What is a letter of recommendation?
This is a letter written for the purpose of recommending an individual as suitable for a job, service, or position she has applied for. These letters are also known as letters of reference.
Some companies require that an applicant names at least two referees. These are then called upon to write recommendation letters.
It is very important that you learn how to write effective recommendation letters, because one day, you may be called upon to write such a letter for a friend. Depending on how you write it, you may break or make your friend, so to speak.
A recommendation letter is applicable in the following situations:
So how do you go about writing a letter of reference?
To write an effective letter of reference, you must be aware of the following:
Usually, the first step is that the company or institution that your friend applied to will send you a letter, requiring that you provide a recommendation. Before you set out writing your letter, you must pay particular attention to the requirements specified by the prospective employer, and then tailor your letter accordingly.
Sometimes, you may not receive a letter, but rather, you may be informed by phone or other means. But even then, do not write the letter blindly, without knowing what is needed.
In short, you must be aware of what the employer or institution wants and then set about to give reasons why your friend is qualified for the position.
I will best illustrate how to write a recommendation letter with example. Though the letter must be tailored according to each individual and situation, the basic format remains the same. I reckon that two examples will be enough for you to learn how to write a good letter of reference.
We will start with the event that a student applies for a scholarship at a certain university. Let us put you in the shoes of the student’s former Lecturer. You are called upon to write a letter of recommendation. Here is the letter that is sent to you:
Now, here is how you should go about writing this letter.
After reading this letter, it is obvious that you are required to provide ample evidence that Natasha is genuinely qualified. You should provide evidence that she is a high quality student.
With reference to your request (30th March, 2009), I would like to humour you with a character reference for Natasha Lewis and recommend her for your undergraduate programme. I have known Natasha for two years, having been her Mathematics lecturer. Because of her dutiful attitude towards school, she was one of my favourite students.
Pay particular attention to how you draft your opening sentences. They almost immediately reveal how you feel about the person you are writing about. The very first sentence should convey your deep confidence in the individual and your pleasure at recommending her.
To show how highly you think of the person, you could re-write the opening sentence in this manner:
With reference to your request (30th March 2009), it is with the utmost pleasure and honour that I recommend Natasha Lewis for your undergraduate programme.
Move to general to specific, and if possible, mention particular experiences that remove any doubts as to the individual’s credentials.
Natasha is a very hard working girl. Her high grades are definitely a result of her own hard work. She is honest and she had no record of cheating in assignments, tests or examinations. Furthermore, she is able to work under tremendous pressure and meet deadlines.
Natasha does not believe in taking the easy way out. At one time, all her classmates walked out on a test, claiming it was too difficult. However, Natasha remained, completed the test, and managed to pass it. .
Admitting Natasha will not be a mistake. I am confident that she will work extra hard and earn her degree in the required time. She is indeed more than qualified for the scholarship. For further information or questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Now let put our letter together and see how it appears:
For the second example, imagine that you are an employer, and one of your employees resigns, seeking a position elsewhere. However, he insists that you write him a letter of recommendation.
You will follow similar guidelines to the ones mentioned above, so I will try not to repeat myself. However, you must take note of the following:
Although George easily gets offended, he willingly apologises when shown to be in the wrong.
Here is the complete letter:
I sure hope that these guidelines have helped you to polish up your skill at writing letters of recommendation. To keep up to date with all my latest articles on letter writing, please subscribe to Writer Digest:
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