Personal Development
How to Write a Letter of Recommendation (With Examples)

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation (With Examples)

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A Comprehensive Guide to Writing Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation (LoR) are essential components of various applications, such as job and school applications. They help hiring managers, school examiners, and other decision-makers understand the qualities and strengths of an applicant through the testimony of someone who knows the applicant well. Depending on the purpose of the letter, the LoR may include relevant details such as qualifications, accomplishments, and character traits.

Writing an Effective LoR

When writing a LoR, it is important to focus on the applicant's abilities and accomplishments. Make sure to give pertinent examples that show expertise in the relevant area, as well as details about the applicant's work ethic, interpersonal skills, and teamwork skills. Furthermore, provide your opinion of the applicant's potential for success and include your contact information should they need to provide more information.

If you were asked to write a LoR for a friend, it is important to make sure that the letter is professional and accurate. Highlight the person's noteworthy qualities, accomplishments, and skills, and include examples to back up your claims. Additionally, make sure to include contact information for yourself.

In addition, you may occasionally be asked to write a LoR for a former colleague. If the experience with the individual was positive, it is likely that you would be willing to help them out. Writing an effective LoR, however, requires some thought and insight into the person's history and character.

Essentially, a LoR is meant to validate the applicant's skills, knowledge, and experience to support their application. The person writing the LoR vouches for the applicant, expressing why they are the best candidate for the position. Generally, the LoR would be addressed to a hiring manager, admissions committee, or potential employer, and could be required for various reasons, such as applying for a job, fellowship program, scholarships, awards, grants, or graduate or professional school programs.

When writing a LoR, the letter writer should demonstrate their communication skills by presenting a positive image of the applicant. For instance, if the applicant is switching careers, the writer must be able to emphasize transferable skills, such as excellent public speaking or the ability to handle multiple deadlines simultaneously.

However, be aware that a LoR is different from a reference letter. The former focuses on the applicant's skills, knowledge, and experience, while the latter discusses their character traits and work ethic. Both letters require specific details and examples to get a full picture of the individual.

Writing Tips for Letters of Recommendation

Writing a LoR is no small task, especially if you haven't done it before. Fortunately, you are not alone�according to a national poll by CBS, 37% of Americans said they haven't written a personal letter in five years, and 15% had never written one altogether.

Organizational skills are the key to writing an effective letter, so if your organizational prowess leaves something to be desired, a letter of recommendation template may come in handy. Generally, a LoR should include the following five sections:

  • Greetings: Keep the opening brief and correctly address the recipient. You can use their name and title, or generic expressions such as "To whom it may concern" or 'Dear [University Name] admission committee.'
  • Introduction: Explain who you are, your relationship with the candidate, and why you are recommending them for the opportunity. Also, make sure to state the reason for writing the letter and hint at what the following sections will cover.
  • Relevancy: Outline the experience or skills that make the candidate a great fit for the job or program.
  • Qualifications: In this section, discuss the individual's qualifications with specific examples of experiences to show why they would be perfect for the role.
  • Conclusion: Summarize the major points of the letter and emphasize why the applicant is the most suitable candidate for the position.

Writing a Letter of Recommendation

Writing a letter of recommendation is a great way to support someone you care about in achieving their dreams. Taking the time to understand the fundamentals and following a specific format can help you craft an effective letter of recommendation quickly and easily.

Body of the Letter

This section contains the most essential information. It should provide a comprehensive overview of the person's experiences, abilities, and industry knowledge. To give evidence of their aptitudes, include personal anecdotes that cover their skillset. For example, you could illustrate their communication skills by referring to a time when they successfully collaborated with colleagues on a large research project.

Closing Statement

A great letter of recommendation needs a powerful closing statement. This is your opportunity to briefly sum up your points and explain why you are providing a strong recommendation. Aim to be both succinct and comprehensive, while avoiding repeating details that have already been mentioned.

Tips for Writing a Letter of Recommendation

Familiarizing yourself with the letter's structure can make the writing process much easier. Remember to select your words carefully and pay attention to detail. Here are some useful tips for crafting a letter of recommendation:

  • Gather all the necessary information before you start writing
  • Maintain a positive tone, but avoid clich�s
  • Adapt your tone to the situation
  • Emphasize the most important details
  • Check your letter multiple times

Letter of Recommendation Examples

The information you include in a letter of recommendation depends on whether the recipient is applying for a job, a graduate program, or a scholarship. Though each letter follows the same basic format, you can use the opening section to reflect the specifics of the situation. Here are three examples of how to begin a letter of recommendation, as well as some general tips for the remainder of the letter.

Recommendation letter for a job: It is my pleasure to recommend [Person's name] for the Data Scientist role at X Company. I was [Person's name] supervisor from 2011-2021 and admired their wide-ranging knowledge of software programs, their efficiency, and their prior experience. Above all, their original problem-solving methods helped our team excel on tasks. I have witnessed their abilities grow significantly and believe they would be the ideal candidate for this position.

