Letter of Recommendation - Free Template for 2020 (+ How to Write One)
A letter of recommendation is a powerful tool for job seekers, students, and professionals. It provides insightful information and validation to statements made from one party to another. A recommendation letter acts as a certificate of validation. And acts as a reference for when employers, admissions committees, faculty, or other professionals are in need of more information.
A recommendation letter or letter of recommendation is often confused with a reference letter. While they are similar, a reference letter is written on behalf of a former employer, colleague, friend or family member when the other party has a specific request regarding insights. For example, when an employer asks for reference letters that show they’re qualified to be a manager. The key difference between a letter of recommendation and a reference letter is that the reference letter is requested by the third party and a letter of recommendation is provided between you and your colleague or friend that can be used in an evergreen fashion.
When Can Recommendation Letters Be Used
There’s a variety of scenarios where a recommendation letter can be used:
- For a job application from a previous employer to a potential employer.
- For a graduate school application on behalf of a student from a professor, teacher or faculty member.
- For a college or scholarship application to an admissions committee.
- For financial aid consideration to a selection committee.
- For a graduate student who is seeking an MBA program (Law School, Medical School, or other).
- For a character reference (personal letter) when seeking a real estate property or other.
Whether you’re writing a letter for a job applicant, scholarship applicant, or student seeking a graduate program, the letter of recommendation should contain the same insights.
Writing a Strong Letter of Recommendation
A great letter of recommendation contains targeted insights that the third party will find useful. Let’s presume we’re writing a recommendation letter for a job applicant. As the letter writer, you should spend time comprehending both what the company values and what you presume the job might value. You can do this by researching the company, the job description, and other assets that your recommendation requester might have available.
Once you have that presumption, you can start to list a specific example or situation where your recommender showed the qualities that you feel the potential employer or hiring manager will find valuable. These situations should be bold achievements that your recommender was able to accomplish. And can help set the expectations of what the future employer might expect from the applicant. Be sure to either ask or provide the recommender with a resume, cover letter, and other assets that can help to write an effective letter.
The same goes for writing a college application letter, committee letter, or academic letter. You should ask the recommender for insights into both the school's values and program requirements to ensure you write achievements and situations where your recommender shows excellence. A helpful tip to make sure that the recommender provides you with the application deadline, personal qualities the committee is looking for, and any other program details that might be useful to write an effective letter.
Writing Your Own Letter of Recommendation
Don’t be confused by how this is described, you should never write your own recommendation letter. But professors or academic professionals who don’t have a lot of free time may ask you to write an outline of what you’re seeking in your recommendation letter. The outline should contain the details described above:
- Your name or the student’s name.
- Personal qualities you want to highlight in the letter.
- Application deadline date.
- What the school, university, or other institution values.
- Test scores or other accolades.
Send this outline to the professional, professor, academic teacher, faculty member, or advisor that you’d like to write your recommendation.
How to Write a Recommendation Letter
Below are the basic components of your letter. Remember, a good recommendation letter should be positive and mention valuable insights.
Your contact information: In this formal letter and business letter, you should include your contact information so the recipient can reach out to you with further questions if they have it.
First paragraph: Your first paragraph should mention what you believe as though the job title, role, university, or institution values and why you are about to recommend the person in question.
Second paragraph: This is your body paragraph. Your second paragraph should include at least two references to situations or work accomplishments that support the values you perceive the employer will desire. Reference the former employee by name and use specific examples. If writing an MBA program, college admissions officer letter, or other academic letters, reference the student's performance or student's strengths. A strong recommendation letter will have this section be the most impactful.
End paragraph: Your end paragraph should suggest that you’d be available for any further questions the hiring manager or reader might have regarding the person in question.
Letter of Recommendation Format
Follow these formatting guidelines when writing a recommendation letter:
- Use a business letter template or default business letter template from Google Docs or Microsoft Word.
- Use a professional font style like Times New Roman, Calibri, or Garamond.
- Use 1.5" line spacing the most.
- Use double line breaks between sections.
- Write in formal letter writing style, using professional language and communication.
- Use 9pt to 11pt font size. Never exceeding 11pt font size.
Below is a sample letter of recommendation from a previous employer, supervisor, or other professional to a job seeker.
Questions from employers and job seekers.
Is the process of asking a professor for a letter of recommendation different than the one provided here?
If you’d like to learn more about asking for a letter of recommendation from a professor, you should visit the guide that walks through that specifically, here.
Is the process of asking for a recommendation letter from a teacher different than the one provided here?
Asking a teacher for a letter of recommendation, either on behalf of another teacher or as a student, can be different. It should discuss relevant coursework versus accomplishments. If you’d like to learn how to write that, you should visit the guide here.
Are additional letters (more than one recommendation letter) helpful to employers?
Multiple recommendation letters can be very valuable to potential employers. Or if you're applying for a graduate program, look at how many required letters are in the requirements portion of your online application or written application.
Related Hiring ResourcesHow to Ask for a Perfect Letter of Recommendation [2020 Updated]
Letter of Recommendation Template for a College Student
Letter of Recommendation for a Coworker (+ How to Write It) - Free Template for 2020
Letter of Recommendation Template for an Intern
How to Ask a Professor for a Letter of Recommendation - Sample Email for 2020
Letter of Recommendation for a Teacher - Free Template Download for 2020
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