Be honest and be positive. The number one thing to remember about recommendation letters follows the old saying, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Recommendation letters are meant to highlight the positive attributes of the candidate/applicant. It is not an avenue or opportunity for bashing and saying negative things about the person. If you feel like you are not going to be able to write a positive recommendation for someone, it is best to politely ask him/her to find another person to write the letter.
3. Keep an eye for grammatical errors and misspellings. The possibilities of having errors in terms of grammar and typos are highly likely. A poorly edited letter will not give as much impact compared to one that is professional and top-notch in quality.
4. Be careful with your choice of words. Some words may give a negative connotation instead of a positive one. A recommendation letter might make or break the applicant/candidate’s application and you want to ensure that he/she will always fall on the former.
5. Always include contact information. Oftentimes, the recipient of the letter will have additional queries about the applicant or candidate based on what you have written in the recommendation letter. Including primary and secondary contact information is a must in order to make communication a breeze. You may even leave a schedule about when it is convenient for them to get in touch with you.
As important as it is to focus on what should be done to compose a good recommendation letter, there are also a few DON’Ts that are just as important. Here are five of them:
1. Do not leave recommendation letters to the last minute. Make sure to take all the time that you need in writing a recommendation letter. Ask the person you are recommending when the deadline for the letter is and what the requirements are. Set up a deadline for yourself that is at most a few days to a week ahead of the deadline.
2. Never ever make false claims. A truthful recommendation letter should only talk about what the capacity of the person being recommended is. If you lie in the recommendation letter, you will be building up false expectations for the recipient and that is something that should, at all times, be avoided. Stick to the truth and elaborate on these.
3. Do not ask for a ready-made letter from the person you are recommending. This might be seen as a common practice but it will always be best if the statements reflecting on the letter come directly from your own assessment of the person you are recommending.
4. Do not be scared to give out suggestions to the person being recommended. Discussing what will be included in the letters with the person you are recommending is great. You get to have a good insight about what the person is expecting to be written in the letter and you can also suggest helpful inputs on how you will come up with a well-written and professional-looking recommendation letter.
5. Do not be too general with the letter. Keep in mind that recommendation letters need to be specific. Do not be frugal with what needs to be highlighted because what you may feel as something that need not be mentioned may actually be of importance for the purpose of the recommendation letter. Always be mindful of what you have to write.
Keeping these things in mind will help you end up with a letter that will be a good representation of the person you are recommending.
5 Things You Should Highlight in a Recommendation Letter
Your recommendation letter is one of the keys that will help to make your job application or college admission become successful. The person who will be reading your recommendation letter will be keen on knowing what it is that you possess that makes you a qualified applicant. Some of the most common things that referees highlight in a recommendation letter are the following:
1. Willingness to serve. This covers a variety of factors such as work ethic, principles, and generosity. Having this highlighted in your recommendation letter actually gives the impression that you not only think about yourself but also of the welfare of your colleagues.
2. Interests and talents. Your hobbies and interests might not feel like a significant factor to your application but it actually is. This lets your reader know that you are unique and that you have a broad spectrum of enthusiasm for other activities.
3. Diligence. Schools and employers will be more interested in someone who works hard to achieve their goals.
4. Flexibility. Flexibility means being able to adjust accordingly to the environment presented to an individual. As a student or employee, you will encounter a wide assortment of situations that call for the need to adapt in a quick manner. It also shows a great deal of determination in being able to overcome any hardship that may come your way.
5. Intelligence. Of course, employers and schools would want the people they accept to be intelligent. This does not solely talk about your GPA scores or your academic achievements because being intelligent is not about the grades. It is basically more about being able to act quickly and make smart decisions in a quick manner.
If you feel like you have all of these strengths, it will not hurt to remind your referee about these. Although the strengths mentioned here are deemed to be the best things to highlight, you might possess other strengths that we might have missed to mention here. Just be sure to discuss these with your referee, and remember, keep in mind the purpose of the recommendation letter to match it accordingly with your strengths.
How to Write Recommendation Letter for a Friend
Big life events will call for the need of recommendation letters as a requirement. With this in mind, there will be times when the need to ask for a recommendation from friends is considered to be a necessity. This is especially true for circumstances where you might not have any relevant work experience yet or if your record is also not that good.
Writing recommendation letters for friends are considered to be personal recommendation letters. Letters of this nature should be customized for both your friend and the purpose of their application.
