Letter of Recommendation

Letter of Recommendation Template

A Letter of Recommendation serves the purpose of endorsing an applicant's professional or educational performance and is commonly requested as part of job or college application processes.

A letter of recommendation is a written and signed document that provides an evaluation of an individual's character, as well as their professional or academic performance. Typically, applicants utilize these letters when seeking employment opportunities or applying for college admission.

Table Of Contents

What is a Letter of Recommendation?

A Letter of Recommendation is a written document crafted on behalf of a job or college applicant. It is composed of an individual who can provide an informed assessment of the applicant's professional or educational performance. Typically, this letter is submitted to a hiring manager, admissions officer, or scholarship committee as part of the candidate's application for employment, admission, or financial assistance.

Types of Letter of Recommendation

There are various types of Letters of Recommendation that referees can write to support individuals in different contexts. Here are some common types:

1. Job Recommendation Letter:

  • Purpose: This letter is designed to recommend an applicant for a job position.
  • Content: It should emphasize the applicant's relevant work experience and skills that make them a suitable candidate for the job.

2. Graduate or Professional School Recommendation Letter:

  • Purpose: This letter is used to endorse a college student's application for admission into a graduate or professional program, such as a master's program, law school, or medical school.
  • Content: It should highlight the student's academic achievements, qualifications, and potential for success in the chosen program.

3. Scholarship Recommendation Letter:

  • Purpose: This letter recommends a student as a deserving candidate for a scholarship opportunity.
  • Content: It should discuss the student's academic accomplishments, any awards or honors received, and why they are a strong candidate for the scholarship.

4. Character Reference Letter for Court:

  • Purpose: This letter provides insights into an individual's character, values, and morals, particularly in the context of legal proceedings.
  • Content: It should offer a detailed assessment of the person's character, emphasizing qualities that may be relevant to their case or situation.

Whom to Approach for Your Letter of Recommendation

Selecting the right referee based on the specific purpose of the recommendation letter is crucial to ensure the letter effectively supports your application or candidacy. When seeking a letter of recommendation, it's essential to choose individuals who can provide meaningful and credible insights into your qualifications and character. Here's a breakdown of potential referees and their suitability for various contexts:

1. Family Members:

  • Some jobs and academic institutions may accept letters of recommendation from family members who can vouch for your professional and academic skills. Additionally, family members can provide character reference letters for court.
  • Family members can offer a unique perspective on your abilities, especially if they have witnessed your growth and development in various areas.

2. Friends:

  • While family members can provide character references, recommendations from friends, particularly those unrelated to you, tend to carry more weight.
  • Friends can provide insights into your character, values, and personal qualities, enhancing the depth of a character reference letter.

3. Mentors and Coaches:

  • Mentors and coaches are ideal for attesting to your personality, character, and work habits.
  • Their mentorship and guidance experiences with you can demonstrate your potential and growth in professional or academic settings.

4. Managers and Co-workers:

  • Former and current managers and co-workers are valuable referees when applying for new job opportunities.
  • They can vouch for your professional skills, work experience, and contributions in a workplace environment.

5. Professors:

  • Professors are well-suited for recommending students applying for scholarships or graduate school programs.
  • They can assess your academic skills, work ethic, and potential for success in a scholarly or research-oriented environment.

Requesting a Letter of Recommendation - A Considerate Approach

A well-crafted letter of recommendation can provide valuable insights into your character and aptly contextualize your application. When seeking a letter of recommendation, it's crucial to approach the request thoughtfully and considerately. Follow these steps to make the process smooth and effective:

1. Choose the Right Communication Method:

  • Consideration: Select an appropriate method to approach your potential referee. Email is commonly used as it allows you to provide additional information and gives the referee time to consider their response. However, if you share a close relationship, a phone call or in-person meeting might be more personal.
  • Pro Tip: If scheduling a meeting, follow up with an email confirming the date and time.

