Working with people can sometimes lead to an unexpected lifetime commitment. You work with a few special people where you bonded through incredible work chemistry. But, soon enough, they had left to the other side where it’s greener and time passes by without you knowing. Until, one day, they come back to you, not with the intention of the past but with the request for the future: they need you to write a recommendation letter. You may also see Letter Samples.
Cold sweat sweeps your hot mind as you’re filled with a confusing mix of flattery and panic. They must have had looked up to you as an effective mentor for them to ask your recommendation, which flattered you; but then, you apparently do not have much clue in making one, which panics you. Much has already been expected, how will you fulfill? Fret not, however, for this article will serve as your comprehensive guide in all the things you need to know in writing a recommendation letter
Elements of a Good Recommendation Letter
- Skills and qualifications: This pertains to abilities and skills of the person whom you are writing a recommendation letter for. Recommendation letters are endorsements, and what better way to endorse a person than mention his or her strengths.
- Relationship: This is the part of the recommendation letter that mentions how you are related to the person you are recommending. Recommendation letters do not delve in deep into the personal relationship, but deals with work relationship instead, like how you met and how long you know each other.
- Credibility: To give substance to your recommendations, you also have to state your qualifications. The more qualifications you mention, the more credible your claims are. This is an essential factor that the prospective employer who reads your recommendation will use to judge the validity of your claims.
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Steps to Make a Great Recommendation Letter
- Gather information regarding the job: Before you actually start in writing your recommendation letter, request from the person you are recommending a copy of his or her resume, cover letter, and academic achievements so you will be able to objectively gain a character reference. Also ask for information regarding the job they are applying for or see the job posting yourself. This will help you determine the job’s qualifications and cross-reference them to your beneficiary’s abilities.
- Start with the introduction: After you gather enough information, you can already start with the contents of your letter. For the first paragraph, introduce the candidate with his or her name, state what position he or she is applying for, and share your relationship with this candidate.
- Hype up the candidate: While the first paragraph prefaces the candidate with you and your association with each other, the second paragraph is the “main meat” where the actual recommendation happens. For this part, you are endorsing your beneficiary by enumerating his or her skills, knowledge, ethics, and other redeeming work qualities. Basically, you are listing down his or her strengths that you have observed and witnessed during your time working together.
- Finish with a credible close: Spare no room of doubt for the hiring manager who will read your recommendation by finishing the letter with a paragraph of your credentials. Aside from writing a summary of all your points in the preceding paragraph, a citation of your work details can actually provide a stronger wrap-up for your letter. It will add more flair to all your claims and a great boost to your beneficiary’s image.
Tips for a Great Recommendation Letter
- Provide your contact information: Mentioning your contact details will enable the hiring managers or potential employers of your candidate to contact you for further inquiries. When writing your contact information, don’t just simply write it, express it with willingness in providing additional insights regarding the person you are recommending.
- Tell anecdotes: As mentioned before, the qualities you enumerated will never be enough if you don’t provide examples. Support all of the claims you made for your candidate with anecdotes of their accomplishments. These stories will not only make your recommendation credible but it also makes it interesting as well.
- Be strong with words. Hiring managers have probably read a hundred of recommendation letters that endorses the candidate with repeated words like “an excellent go-getter” or the tired lines such as “best employee/workmate I’ve had so far…” To make sure that you do not resort to cliched compliments, be specific with the way you describe your candidate and use powerful verbs instead of flowery adjectives.
Types of Recommendation Letters
- Employment Recommendation Letters: These letters are written to support a candidate on a particular job application by someone who knows the candidate on a personal and professional level. Although a former workmate who is at an equal level with the candidate is acceptable to write this letter, supervisors and managers are more effective in establishing a good recommendation. Job applicants with no work experiences can seek recommendation letters from their former professors or heads from a community organization they belong in.
- Academic Recommendation Letters: These letters are deemed as requirements in big universities where they need references to admit a prospective student. Academic recommendation letters are most often written by a teacher to endorse their former student to an academe. They highlight the prospective student’s class performance, extra-curricular participation, and leadership capabilities.
- Character Recommendation Letters: These letters are used to obtain a product or service that needs a document or certification that a potential benefactor or applicant is of good character. Character recommendation letters are most often requested by landlords or landladies when they are opening a space for rent, a court when it is deciding on a child adoption case, child custody, or parole hearing, or a non-profit organization looking for volunteers for a charity work.
Recommendation Letter Template Sizes
Recommendation letters are printed on documents with the US standard paper sizes of 8.5 inches by 11 inches (letter) or 8.5 inches by 14 inches (legal).
Recommendation Letter FAQs
Who are the persons qualified to make a recommendation letter?
Anyone can write a recommendation letter for you, but be aware that the credentials of the person writing the recommendation poses a particular weight of validity to the hiring manager considering your application. This is the reason why it is always best that you contact your former manager or supervisor to write a recommendation letter to you. Besides, as someone who monitors your work abilities, they are very able in giving a profound performance evaluation.
The best contact for recommendation letters are written by former bosses and supervisors. If you left a job in good standing, these individuals are the most respected sources to ascertain your work ethic. However, recommendation letters are not exclusive to just former bosses. The leaders of groups where you volunteered or lifelong contacts can also sufficiently compose a recommendation letter. The amount of time you have known the contact plus the higher his status, the more impact the letter will be in consideration for your new job.
How many letters of recommendation do you need when submitting an application?
Academic institutions usually require three letters of recommendation when they are considering a prospective student for admission. Companies, however, do not usually require recommendation letters but you are always welcome to submit at least one.
Your recommendation letter is not only about the candidate you are endorsing, but also about you as a legitimized endorser. Focus on the qualifications of your candidate as much as you highlight your own. Striking the balance between the two will transcend your intention of support to the hiring manager, thus, making an effective recommendation letter.