close Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn

How To Write A Letter Of Recommendation In 2022

Discover how to write a letter of recommendation, including exclusive tips on what to include that will make it stand out.
by Rob Gillham | Aug 20 2022

Referral letters are written on behalf of applicants by people who can vouch for their academic or professional abilities. Admissions officers or hiring managers usually receive this letter when considering a candidate for admission, employment, or scholarship.

It is important to have letters of recommendation to round out your application. In addition to offering insight into the applicant’s personal qualities, they provide insight into their ability to be a good leader. A well-written letter of recommendation from a teacher, counselor, manager, or co-worker can give applicants an edge over their competitors.

Are you ready to get started? Learn how to write a letter of recommendation with our top tips and helpful guide below. 

Start With Background Research

Check with the candidate to know exactly what position they are applying for. Obtain the following information from them. Firstly, the job description or requirements for the academic program. Second, a resume of their qualifications. It is also helpful to ask what skills, achievements, or qualifications they wish to see highlighted. 

Once you have this information, you’ll be able to tailor your letter to the skills and qualifications that are relevant to the role the candidate is applying for.

Don’t Generalize 

Remember to make your writing personal, even if you are using a template. Make sure to use examples and specific details to demonstrate why this candidate is the best fit for the position. Instead of using general terms or cliches, choose strong, accurate adjectives. 

Take into account what the person reading the letter might need to know. Don’t be afraid to include details or insight that wouldn’t necessarily appear on a resume or application. It is important to provide a personal introduction to the person you are recommending in your letter.

Don’t Be Negative

In a letter of recommendation, it is your responsibility to confirm that this candidate is an excellent candidate for whatever they are applying for. Don’t make comments that could be construed negatively, and show honest enthusiasm. Compare them with others you have worked with to try and highlight their qualifications and skills.

Short And Sweet

The font size of the letter of recommendation should be twelve points in either Arial or Times New Roman. If possible, write your letter on your organization’s letterhead. Keep your letter concise and to the point, as the recipient likely reads dozens if not hundreds of letters per day. You should aim for at least one page, but no more than two.

Set The Right Tone

A letter of recommendation should be professional in tone. You should write it in the same manner as an email to professional contacts or a reference letter. This letter isn’t supposed to be formal like an academic paper, but it shouldn’t also assume familiarity with the recipient or read like a casual email. If you use the wrong tone in your recommendation letter, it can reflect poorly on the person you’re recommending.

How To Structure A Letter Of Recommendation 

Address the recipient. 

You should greet the recipient directly in the first line of your letter. Try not to get creative here; a simple “Dear Mr./Ms./Mrs./Mx./Dr.” is sufficient. ____” is the best choice. You can start your letter with “To whom it may concern” if you do not know the recipient’s name.

Introduce the letter.

Your next line should clearly state the name of the candidate and the position they have been recommended for. In this section, you can also introduce yourself. Voicing your introduction effectively can be as simple as:

Please accept my recommendation for [Candidate’s first and last name] to attend [University’s name]. During the past three years, I have taught [Candidate] at [High school’s name].

“I am pleased to recommend [Candidate’s first and last name] for the position at [Name of Agency]. For the past six years, I have worked with [Candidate] at [Company].

Give an overview.

Describe what makes the candidate a great candidate for the position they’re looking for in this section. In addition to personality traits and skills, the recommendation may also focus on the candidate’s skills and accomplishments, depending on the type.

Provide an example of your relationship with the candidate.

Personal stories that highlight the candidate’s traits and skills should be used to illustrate the traits you discussed in your overview. Describe a particular project that the candidate led or include statistics about their work if possible.


Your letter should conclude with a statement reiterating your recommendation. A personal testimonial can be included in this statement, such as the following example:

“Having worked with [Candidate] for two years, I can confidently recommend them as a potential employee.”

Signing off.

Your letter should be signed at the end. The signature of your recommendation letter should include more than just your name. Under your name, include your professional title, even if you mentioned your relationship with the candidate.

Include your contact information in your signature so that the recipient can reach you if they need to discuss the candidate further. You should include your phone number and email address, as well as your work hours.

Insider Tips On How To Write A Letter Of Recommendation


1. Stick To The Facts 


It is important that your letter of recommendation is concise, just like a cover letter. Any details you choose to include should support the reasons why the candidate is the best choice for the position they’re seeking. If you’re interviewing candidates for nursing school, discussing their ethical commitment is an important detail to mention. Discussing their character can be helpful, but make it relevant to the role they’re seeking. Be sure to mention the research projects they spearheaded while working with you if you are applying for a grant to conduct archeological research.


2. Give As Much Detail As Possible


A letter of recommendation that contains specific details about the candidate’s work will be more persuasive. Consider mentioning specific conversion rates you achieved while working with a colleague seeking a digital marketing position. Your letter of recommendation should also include anecdotes about the student’s performance on specific assignments and/or extracurricular activities if you are recommending a high school student.


3. Don’t Force Yourself To Write A Letter Of Recommendation If You Are Unable


There are times when you might not be able to write an honest, effective letter of recommendation for someone who asks for one. Whether it’s ignorance or underwhelming or unsatisfactory work, this may be due to you not knowing the person well enough.

If you are unable to discuss their work effectively, or you don’t believe you would be the best person to write their recommendation, the professional way to decline is to tell them you are not familiar with their work simply. Your organization may be able to refer them to someone who has a deeper understanding of their work and, therefore, could write an effective letter of recommendation for them. In the event that this isn’t possible, just tell them you are unable to write them a recommendation letter. Do not denigrate or criticize their work. This is not the time to tell them why you are not impressed with it.


4. Don’t Overdo It


As with not sending a generic description of the candidate’s accomplishments, don’t embellish them either. Take a look at these two examples: “Robin is the best salesperson I have ever worked with. “The sales figures for Robin exceeded her projections every quarter.” Even if it is true, the first example reads more like a character from a work of fiction than an actual testimonial. When you use hyperbole in your letter of recommendation, you undermine its credibility, which can hurt the candidate’s chances of getting hired.

A Recommendation Letter Template

Letters of recommendation for students and professionals should follow a similar format. An introduction, a personal story, an applicant’s background and experience, and a closing statement should be included. Take a look at our example below. 

To Whom It May Concern:

Please accept my strong recommendation for [Applicant Name] for [position with Company Name or acceptance to Institution Name].

My name is [Your Name] and I work at [Institution or Company]. Having worked in [your industry or academic focus] for [number] years, I have seen many young professionals come and go. One of the individuals I have worked with who stands out is [Applicant Name]. 

As we worked together, [Applicant Name] demonstrated great abilities in different areas. [Applicant’s Name] immediately impressed me when we first met, but during the time we worked together, her understanding of [key topic] grew significantly.

[Include a personal story highlighting a key skill, trait, or experience].

I am impressed by more than just [Applicant’s Name] ‘s technical skills. Due to [Pronoun] ‘s amazingly positive attitude and [positive trait], it was a pleasure to work with [Name].

There is no doubt in my mind that [Applicant Name] would be a great fit for your [Institution/Company]. Additionally, [Pronoun] will bring the skills and experiences you’re looking for in an applicant, as well as quickly become an asset to your [Institution/Company] and contribute to its growth in any way it can.

Feel free to contact me at [contact information] if you need more information or specific examples. It would be my pleasure to elaborate further on my experience working with [Pronoun], since a recommendation letter probably only presents a snapshot of their talents and accomplishments.


Name, title, and company

Facebook Twitter Tumblr Instagram LinkedIn Flickr Email Print