If a friend has requested for you to write them a recommendation letter, make sure you are able to write a good one. You may do so by following some of the tips below:
- Ensure that you are willing enough to write the letter. Recommendation letters are best written by individuals who are willing to give a positive and honest recommendation. If a friend has requested for you to write a recommendation letter for a friend and you do not feel comfortable or you are not confident enough to write a strong recommendation letter, you may politely decline the request.
- Ask for details. This will include asking them for a copy of their resume or application forms and discussing the details of the application. This will give you a better idea about what to focus on and what are the requirements of the application.
- Relationship. The relationship that you have with the applicant greatly matters for these types of letters. The details about your relationship with the applicant do not have to be written in detail. A brief description about how you know the applicant and how long you have known each other is already enough.
- Mention examples where the applicant was able to display their strengths. Quantifying these skills and qualifications helps the recipient have a better picture of how the applicant will fit in the company or the school.
- Positive and honest statements are encouraged for recommendation letters. Never mention or give hints of weaknesses that the applicant may have as these can actually hurt their chances of getting accepted or hired.
- Leave your primary contact information in the letter. This way, should the recipient have further questions about what you have written, it will be easy for them to get in touch with you.
- Ask your friend if there are any guidelines for submission that is needed to be followed. This is to ensure that your recommendation letter adheres to the rules that were set out.
How to Write Recommendation Letter for a Former Employee
Asking for recommendation letters from your previous employer is one of the most important requirements used in order to get hired. When you start asking your former employer for a recommendation letter, you have to ensure that you are in good terms with them. Being in good standing with your previous employers makes it easier to approach and ask them for recommendation letters and other requirements for future career opportunities, scholarships, or further studies. Another thing that comes with a good relationship with previous employers also makes it easy for them to produce a well-written recommendation letter.
Recommendation letters from your previous employers are important because:
- It serves as a confirmation of your qualifications and skills from a reliable third party.
- It helps the recipient get a good picture of your work ethics based on what the previous employer has stated.
- It will also serve as a supplementary document that will attest to the claims reflected on the application form or resume.
This will not be the first time that your former employer has received a request to write a recommendation letter. However, you may show him/her these tips in a polite manner to make sure that the recommendation letter being written is going to be a strong representation of you. Here are the tips:
- Introduction. By nature, your boss is a very reliable source for a recommendation letter since he/she has seen how you have grown during your stay with the company. It is important to remind your former employer to clearly state in the beginning paragraph his/her relationship with you and how long you have known each other. By establishing your relationship, it gives an assurance that your former employer is giving an honest assessment.
- Customizing according to the purpose. Whether your recommendation letter is for pursuing a new job or taking up further studies, it is important that your purpose is clearly communicated to your former employer to guarantee that the content is in line with what the letter is for. This way, the strengths that need to be highlighted are well suited for the purpose and it will be easier to elaborate on these factors to paint a picture that you are an applicant worth a spot in the company/school.
- Specific examples to quantify the strengths. Tell your boss to give definite examples regarding some of the strengths that were highlighted. In doing so, it will give your recommendation a good boost in terms of being persuasive. It will also help tell you apart from other applicants who may share similar qualifications and skills with you.
5 Things to Be Included in a Recommendation Letter for a Student
If you are someone who is looking forward to becoming a student at a prestigious college or university, know that recommendation letters are also essential. Typically, colleges/universities would want to know the abilities and characteristics of a student applicant. They would use recommendation letters as a tool to gauge if the applicant would be able to function in their academe. Customarily, former teachers are the ones who write these letters.
Recommendation letters for students attest to a student’s performance in terms of academics. It talks about the teacher’s experience with the student inside and outside the classroom.
In asking a teacher to write a recommendation letter, make sure to make it convenient for them by:
- Giving them a copy of your admission forms or CV/resume.
- Giving a copy of your report card
- Listing down your career goals
These will give your teacher a good idea about what he/she should write down in the recommendation letter.
Student recommendation letters should include a few key points. There are 5 that are considered to be the most important factors to be included in these types of letter. These are:
1. Academic performance. Colleges and universities want to get a glimpse of how well the applicants are when it comes to school work. This will give the school an assurance that the applicant will be able to do his/her school work in the college/university with ease.
2. Involvement in school activities. It gives an impression that the applicant can give the impression that juggling school work and extracurricular activities can be easily achieved. School activities can cover being a member of clubs to being part of sports teams.
