How to Write a Letter of Recommendation

A Thousand Cuts

No one wants to deal with a bad reference, so when writing a letter of recommendation it is important to focus on how to demonstrate the subject’s skill set, professional qualities and achievements in the best light so that a future employer will gain an insightful comprehension of what type of employee this person would be in the new employment position. You may be asked to write a letter of recommendation for one of your former employees, managers or colleagues. There are several factors to consider when writing a letter of recommendation which will all be discussed in this article.

See Also: What is a Good Reference and How Do I Get One?

1. Consider the Type of Letter Required

Before even starting to write the letter, you should consider which type of letter is required. For example, you may be requested to write a general letter that is not specific to a certain job that the individual is applying to. When writing this general letter, you would focus on their various skills, experience and achievements, and how they would apply to the general requirements for jobs in their current career field.

However, if you were requested to write a recommendation letter for a specific job that the individual is applying for, there are some different considerations to take. For example, you need to write your letter with the specific job requirements in mind so that you can demonstrate through the content how this individual would be the best candidate for the employment position. Request to have a copy of the employment posting so that you can refer back to what the company is specifically requiring of the candidate in order to be successful in the job assimilation. When writing the letter, include specific content that showcases why the individual’s skills as marketing consultant, for example, would be well-suited to the job requirements.

2. Information You Need to Obtain

In order to write an effective recommendation letter, you will need to have a comprehensive knowledge of the individual you’re writing about. Most likely you have an actual personal or professional relationship with this person. However, if you want to write the best letter that most effectively highlights their abilities and accomplishments, you need to review their career life on paper. For example, ask for a current copy of this individual’s résumé. As mentioned in the previous section, you will need to have a copy of the job description and requirements for the position this person is applying for. Additionally, if you want to give the best recommendation, you should consider reviewing this individual’s basic cover letter template so you can review how they’ve been presenting themselves on paper.

Even if you are writing a letter for a general professional recommendation, you should still obtain a copy of the person’s résumé and cover letter. Obviously, you will not need a copy of the job posting then. If you want to do the most comprehensive job with writing your letter, ask this individual to give you a brief elevator speech on who they are as a professional, a concise description of their skill set, and what their career objective is. When you know how this person perceives themselves as a professional, you will be better able to write the best professional recommendation letter for them. Basically, the more you know about this individual, the more accurately you can describe them as a viable candidate for a new job, while giving your own professional opinion of them.

3. How to Effectively Include Your Content

When writing a recommendation, it is important to clearly state in the beginning of the letter, in your introductory paragraph, how you know this individual. For example, if you know this person from work, mention your job title such as Expert Referral Manager as well as the employment position that this individual held. You should give a concise description of how you both interrelated on a professional level in the workplace. This is especially important if you were the person’s manager and had direct oversight on his daily work performance. In this paragraph, you should also include specific details on how long you worked with or supervised this individual.

With regard to the secondary section of the letter, you need to give specific details that demonstrate your knowledge of this individual’s professional abilities, expertise, workplace experience, and accomplishments. If you don’t know how to describe in a detailed yet concise manner about this person’s viability as a candidate, you won’t create an effective recommendation letter that builds confidence in the mind of the hiring manager who will read it. An important way to demonstrate this individual’s viability as a candidate is to share a listing of his professional assets such as his ability to multitask and complete projects in a timely manner within deadlines.

The main content of this letter must include some facts or evidence that what you’re writing is valid so that the hiring manager has confidence in your words and he doesn’t have a vague feeling about the candidate. For example, evidence would include your specific interaction with this person and how he was able to complete those projects within deadlines. You can be specific in this section by describing a few different examples of how this individual utilized their skill set to work to their optimal ability in the workplace. Include a short description of this person’s special achievements such as increased client base and achieved “Salesperson of the Year”. Make sure that all the content you include has a point and all correlates back to how this individual is a perfect match for the new job position or employment in his current career field. The most important goal is that you demonstrate how this individual completed his work while contributing to the productivity of the company as a whole.

Carefully consider how you close out the letter. Think of it as if you were a lawyer giving your closing statement to a jury in a courtroom. That lawyer would try to be as persuasive as possible to get the jury to align with his perspective of the plaintiff or defendant. Take that mindset and use that when you write the closing paragraph. Those words will be the last thing the hiring manager will read, so make every word count. You can share your personal opinion on why you feel this person will make a perfect fit at their company. Don’t forget to include your contact information such as a phone number in case the hiring manager would like to speak with you to further discuss this individual.

See Also: How to Get a Reference Letter After Getting Fired   

Writing a recommendation letter should be seen as an honorable thing. When someone asks you to write one for them, it shows that they trust you and the personal or professional relationship that you both had. They believe that you trusted them as an effective professional and that they would be a viable addition to the new company they’re applying to.

Make sure that you understand whether or not you’ve been requested to write a recommendation for a specific job or general employment. Take the time to obtain the correct information from this individual so that you can write an effective letter. Be comprehensive in your demonstration of this individual’s viability as a candidate through the concise details that you share regarding his ability and expertise.

Have you ever written a recommendation letter for anyone? What type of examples of workplace experience did you include?