How to Write a Letter of Recommendation?
“Trust Factor” plays a crucial role in building a relation, whether it is between two personnel, between two organizations, or between a person and an organization. Also, to ensure that the person is suitable for a particular domain, a bond of trust could be one major gap. This gap is filled by a term called a recommendation. Hence letter of recommendation is considered an important document when it comes to one’s growth, either personal growth or organizational growth.
So, what is a Letter of Recommendation?
In simple words, a Letter of Recommendation is a letter written by one person to another person or an organization for consideration of a candidate for a particular position. The person who provides the reference by writing the letter is called a “Referee”.
This letter from the referee is an overview of the candidate’s nature which includes their skills, character, workstyle, and other required information in connection with the purpose of the letter. Depending upon the content of the letter, the receiving organization/ department will select the candidate for their ability. Letter of Recommendation, in general, intends to bring a positive impression about the candidate towards accomplishing the goal.
As per research and study, the letters from employers and teachers mostly weighed more for getting a job or getting a seat in a reputed institute. A Letter of Recommendation is also termed a reference letter.
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What content is present in the Letter of Recommendation?
Every recommendation letter should mention the below three major parts:
· Since when you know the person?
· What are the skillsets of the person?
· Why do they need to consider the person for that job or position?
Elaborating the above three parts,
At first, the referee should provide a brief introduction about the candidate, which will be followed by a paragraph explaining their connection with the applicant. This paragraph elaborating how they know also highlights the time duration the referee spent with the candidate.
While writing these lines, the referee must ensure that they know the candidate in person to provide honest feedback. One more point to be noted as a referee is that, they should not be a close relative of the candidate like mother or father as the feedback would not be genuine.
One paragraph must elaborate on the skillset the candidate possesses. The referee should mention the achievements and strengths of the applicant. The qualification and contributions must be explained. Providing a brief and yet detailed illustration of their skillset and contribution will add more weightage towards acceptance of the letter and in-turn the candidature.
A paragraph explaining “Why they need to consider?” should present the candidate positively. This paragraph will explain the characteristics of the candidate, their way of working, behavior, and involvement in activities. In general, the referee must explain in what way the candidate is suitable for the position. The contact number of the referee must also be mentioned at the end.
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What are various types of Letters of Recommendation?
Reference letters are written for various areas, below are the few common types of reference letters:
· Academic recommendation letters
· Employment recommendation letters
· Character Recommendation letters
· A rental recommendation letters
Academic recommendation letter
This letter is written by teachers or professors for their students. This letter highlights the academic profile of the student, their goals, and achievements. It also showcases the candidate’s extra circular activities. This letter is issued most likely for the following requirement:
· For students going abroad for higher studies require a minimum of 2 letters of recommendation
· For students who have recently graduated from college and are about to enter professional life.
· For students who aspire to take up higher studies in their domain of interest.
· At times, the scholarship program does require a reference letter.
A few of the basic types of academic recommendation letters are
Reference letter for students – this letter is written by teachers for their students to get admission into good undergraduate colleges. The academic and personal traits and strengths of the students are highlighted to reflect a positive image.
Reference letter for Scholarship – this letter is written by teachers to facilitate financial support to students. But the referee needs to ensure that, the student has a financial concern and is really in need of financial support to avoid the misusing of the letter. The referee needs to take care, that the points mentioned must meet the criteria specified by the scholarship program. The letter must be precise and must indicate the need for a scholarship, so it can be granted at the soonest.
Reference for Graduate School —this is generally written by professors of undergraduate school for students joining the graduate school. The referee must describe the capabilities, academic work of the students in detail. The referee can also provide few academic examples, which meets the requirement of the graduate school.
Reference for master’s degree– this is generally written by professors of graduate school to facilitate their students for joining for master’s degree either in native country or abroad. The letter should highlight the academic achievements, practical knowledge in the required domain, other skillsets, and the appeal of the student. The letter overall should create a positive image of the student.
An academic reference letter is required to make admission officers have a better understanding of the student they are going to intake.
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Employment recommendation letter
This letter is usually written by the manager or supervisor for the employee. This is also called a professional recommendation letter and the letter is a supporting document to one’s covering letter and resume. This letter describes the employee’s work ethics, qualification, and skills. This letter is issued for the following requirement:
· This letter helps the employee as an advantage in searching for a new job.