2. Ask Politely and Respectfully:

  • Consideration: Always be considerate when making your request. Avoid assuming that the person will readily agree to write a recommendation letter. They may have time constraints, lack of interest, or limited knowledge of your experiences.
  • Effective Approach: Instead of a direct request like, "Will you please write a letter of recommendation for me?" use phrases such as, "Do you think you could provide a letter of recommendation for me?" or "Do you have any suggestions for a suitable character reference?" These open-ended questions allow the person to contemplate their response.

3. Provide Guidance on What to Include:

  • Consideration: While the final letter's content is at the discretion of the referee, offering guidance is beneficial.
  • Effective Approach: Share relevant materials, such as links to scholarship descriptions, your resume, and writing samples, if applicable. Clearly communicate your objectives and motivations, and suggest areas they might highlight, such as previous scholarships and awards.

4. Express Gratitude with a Thank-You Note:

  • Consideration: Show appreciation for their support by sending a thank-you note after receiving the recommendation letter.
  • Effective Approach: In case you secure the position or opportunity, express your gratitude and let them know that their reference played a significant role in your success.

Requesting a letter of recommendation with sensitivity and thoughtfulness not only reflects positively on your character but also increases the likelihood of a positive response from your potential referee.

Crafting a Comprehensive Letter of Recommendation

A well-structured letter of recommendation should encompass vital information to provide a clear and compelling endorsement. Here are the essential components to include:

1. Applicant's Details:

  • Clarity: Begin by stating the full name of the applicant for whom the letter is written.

2. Referee's Information:

  • Identification: Mention the name, professional position, and up-to-date contact information of the referee.

3. Purpose of the Recommendation:

  • Transparency: Clearly state why the referee is composing this letter of recommendation. Is it for a job application, educational pursuit, or scholarship consideration?

4. Relationship with the Applicant:

  • Introduction: Describe the nature of the relationship between the referee and the applicant. This provides context and credibility to the recommendation.

5. Qualifications Match:

  • Alignment: Explain how the applicant aligns with the specific requirements or criteria of the job, degree program, or scholarship they are seeking. Highlight their relevant skills, attributes, and accomplishments.

6. Personal Anecdote:

  • Illustration: Share a personal anecdote or specific example that illustrates the applicant's qualifications and character. This adds depth and authenticity to the recommendation.

Including these elements ensures that the letter of recommendation is comprehensive, informative, and impactful, aiding the applicant in their pursuit of their goals.

Seeking a Letter of Recommendation Gracefully

Securing a persuasive letter of recommendation can significantly bolster your application's impact. Follow these steps to request a letter of recommendation with grace and effectiveness:

Choose Your Communication Method Wisely

Before approaching a potential referee, carefully consider the most suitable communication method. While email is often preferred for its convenience and space for additional details, personal relationships may warrant phone calls or face-to-face meetings. If scheduling a meeting, remember to send a follow-up email to confirm the specifics.

Make a Polite Request

When seeking a letter of recommendation, it's essential to be polite and considerate. Avoid making assumptions about the referee's willingness. Instead of a direct request like, "Will you please write a letter of recommendation for me?" consider phrasing your inquiry as, "Do you think you can provide a letter of recommendation for me?" or "Do you know anyone who would make a good character reference?" These questions offer the individual space and time to contemplate their commitment.

Provide Guidance to the Referee

While the final content of the letter rests with the referee, offering guidance can ensure it aligns with your goals. For example, if you're applying for a research scholarship, provide links to scholarship details, share your resume, and offer writing samples showcasing your research capabilities. Express your motivation and aspirations regarding the scholarship, and kindly request that the referee emphasize your prior scholarships and awards, if applicable.

Extend Gratitude with a Thank-You Note

After receiving the letter of recommendation, demonstrate your gratitude by sending a heartfelt thank-you note. If you secure the desired position or opportunity, inform the referee about your success, highlighting the instrumental role their reference played in your achievement.

Key Components of a Compelling Letter of Recommendation

A well-crafted letter of recommendation should encompass the following vital elements:

  1. Applicant's Identity:

    Applicant's Name: Clearly state the name of the individual for whom the recommendation is being written.

  1. Referee's Information:

    Referee's Details: Include the referee's full name, professional position, and contact information to establish credibility.