3. Strong qualities. Good character speaks a lot more than grades ever will. This is a good factor to highlight, especially if your grades are not considered to be above average. Universities and colleges look forward to having students who excel not only in academics.
4. Dedication and passion in a certain activity. Being dedicated and passionate is great to have as this gives the sense that you can focus and can be committed when it comes to reaching your goals.
5. A reflection of confidence. It is important for your teachers to write a recommendation that sounds convincing. This helps in making the recommendation letter be more convincing, which is what we are aiming for.
7 Things You Can Do When You’re Unable to Write a Positive Recommendation Letter
You may have been asked to make a recommendation letter for a friend or a colleague several times already. Let’s face it, one way or another, time will come when someone you might not be in good terms with or are not so fond of will come to you and make a request for you to write them a recommendation letter. You juggle your brain trying to come up with good things to say about the person but nothing seems to be a good fit. Now, you ask yourself, “What am I supposed to do?” The best thing to do for these kinds of situations is to simply decline the request. In order to do so without hurting the feelings of the person who requested it, we will give you a few tips in doing so.
1. Be honest with the person. In being honest, there’s no need to be rude by telling them that you do not like them or that you cannot seem to find any good reason why someone will write a recommendation letter for them. Just tell them that you do not feel like you are a good fit to write a recommendation letter for them.
2. Politely tell them your reasons for declining. It may feel like an awkward discussion for both of you but it needs to be done. Again, be honest with your reason.
3. Come up with a reasonable excuse. Everyone knows that writing recommendation letters take up so much time. If you are hesitant to write a recommendation letter because of this factor, you may come up with an excuse that shows that you are indeed busy with other things. A little white lie will not hurt.
4. Offer help. You can offer a little help by giving out a list of alternative people who might be able to help out with writing a recommendation letter. By doing so, you are at least not leaving the person hanging.
5. Be brief with your explanation. Your explanation for declining need not be lengthy. A few sentences should do the trick.
6. Avoid saying “Sorry” too much. Declining a request is not wrong. Despite the guilt that might be seeping through your nerves upon explaining your reasons for the decline, make sure you apologize once to avoid making the situation between you and the requesting party more awkward than it already is.
7. Never reconsider. There might be a chance where the requester will ask you to reconsider your decision. The thing to think about when this happens is if you do reconsider, does it change your perspective of the person? The answer to that question is probably going to be a big “NO.” Spare yourself some difficulty that the situation might bring and be firm with your decision.
As difficult as it may be, there are times that will call for the need to decline a recommendation letter. But always remember that doing so does not give you the title of being inconsiderate and you will not be labeled as a bad person. It serves more as an act of saving yourself from being immersed in situations that are not comfortable for you. Keep in mind that it is better to decline writing it than to go through with the request and ending up with a half-heartedly written letter.
Different Types of Recommendation Letters
A variety of situations makes use of recommendation letters. This is because institutions and organizations want to ensure that the applicants make a good addition to their community. These letters are great tools for gauging how much of a good fit the applicants are from the point of view of a third party.
As we have discussed in the previous chapter, it is a good idea to customize a recommendation letter accordingly with the purpose that it is intended for. This chapter will give you a few tips on what to include in specific recommendation letters and a few tips and tricks that you can follow.
How to Write the Best Recommendation Letter for a Job
Well, it isn’t a secret that writing a recommendation letter for employment is quite a tough task to do. Well, as much as we want to help our former colleague or friend to acquire a new job in a new company, there are a few essential things that require careful consideration. Keep in mind that the way we write a recommendation letter can make or break someone’s possibility of acquiring the job he or she is applying for.
In this section, we will provide you a few expert tips on how to craft a well-written and personalized recommendation letter that will truly give justice to the person whom you’re writing for.
- Ask for a copy of their resume or CV. Collecting crucial information from their resume or CV provides you an insight of their marketable assets. In this way, you will have no trouble writing a recommendation letter that will guarantee to convince the hiring party how the recipient of your recommendation is qualified for the position they are applying for.
- Follow the business letter format. When writing a letter of recommendation, it is highly vital to include significant information such as the date of submission, your name and contact information, as well as the name and address of the company.
- Formal salutation. Make sure to use a formal salutation and use the name of the person to address the letter. Take for example, “Dear Mr. Roy Smith.” However, if the name of the contact person is not available on the job advert, just use “Dear Hiring Manager” instead of using “To Whom It May Concern,” which sounds so outdated and general.