· In the case, the employee wants to switch to a different work profile within the organization, this letter at times adds chances of getting selected.
A few of the basic types of employment recommendation letter are:
Reference letter for employees—this is generally written by supervisors or managers for their subordinates. In the letter, the referee at first mentions his small introduction along with the designation. Following the introduction, the referee should mention the skillsets of his employee and mention how these skills benefited the company or organization. In the end, the referee must add the personality traits of his employee. It may please be noted that the reference letter from the supervisor holds a lot of weightage.
A Reference letter written for Coworker – this is written by one colleague to another colleague. Though it doesn’t hold much weightage as written by the manager or supervisor, this letter talks about the personality and soft skills of the employee in detail. The referee must mention their working relationship with the employee, the achievements they have witnessed working along with them, and their problem-solving technique. The letter should emphasize, the employee as an important asset for the company.
Reference letter on LinkedIn—this sounds different, but in actual reference letter on LinkedIn is very valued. The referee when appreciates and recommends an employee he knows; their name is visible to many other potential employers who are very active on LinkedIn. The referee must make sure the recommendation is short and precise as the reading time of the employers is often very short. Try to write in such a way that the employer reading it might start getting to know the person conveniently.
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Character Recommendation Letter:
This is also called a Personal Reference letter. This letter is written by the referee who knows the candidate very well or very closely. The referee can be anyone within friends, family members, advisors, or mentors. But the referee should be capable of assessing the other person with honesty. This letter is of great advantage for the candidate who has less experience in a particular profession.
Rental Recommendation Letter:
This is a type of letter of recommendation written by the owner of the house for their tenant. This is a bond of trust which another owner takes into consideration when he will allot his home for rent. This letter contains information about the behavior of the tenant, their punctuality in paying rent, and how well the tenant abides by the rules of the contract.
How to write a Letter of Recommendation?
The general format is represented as below:
· Letter Head and Contact Information
· Introduction paragraph
· Academic, professional achievement Paragraph
· Personal traits paragraph
Letterhead and Contact Information
This represents the name, address, and contact information of the referee. If the designation of the referee is available, then designation is also included along with the name. in the absence of letterhead, the referee can put their name, contact information, current address towards the left-hand side of the page.
In this section, the person is addressed to whom the letter will be written. This is also called as greeting section. Recipients are addressed with a name including salutation such as “Dear Ms. Maria”, “Dear Mr. Robert”.
If the recipient designation or department is known rather than a name then one can mention it as “To the Hiring Manager”, “To the Finance Department”, “To the Employee Welfare Council”. If unsure about the name of the recipient, then it is written in general as “To Whom It May Concern”.
This paragraph is the introduction of the referee, the candidate, and the introduction about how the referee and the candidate know each other and for how long. Also, the referee should mention the name of the college, company or organization, and position or domain for which the candidate is applying. Here is the sample wording which can be used:
“My name is pqr. I have been Xyz’s manager at Torry company for the past seven years. I am happy to recommend his name for the senior accountant position at Teeta Company.”
“My name is Professor Stu. I have known Abc for three years at ABC Institute of Technology. I have taught Engineering Mechanics and related subjects and have scored superior marks in the subjects. I highly recommend Christine as a candidate for her higher studies at XYZ institute’’.
In the sample above we can get to know, in one case Pqr who works as a manager in Torry Company is the referee for Xyz who wants to move to Teeta Company. Whereas in another case Professor Stu recommending his student Abc for higher studies.
Academic, professional achievement Paragraph:
This paragraph briefs about the candidate’s academic achievements if the candidate aspires to pursue higher studies. If the person wants to switch his job then, this paragraph will highlight the employee’s professional achievements. This paragraph in general briefs about the candidate’s strength, the referee should mention all the achievements, skillset, and strength in such a way it would create a positive image about the candidate.
Personal Traits paragraph:
This paragraph highlights the characteristics of the candidate. As along with technical knowledge, the hiring team also expects that the candidate should be of very good character. The referee must make sure that they represent the candidate’s characteristics very positively. Some features that can be included are their communication skills, presence of mind, positive approach, team spirit, ways of working.
Here is that the sample wording that might be used like below:
“She is a very good planner. She is very helpful, and she is an active participant in volunteering in campaigns for need”
“He is a humble boy. Also, one of the noteworthy points is, he takes the extra class for the primary students who are weak in studies.”