  1. Purpose of the Recommendation:

    Reason for Recommendation: Clarify why the referee is writing the letter on behalf of the applicant. This context provides a foundation for the recommendation.

  1. Relationship with the Applicant:

    Referee-Applicant Connection: Define the relationship between the referee and the applicant. Explain how they know each other, whether through work, academic interactions, or other contexts.

  1. Qualifications Match:

    Alignment with Requirements: Articulate how the applicant aligns with the specific requirements or criteria of the job, degree, or scholarship they are pursuing. Highlight their skills, achievements, and attributes that make them strong candidates.

  1. Personal Anecdote or Insight:

    Illustrative Narrative: Share a personal anecdote or insight that vividly illustrates the applicant's qualifications. This narrative adds depth and authenticity to the recommendation.

Writing an Impressive Letter of Recommendation

Writing a compelling letter of recommendation doesn't have to be a daunting task. Follow these steps to create an outstanding recommendation:

Step 1: Use a Template

Start with a letter of recommendation template to streamline the process.

Step 2: Address the Recipient

Begin with a polite greeting, using "Dear" followed by the recipient's title and name. If you're unsure of the recipient's name, "To whom it may concern" is acceptable.

Step 3: Introduction

Clearly state the purpose of the letter, mention the candidate's name, and specify the position or opportunity they are being recommended for. Introduce yourself and your relationship with the candidate.

Step 4: Highlight Attributes

List the candidate's standout attributes, including accomplishments, skills, personality traits, and experiences relevant to the recommendation.

Step 5: Share Personal Experiences

Provide specific anecdotes that illustrate the candidate's attributes. Use detailed examples to showcase their strengths.

Step 6: Summarize Your Recommendation

Endorse the candidate and summarize your recommendation. Personalize it by mentioning your relationship with the candidate.

Step 7: Conclusion and Signature

Encourage the recipient to reach out for additional information. Sign off with a complimentary close, your name, professional title, signature, date, and contact information.

Crafting Outstanding Recommendation Letters

Crafting a standout recommendation letter requires attention to detail and a personal touch. Follow these tips to ensure your recommendation letter shines:

Personalization is Key

Even when using a template, personalize your letter. Research the candidate's goals and ask for their resume, job description, and achievements to create a tailored recommendation.

Specificity Matters

Avoid vague statements. Instead, provide specific reasons why the candidate is ideal for the position. Share insights and details beyond what's on their application.

Inject Enthusiasm

Show genuine enthusiasm for the candidate's application. Avoid any negative comments and consider making positive comparisons with others you've encountered.

Stay Relevant

Focus on achievements and experiences directly relevant to the candidate's desired position or program. Keep your letter concise and to the point.

Keep It Concise

Busy decision-makers appreciate brevity. Aim for a one to two-page letter to ensure it's read thoroughly.

Honesty is Okay

If you can't provide an enthusiastic recommendation, it's acceptable to decline. Lackluster references can be as damaging as negative ones.


What to write in a letter of recommendation?

In a letter of recommendation, you should write about the candidate's qualifications, skills, accomplishments, and why you believe they are a strong fit for the position or program they are applying to. Be specific and enthusiastic in your endorsement.

What is a recommendation letter for an internship?

An internship recommendation letter is a formal document written by someone who can vouch for a student's qualifications and suitability for an internship position. Students typically include this letter in their application materials when applying for internships.

What is a letter of recommendation for reference?

A reference letter, often referred to as a recommendation letter, is a concise document written to a school, company, or organization where an individual is seeking admission or employment. This letter provides insights into the applicant's skills, accomplishments, and character traits that align with their objectives.

Sample For Letter of Recommendation

Loading PDF…

Page 1 of

Related Employment Contracts
  • Leave of Absence Agreement : Use our free Leave of Absence Agreement template to set the terms of an extended period of time off of work.
  • Subcontractor Agreement : Use a Subcontractor Agreement to lay out the terms and conditions between a contractor and a subcontractor.
  • Employment Application : Access a complimentary employment application template here, and gain insight into the essential questions to incorporate.
Loading PDF…