- Introduce yourself. Introducing yourself to the hiring party will give them an idea of your relationship with the applicant. You do not have to provide a lot of information about yourself. You can use a couple of lines to tell them about your position and why you are writing a recommendation letter for a certain applicant.
- Provide your judgment on the applicant’s skills. Since your goal in writing a recommendation letter is to sell the applicant to the hiring party, it is appropriate to be positive when providing your judgments. You can also state your willingness to rehire the applicant and how their skills and capabilities had contributed to the betterment of your company. You can also single out a certain quality that the applicant possesses and how it can be beneficial for their organization.
- Provide concrete examples. One of the greatest ways to convince the hiring party is to give them a clear idea of how the applicant’s skills and capabilities are favorable for them. Highlight a few good and concrete examples on how the applicant excelled in your organization and some important extracurricular activities.
- Close strong. When you reach the last part of the recommendation letter, make sure to close it on a positive note. Make sure to let the reader know your willingness to discuss the candidate’s application. And do not forget to provide your contact information too.
10 Things Teachers Should Include in a Letter of Recommendation for Students
Oftentimes, when a student is looking forward for a scholarship, he/she needs to ask a letter of recommendation from a teacher. If the students entrust you to write a letter of recommendation for them, then it would be a great honor to help. Writing a good recommendation letter can do the student a lot of favors and can increase the possibility of acquiring the said scholarship or anything that serves their purpose. That is why it is extremely important to know what makes a student recommendation letter highly effective.
In this section, we will discuss the essential things to include when writing a letter of recommendation for students.
- Your relationship. In order to sound convincing why you are writing a student recommendation letter, it is important to establish your relationship with the student to the reader of the letter. Since a recommendation letter is a sort of honest evaluation of the student’s skills and capabilities, you should be quite familiar with them or else you won’t be able to provide an honest judgment on the student’s skills and capabilities.
- Your experience. One of the integral parts of your letter of recommendation is writing about your experience with the student. How many years have you known them? Did you have some bad or good experiences with them? Your experience can be considered to be a tangible evidence that demonstrates the student’s character, personality, and general attitude.
- Student’s potential. Your letter of recommendation should include a concise and detailed information regarding their potential to succeed in the scholarship or any chosen endeavors. It will also be necessary to discuss the student’s academic performance and general proclivity toward the scholarship or higher education setting.
Writing a Strong Recommendation Letter for Scholarships
Scholarships make taking up of further studies easier in terms of finances. However, sponsors or organizations who grant scholarships want to choose students who rightfully deserve the scholarship.
Scholarship recommendations help to highlight a student’s character, qualities, goals, and career targets. These bits and pieces of information can help give the recipient of the letter a feel about who the student is and what he/she hopes to achieve in the future.
In this section, we will discuss some of the things that should be included in a scholarship recommendation letter as well as a few tips that can greatly help out in terms of writing these types of recommendation letter.
To successfully write a scholarship recommendation letter, you may follow the following tips:
- Gather pertinent information about the candidate. These will include asking for copies of the scholarship requirements, the application forms, and resumes. This will aid in analyzing and getting to know more about the student and give you a better perspective about what the scholarship is for.
- Carefully think about what you should highlight. Once you have gathered enough information about the applicant, you have to think carefully about the attributes that you would like to emphasize about him/her. Specific examples should also be stated in the letter.
A scholarship is a major thing that has the ability to change the life of the recipient. Don’t be the hindrance of a student’s dreams by accepting to write a recommendation letter for someone you’re not quite familiar with or are not fond of. Remember that a bad recommendation letter is worse than no recommendation at all.
Recommendations vs. References
While there is a blurring line between a recommendation letter and a reference letter, it is important to note that the two are not the same. Although sometimes, the two terms are colloquially used interchangeably, this is improper and might lead to confusion. Thus, it is important to know the difference between a recommendation letter and a reference letter to ensure that you submit the right requirements when applying. This chapter will cover reference letters and highlight major differences between those of a recommendation letter and a reference letter.
What Is a Reference Letter?
While there are a few—albeit very subtle—differences between a reference letter and a recommendation letter, it is easy to forget that the two terms are merely almost synonymous. However, because of how similar they are with each other, some people have either mistaken the terms to be interchangeable or have used one term when they really meant the other.