Recommendation letter for graduate school: I strongly recommend [Person's name] for admittance to the [program] at X University. I am a psychology professor at Y University and had the pleasure of teaching [Person's name] in [course code] during their bachelor's degree program in nutrition. [Person's name] was always noticeable among other students due to their ability to study subjects with remarkable depth and to apply feedback when developing more sophisticated strategies for presenting nutritional research. Besides, their excellent teamwork capabilities and communication skills demonstrate that they are well-equipped to work in collaborative environments.

Recommendation letter for a scholarship: I highly recommend choosing [Person's name] for your annual marketing scholarship. I was a coworker of [Person's name] from 2015-2022 and observed their skill in applying marketing strategies and using data to forecast future trends. [Person's name] started as an intern and has since obtained a full-time paid role. During their employment at X Company, they have been an outstanding leader and have always displayed the highest level of professionalism. They would be the ideal applicant for your scholarship, and would proudly represent your scholarship and their school.

Writing a Letter of Recommendation

Writing a successful letter of recommendation requires strong organizational and communication skills. It also requires the writer to be honest and authentic in their praise. Letters of recommendation are used for many purposes, such as helping a friend land a job, getting accepted into a school, or signing a lease agreement. No matter the purpose, letters of recommendation should meet certain guidelines and be as detailed as possible.

How To Ask For A Letter Of Recommendation

Asking for a letter of recommendation requires thought and consideration. It is important to choose someone who knows you well and can speak positively about you. Generally, it is best to ask someone who has given you a good grade or someone you have worked with closely, such as a supervisor. Asking a family member or someone in a position of authority such as an employer or coach is not advisable.

When To Ask For A Letter Of Recommendation

You should always give your recommender plenty of time to write a strong letter. Give them at least three weeks notice, or as much time as possible before the deadline for the letter. If the deadline is less than three weeks away, it is best to extend the deadline if possible. Make sure to explain the situation and thank them for their help.

How To Ask For A Letter Of Recommendation

When asking for a letter of recommendation, explain why you are asking and provide them with a resume outlining your qualifications as well as any other materials they may need. Additionally, if there is any specific information you would like to be included in the letter, make sure to provide it to the professor.

Example Scripts To Ask For A Letter Of Recommendation

Here are some example scripts to get you started when asking for a letter of recommendation:

  • I am applying to [school/program] and am looking for a letter of recommendation. I would be very grateful for your assistance.
  • I am writing to request a letter of recommendation from you for my application to [school/program]. I am confident that your input would be invaluable and I would be extremely appreciative of your consideration.
  • I am applying to [school/program] and am in need of a letter of recommendation. I believe that you could provide insight into my skills and qualifications that would be helpful in my application. Would you be able to help me by writing a letter of recommendation?
  • I am applying to [school/program] and would be grateful if you could write me a letter of recommendation. I have attached my resume which outlines my qualifications and I would deeply appreciate your help.

Things To Consider When Writing A Letter Of Recommendation

When writing a letter of recommendation, there are certain things to keep in mind. For one, it is important to be as detailed as possible and to ask for clarification about specific aspects of the application. Secondly, make sure to include everything that is necessary. Finally, the letter should be honest and showcase the person's accomplishments in an authentic way.

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

Requesting a letter of recommendation can be an intimidating process. However, there are several ways to make the process smoother and increase your chances of success.

Find the Right Person

The first step is to select the ideal person to provide a recommendation. Choose someone who can speak to your skills and abilities in a meaningful way. Consider the type of position you are applying for and which qualities are most important to highlight. Then, select someone from your network who has the knowledge and experience necessary to provide an accurate evaluation.

Plan in Advance

It is essential to give your reference enough time to draft a successful letter of recommendation. Give at least two to three weeks notice before the deadline for your application. This will provide the best opportunity for your reference to give a thoughtful and detailed evaluation. Additionally, explain what the letter of recommendation will be used for and provide any relevant documents they may request.

Sample Script

The following is an example of an appropriate way to ask someone for a letter of recommendation:

  • "Hello _____,
  • I am hoping that you would be able to provide me with a letter of recommendation for my upcoming [position/degree/course]. I would be extremely appreciative if you could do so.
  • I am applying for [position/degree/course] because [reason for applying]. I believe that I possess the qualities necessary for success in this role and I would be thankful for your support.
  • The deadline for my application is [date], so I would be grateful if you could complete the letter of recommendation by then. If you have any questions or would like additional information, please don't hesitate to let me know.
  • Thank you for your time and consideration.
  • Sincerely, [your name]


With mindful consideration as to who to ask, ample planning time, and clear communication, you are well on your way to a successful request for a letter of recommendation. Using the sample script, you can easily ask for the letters of recommendation required for your application.

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