How to Write a Letter of Recommendation?

So, someone asked you to write them a letter of recommendation, huh? It’s a big responsibility. You probably want to help them out, but you don’t know how to write one.
You might even be wondering what a letter of recommendation is. Why would they need it? And how would you go about writing it for them?
This can become a nightmare during application season when all of your interns, colleagues, or students ask for tons of recommendation letters.
Don’t sweat it. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about writing a letter of recommendation.

What Is a Letter of Recommendation?

A letter of recommendation is a document written by a former employer, colleague, teacher, or even a client, to vouch for someone’s work and performance in a certain field.
It should describe that person’s skills, experience, qualities, how it was like working with them, and, most importantly, why you would recommend them to another employer.

How to Write Someone a Letter of Recommendation?

A letter of recommendation’s format is just like any formal letter you write. It has an introduction and an opening paragraph, a body, and a closing paragraph followed by your signature.

The Opening

Firstly, you start the letter by addressing the authority to which the letter will be sent.
Secondly, identify yourself and your job title, then proceed to explain the type and length of the relationship between you and the candidate.
For example:
‘Dear (Name of the recipient),
My name is John Smith, (your position) at (the company you’re working at), and I’m writing you this recommendation letter upon the request of John Doe, who’s applying for (the position) at (the company’s name).
John Doe and I worked together for (period of time) as (working relationship).’

The Body

In order to write a good recommendation letter that doesn’t feel like a template you copied, you should ask yourself, why was working with that person a good experience? And why would you recommend someone else to hire them?
Your answer is what you should write in this paragraph.
If you still find it a tough task, just use the following list to guide you through what you need to write:
  • Mention their skills and how much experience they have in their field
  • Mention any special projects or tasks he worked on
  • Describe his social skills and his relationship with his co-workers
  • Describe the points of strength in his character
  • Mention any problem he managed to overcome or solve
  • Bring up the applicant’s achievements throughout his career with you
It’s worth mentioning that you shouldn’t write more than two to three paragraphs, as it’s best to keep the letter limited to one page only.
Here’s an example of what the body should look like:
‘John Doe joined our team shortly after his graduation, and he hit the ground running. He made impressive progress in a short period of time, exceeding other co-workers who had been hired long before him and had more experience.
He was a team player; all his co-workers could vouch for that, and surprisingly, he was doing well on solo projects too. He was part of the team that built the (project name).
John Doe is a problem solver and a lifesaver. You can count on him in any tough situation. He’s a quick, organized thinker and he always found a way to fix any issue he faced.
We surely miss the positive attitude he had around the office. We all enjoyed working with him.’

The Conclusion

This should be a brief summary of the most important points in your letter. Keep it short with valuable information only. It should be enough to inform any reader of the content of the letter.
It’s crucial to mention that you highly recommend that person for that position.
For example:
‘With his skills and experience, I strongly recommend John Doe for (the position), I believe he will be a valuable asset to your team.’

The Signature

This part should include your name and all your contact information.
For instance, this is how it should look like:
‘Please feel free to contact me through this email or through my number if you have any questions regarding John Doe’s work with us.
Sincerely,
John Smith’

Tips That Will Help You Write a Perfect Letter of Recommendation

You can surely write a typical letter that will be another one they can add to their list, or you can write a letter that will stand out and actually improve their chances of getting that job.
Following these instructions will help you write a flawless letter of recommendation:
  • Avoid clichés
  • Write in an active voice
  • Keep it short and to the point
  • Proofread your letter or use a grammar checking tool
  • Ask the requester if certain information will be valuable to add
  • Stay positive and friendly while keeping a professional tone
  • Don’t add false information

Are You Obligated to Accept Any Request for a Letter of Recommendation?

If you don't know that person well enough, or if you don't feel comfortable doing it, or if you don't have the time to, it's fine to reject the request. It's not an obligation
To add, if you think that you won't be able to write a good recommendation letter, simply don't do it as it can do more harm than good.
Further, you’re not obligated to run the letter of recommendation through the person requesting it; you can send it directly. However, you should let the person you’ve written the letter for know that you’ve sent it.

Conclusion

Writing a letter of recommendation is pretty straightforward. You simply need to know the person and have the time to write down why you would recommend him or her to another employer.
Keep the latter simple and to the point. Mention all of their skills and experience, as well as what it was like working with them.
Stay professional, but keep a friendly tone, and don’t add false information. Hopefully, your letter will help them score that position.