A reference letter would typically follow almost the same format and writing style as a recommendation letter. A reference letter is mainly a brief written statement that certifies someone’s character or qualifications. It does not dig deep enough to cover all specifics of a person’s accomplishments in relation to a desired position.
Just like a recommendation letter, a reference letter is a document containing a list of basic information about you. Unlike a recommendation letter, however, it is not written with specifics in mind. While the two are meant to achieve the same results, they are written with slightly different purposes.
When to Send a Reference Letter
A reference letter is a less exhaustive version of a recommendation letter. This is often a requirement to be complied with during a job or school application process. The point of a reference letter is to confirm basic information you state about yourself like where you studied and your degree or where you worked, the position you held, and how much your compensation is. Here are the instances when you are most likely going to need to submit a reference letter:
- For character assessment
- For entrance to an academic institution
- For compliance with job application requirements
Sometimes, a reference letter might be given to you without you having to ask for it. You can keep this letter and use it for future purposes. Often, these letters are very basic and only confirm your association with the company or school.
Format of a Reference Letter
Reference letters are significantly easier to compose than recommendation letters. Typically, a reference letter only includes the following parts:
In addition to the company’s logo, the header of a reference letter must include the company’s name and contact information.
Unlike every other kind of professional letter, the opening salutations of a reference letter need not be specific. A “To Whom It May Concern” may suffice.
The body of a reference letter is a simple statement affirming an employee’s or student’s affiliations with a company or school.
- Closing Statement
The closing statement is simply a signature of an authorized officer in the organization.
Generally, this is what a reference letter might look like:
A recommendation letter is an exhaustive, detailed document that narrates your achievements and qualifications that relate to the reason you are requesting for a recommendation letter in the first place. A reference letter is a brief letter that confirms basic information about yourself. There are six main differences between a reference letter and a recommendation letter. These differences are as follows:
A recommendation letter is requested by a school or company that you are applying to. Often, you won’t even get your hands on these letters as these are sent directly to the organization that requires them. A reference letter is sometimes freely given to an employee or student to use for their purpose.
A recommendation letter is written as with any professional letter. That is, it must be properly and specifically addressed. A reference letter, on the other hand, can be addressed to anyone in general.
The differences between a recommendation letter and a reference letter can be summarized through this table:
By now, you probably already understand the difference between a reference letter and a letter of recommendation. While the two may seem synonymous, the differences between the two are rather blatant.
Samples and Templates
It is common practice for many to search for templates and samples online before they begin to do any sort of paperwork. This is because looking up work similar to the one you have to do could give you a certain type of confidence on the work you have to accomplish. But before you could fully utilize them, you have to first know what purpose they both serve.
Templates are time- and energy-saving tools that would make certain paperwork that you have to accomplish easier and less of a headache. A template is basically ready for printing once you’ve filled out all the missing information. The typeface, font size, and color are already in place. A template might look something like:
Most schools and companies already have templates saved for different certifications they might have to issue. These templates already have the school or company letterhead in place as well as main content and signatories of the certificate or letter. The only thing that the officers would have to fill in is whatever information that is unique to each student.
A sample, on the other hand, is a completed work that you would use as a guide when writing your own. Unlike a template, you cannot simply fill in information or revise wordings and claim the work as yours. Samples serve simply as a guide for what you have to do and how you could do it. Works that have previously been completed may serve as samples.
This chapter will have an extensive collection of both samples and templates that you might need in writing a recommendation letter. We have the best and most exhaustive collection, each designed for a specific purpose to best fit your needs.
Recommendation Letters for Students
Often, writing a recommendation letter for students can be far from easy. Especially with students who have not accomplished anything that makes them stand out from the rest of the student body, it might pose as a challenge to write a recommendation letter that does not sound generic.
When writing a recommendation letter for a student, these are what you could include to make the letter as comprehensive as possible:
- State your relationship with the student and how long you’ve known each other.
- If you are the student’s teacher, write how well they did in your class (only if they did really well).
- Talk about positive qualities you’ve noticed about the student.
- Tell (true) stories where the student displayed positive qualities.
- Describe how well you think the student could perform in the school or work they are applying for.
The abovementioned suggestions are aids for if you ever find yourself with no idea on what you could say about the student requesting for a recommendation. If you are still having a difficult time, ask the student to create a resume and send it to you.
