Writing Recommendation Letters

Writing Recommendation Letters

Recommendation letters are generally used by students applying to college and by people in the workforce who are applying for jobs. At some point in your life, you may need to write a recommendation letter.

Before You Write
Writing a recommendation letter for another person is a large responsibility and should be taken very seriously. Before you agree to the task, make sure you have a clear understanding of what the letter will be used for and who will be reading it. You should also make sure that you know what kind of information is being expected from you.

If you feel that you can not properly convey the necessary information, offer to sign a letter that has been drafted by the person who is requesting the reference. This is a very common practice and often works well for both parties.

However, before you sign something written by someone else, make sure that the letter honestly reflects your true opinion. You should also keep a copy of the final letter for your records.

What to Include
Every recommendation letter should include three key components:
  • A paragraph or sentence that explains how you know this person and the duration of your relationship with them.
  • An evaluation of the person and their skills/accomplishments. If possible offer specific examples that illustrate the person's strengths and qualifications.
  • A summary that explains why you would recommend this person and to what degree you would recommend them.

Things to Discuss
The content of your recommendation letter will depend upon the needs of the person who is requesting it, but there are some common topics that you can address:
  • Potential
  • Skills/Abilities/Strengths
  • Dependability
  • Consistence
  • Character
  • Contributions (to class or community)
  • Accomplishments