From above we can come across two cases, in the first case the manager is explaining the personal traits of his subordinate. Whereas in the second case the qualities of the student are explained.
We can further elaborate on the Introduction and personal traits paragraph as per the requirement. We can also add an extra optional paragraph which can brief about the reason for departure. This is mainly applicable to the employee who is switching jobs. If the reason is not affecting the image of the employee, then the reason can be included.
Here is the sample reason “due to medical conditions, the employee needs to relocate to another place” where the health condition is briefed.
This is the concluding part, where the referee restates the recommendation whole heartily. The referee needs to emphasize how valuable the candidate is and joining the college or company would make a difference.
The referee can encourage the recipients to contact them in case of further support or information if required. The contact details of the referee are also added in the paragraph. The referees are encouraged to use the terms which would increase the value and makes the recipient accept the candidate at the earliest. Here is the sample line which can be used “I would highly recommend”.
In the end, the referee should make their signature besides their name, designation, contact details such as telephone number, email id, and end the letter.
What are the extra points to be considered while writing the Letter of recommendation?
Here are basic points or tips to be noted while writing the reference letter.
· Make sure one must not exceed more than one page unless extra lines or paragraphs are required for making a strong impression. More than two pages are not recommended.
· To have maximum readability, a font size of 12 is recommended. Less than 12 is said to be too small for reading.
· A basic font style is recommended. Font styles such as Times New Roman, Arial, Garamond comes on the list. Stylish fonts are usually avoided to have uniformity.
· Margin is recommended in the range 1’’- 1½’’ to fit the data in one page.
· Make sure the paragraphs are left-aligned.
· Kindly make thorough research about the candidate whom you are writing, as it will be creating a bond of trust.
Whom to ask for a Letter of Recommendation?
Along with knowing how to write an effective letter of recommendation, it is also very important to know to whom we should ask to write for us. One should choose such a person with whom they have a strong bond or connection. They should be knowing each other for a good amount of time and can speak about their strengths positively. The below points give a brief idea of whom the candidate can approach.
· The student who wants to apply for a scholarship or college or graduation school: approach the teacher who has been teaching you for a very long time and you were doing good in their subject. For a particular subject, you need a recommendation then you can ask the teacher who has taught you that subject.
· Applying for a job with very little work experience: as your resume won’t, be having a strong reference regarding your professional experience, you can approach your far relative or friend. Make sure you are confident that, they can provide positive feedback about your strengths.
· Applying for a Job with experience: the reference letter from your manager would result in value-added to your profile. Hence at most consult your manager with the assurance that, they would have a positive review. In the cases, if anyone feels, manager review is not perfect then they can approach their colleague.
· Applying for a teaching Job with experience: If a teacher is applying for a job in another school or college and require a reference letter in boosting up their chances of selection then they can approach their previous college principal to write the same. In this case, if a reference letter by the principal is not available then a letter from the Head of the Department can be considered.
How to ask for a Letter of Recommendation?
This seems to look simple topic, but many times the way of asking the reference letter makes a difference. If there is a bit of variation in the way of asking, it might result in serious consequences. Here are tips a candidate can consider or implement while asking.
· Face-to-face interaction is considered a good way of appealing. You are respected more by the other person and they also feel the importance of your work. So please spare some time for it and have interaction in person.
· Explain your situation, where you can talk about your requirements, goals, the college you have applied to. Post explanation, you can request your Letter of Reference.
· Always remember to be polite. Politeness is the key factor in convincing people to accept your request. While requesting, do let them know that you are aware of their busy work and ask them is it possible for them to write a letter for you.
· Don’t rush over and force them to write the letter. Give a space for them to express their answer either yes or no. While requesting inform them, even if they reject the request you understand and respect their decision.
· Tell them why you have chosen them to write the recommendation letter. Sometimes these will help you in convincing the referee.
· Let them know how thankful you would be if they write the recommendation letter for you.
Here are the documents which can be provided to the referee when they agree to write the letter of recommendation
· Cover letter and resume of the candidate.
· Achievements and skillset of the candidate.
· The name of the university or company candidate would be applying.
· For students, then their statement should be submitted.
· Candidate’s strengths and characteristics, which they want the referee to focus on.