While they cannot be copied word for word, the Sample Recommendation Letters for Students below will be helpful for you as it could tell you how you could phrase and include certain ideas, as well as help you with what you could write for the student requesting a letter.
Student Recommendation Letter
Recommendation Letter from Professor
Letter of Recommendation for Sociology Student
Principal Recommendation Letter for Student
College Recommendation Letter for Student
Letter of Recommendation Engineering Student
Recommendation Letter for Outstanding Student
Strong Letter of Recommendation for Student
Letter of Recommendation for Student Scholarship
End of Study Scholarship Recommendation Letter
Recommendation Letter Samples for Former Employees
Because you’re in the professional world, there is no excuse for unprofessional behavior. Do not hesitate to write a great recommendation for your employees who have decided to leave to seek out better opportunities.
Even though it might be difficult to let go of exceptional talents, respect the decisions of your employees by letting go because they want to work in service of their dreams. When writing a recommendation letter for a former employee, here are some things you could include:
- In the first paragraph, introduce yourself by making sure to include your name and position as well as your relationship with the employee and how long you’ve known them.
- Describe the duties and responsibilities the employee had under your company and how well they were able to perform them.
- List down accomplishments and achievements by your former employee.
- Tell the reader of your letter about the positive qualities that the employee possesses.
- Back up achievements and qualities with stories and examples.
Writing a recommendation letter that gives justice to the kind of service that was rendered to you is a show of good faith and grace. Here are some Sample Recommendation Letters for Former Employees that you could read through and use as guide:
Recommendation Letter for Former Employee
Recommendation Letter Sample for Former Employee
Example Letter of Recommendation for Employee
Former Employee Recommendation Letter Example
Letter of Recommendation for Employee
These samples could serve as your guide for when you write your recommendation letter for a former employee who deserves your seal of approval. Take a look at the samples we have provided as they could give you ideas on the kind of tone and mood you have to adopt when writing such letters.
Reference Letter Samples
Reference letters are one of the most basic requirements of companies when you apply for a position. Unlike with recommendation letters, reference letters are significantly shorter. They are merely a confirmation of what you already stated in your resume or application letter. Generally, they contain nothing more than a quick runthrough of your experiences, qualifications, skills, abilities, or achievements. Here are a couple of reference letter samples you could use as a guide:
Reference Letter Sample
Employment Reference Letter
Example of Reference Letter
Reference Letter Template
Reference Letter for Nursing Student
Bank Reference Letter
Refrigeration Supervisor Reference Letter
Volunteer Reference Letter
Reference Letter from Professor
Reference Letter from Teacher
Reference Letter for a PhD Candidate
Normally, a reference letter looks quite like a certificate would. They are barely personalized (except for the required information unique to each person). Unlike a recommendation letter, reference letters can be written by people who do not know you or your work as well. Writers of reference letters sometimes just have a list of your qualifications and they fill in what they know in a premade template that is already saved in the company or school computer.
Positive Recommendation Letter Samples
Especially for employees who have performed up and above expectations, you would want to write them a great recommendation letter that would clearly display their skills, abilities, qualifications, and potential. However, it is not easy to write a professional recommendation letter that showers the applicant with praises without sounding too cheesy or over the top.
Here are a couple of Sample Positive Recommendation Letters that you could use to guide you in setting the tone and mood of the letter and help you decide on how to phrase certain ideas:
Positive Recommendation letter to Student
Sample Positive Recommendation Letter
Positive Recommendation Letter Example
A recommendation letter can either boost or raze an applicant’s chances of getting hired. Many recruiting officers depend on what previous employers have to say about an applicant before making a decision as this could help the recruiter identify the kind of employee the applicant will be in the field. If you want to write an exceptional letter for someone, you should ask them for an updated copy of their resume to make sure you don’t miss anything that might help them get the job.
Honest Recommendation Letters
If you were somehow cornered into agreeing to write recommendation letters for someone you don’t think you could say anything positive about, you will definitely have a difficult time. While it might be best that you gently refuse to write a recommendation letter instead, there could be situations when you’d have no choice but to get creative.
Here are a couple of Sample Honest Recommendation Letters:
Sample Honest Recommendation Letter
Honest Recommendation Letters for Nurse
Honest Recommendation Letters for College
Honest Employement Recommendation Letter
While it might be understandably tempting to just lie your way through a recommendation letter, this is highly unadvisable as it would be your reputation on the line.