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How to write a letter of recommendation?

Posted by Manjusha Filed in Business English

While writing a letter of recommendation your aim should be to provide an unbiased but positive judgment of the applicant’s skills, character and qualities. Before you start writing a recommendation letter, take some time and plan what you want to say. Here are a few tips for making your task easier.

State your relationship with the applicant and your qualifications

Start the letter by explaining how you know the applicant. It is important. If you do not know the applicant well, you are not supposed to write a letter recommending her. What sort of relationship you have with the applicant – personal or professional? Why do you think that this applicant stands out from the rest of her caliber? You must also state your qualifications for writing the recommendation letter.

List the applicant’s skills

Once you have explained your relationship with the applicant, you should list the applicant’s skills and qualifications that would make her a suitable candidate for the position she has applied for. Write about her prior experience in the field, organizational skills, academic or other achievements. Put a special emphasis on those points that you want the reader to note on the applicant’s resume.

Give your judgment of the applicant. Why do you think that she is better than the rest? Include specific examples to back up what you have said about the applicant’s skills and strengths. Avoid generalized praise because it is a waste of time and space.

Don’t be too brief

Don’t be too brief but be precise. Make sure that every word counts. Write more than two or three paragraphs. A letter of recommendation for employment should be one page; a college recommendation letter should be 1 or 2 pages.

Write a strong closing statement, but resist the temptation to overdo it. Praise the applicant and her skills, but don’t give undue praise because it would be viewed as insincere.

Give your contact information if you are willing to entertain follow-up correspondence.


A recommendation letter represents two people – the person who writes it and the person for whom it is written. Do not create a bad impression by writing a letter full of grammar and spelling mistakes. So proofread the letter before sending it.

What not to write in a letter of recommendation?

Do not state any weaknesses of the applicant. Don’t forget that you are writing a letter of recommendation. It must not include anything negative that would affect the applicant’s chances of getting the job or promotion. If you cannot give a positive opinion, you must not consider writing the recommendation letter in the first place.

Unless it is absolutely necessary do not write anything about the applicant’s race, religion, age, gender, national origin or marital status.

See Also
Business letter writing tips
How to Write an Apology Letter
Business Apology Letter Sample I
Personal Apology Letter Sample I
Email writing tips
Resume writing
How to write a cover letter
How to write a letter of enquiry
Standard phrases used in formal letters MBA recommendation letter sample


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