What Is a Letter of Recommendation?

A recommendation letter is a formal document that addresses your qualifications and suitability for a particular position. You can use these documents when applying for a new job, seeking admission to college or a scholarship, or seeking a leadership position within a group or organization. Someone who can attest to your skills and experience may be a good candidate for writing your recommendation letter. Former managers, supervisors, or mentors are the best individuals to request a letter of recommendation from because they have established working relationships with you and can attest to your employee strengths. The writer may send the letter to a hiring manager, admissions officer, or any other appropriate party who requested it, or they may send it to you for submission. Although references on a resume in PDF usually suffice as a recommendation, there may be instances when a potential employer requires a stronger endorsement statement. Jobs that need high trust and skill or are highly competitive require a recommendation letter.

Benefits of Letter of Recommendation

Yes, we know that the paperwork and preparation for your college application can be tedious and cause you to overlook many opportunities. Well, recommendation letters are essential to your application to the university of your dreams. Students are increasingly required to compose recommendation letters to gain college admission, graduate school, or obtain employment. Here are a few advantages you may find helpful if you’re still interested.

The universities adore them: Universities adore reading recommendation letters for excellent students! Consider the college application process as a crossword puzzle. Your application is based on everything you’ve done over the past few years, including your GPA, AP scores, and weekly activity schedule. Recommendation letters are crucial for students because they serve as their initial introduction to the admissions committee. Therefore, recommendation letters are the deciding factor if it comes down to you and another candidate.They emphasize personal traits: A letter of recommendation is an essential ponent of this application. They provide insight into the applicant’s personality and character and are valuable to their application. However, why do admissions officers value individual characteristics? Would your grades and test scores suffice? They want to learn more about you because your application has greater depth. To determine the admissibility, the admissions staff must evaluate additional characteristics. In addition, they aim to create a pool of candidates with diverse personalities and backgrounds. As universities are often their communities, admissions officers seek to admit students who will live, work, and play harmoniously with their fellow students. Therefore, a recommendation letter is essential for admission.They bolster the validity of your application: Suppose a university has a holistic admissions philosophy. In that case, it places a high value on applicant information that presents them as a whole person instead of merely a collection of data points. The experiences that high school guidance counselors and professors describe can assist admissions officers in constructing a more accurate overall picture of who you are and the impact you will have on campus, making recommendation letters especially important to them. Each letter of recommendation is unique because an individual writes it for an individual. This indicates that the document will discuss a third party’s perspective and working experience with you.They reflect your vision: A strong recommendation letter should explain your desire to pursue a specific field. These elements of recommendation letters work together to illustrate your future path. If your teacher mentions your passion for writing, involvement with the school newspaper, and interest in international affairs, admissions officers will assume you might pursue a career in journalism. The admissions committee will be confident that you will get along well with your classmates and instructors if they hear about your insightful, caring personality and class participation.They illustrate your interactions with others: Admissions officers are interested in your interpersonal relationships because the college environment is typically collaborative and participative. Receiving a solid letter of recommendation is sufficient evidence of your faculty rapport. Your endorsers will detail their interactions with and impressions of you in writing. Representatives of the admissions office will evaluate your classroom demeanor. They can ensure that you develop strong relationships with your instructors and benefit from their instruction throughout your academic career.

Tips for Writing a Great Recommendation Letter

Take a minute to be proud of yourself if a current or former student, colleague, intern, coworker, or mentee asks you to write them a letter of recommendation. You’ve made an impression on them, and they have enough faith in you to ask for your assistance in advancing their career, education, or other goals. After giving yourself a pat on the back, you should begin composing a letter of reference that would distinguish them as an excellent fit for the position you’re seeking. If you are interested, here are some steps to follow.

1. Keep It Relevant

Perhaps the candidate saved a flock of lambs from a farm fire. This is admirable and cute, but it’s likely relevant to your letter if you’re looking for a local cattle fire department position. Similar to a cover letter, your recommendation letter should be brief. It should highlight the primary reasons why the candidate is the right candidate for the post they are applying for, and any supporting information should support these reasons. Addressing the candidate’s character can be helpful, but it must be tied to their suitability for the position they’re pursuing; for example, if they’re applying to a nursing school, discussing their devotion to ethics is essential. If you are using a grant to perform archeological research, you must include the research initiatives they led while working with you.

2. Provide Detailed Examples, Facts, and Figures

Your letter of recommendation will be more persuasive if it contains more precise details about the candidate’s work. For instance, if you’re writing a letter for a coworker seeking a position in digital marketing, highlight the exact conversion rates they attained while working with you. Similarly, if you suggest a high school student to a university, include tales about their achievement on specific assignments and extracurricular activities.

3. Adopt an Upbeat, Cordial, Yet Professional Tone

As stated previously, the appropriate tone for a letter of recommendation is professional yet friendly. Your relationship with and esteem for the candidate should be evident in the style of your essay.

4. Don’t Write a Bad Recommendation Letter

You may be unable to create an effective, honest letter of recommendation for someone who has requested one. This could be because you need to learn the individual or their work well enough or because you find their work unimpressive or unsatisfying. In either scenario, the appropriate way to deny the request is to explain that you need to be more knowledgeable about their work to discuss it effectively or that you do not believe you are the right person to write them a reference letter. Depending on the circumstances, you could refer them to a colleague inside your business who is more familiar with their work and better equipped to write a strong letter of recommendation. If this is not possible, inform them you cannot write them a letter of recommendation and leave it at that. There is a better time to criticize their work or explain why you’re not impressed.

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation for Graduate School

A recommendation letter for graduate school endorses an applicant for admission to an advanced degree program. Its intended audience is the admissions committee at a college or university, and it can influence the committee’s admissions decision. Academic authorities, such as professors, deans, and academic advisors, can be among the professionals who submit letters of recommendation. Take these steps to compose a compelling letter of reference for a potential student applying to graduate school:

1. Collect Additional Information about the School

The academic institution may have a unique letter of recommendation submission criteria. For instance, you may be required to limit your letter to one page or submit it by a specified date—request information from the candidate regarding the school’s application procedure. You can choose how much time you have to create the letter and ensure you adhere to the instructions so the student remains qualified. Also, it may be beneficial to obtain additional applicant information. Get an updated copy of their CV sample, project portfolio, and transcript to learn about their accomplishment reports. Consider investigating the degree program, including its curriculum and entrance requirements, to be inspired to write about the candidate’s compatibility.

2. Introduce Yourself to the Reader

The first portion of your letter introduces yourself and explains why you are writing to the university. Provide a heading with your name, work title, phone number, and email at the top of the page. The following line may contain a personalized introductory salutation to a university representative. Explain in the opening paragraph why you recommend the individual for admission to the degree program. Explain your relationship with the applicant and the length of time you’ve known them. You may also include a quick summary of their credentials that qualify them for the position.

3. Describe the Candidate’s Pertinent Characteristics

Utilize the body of your letter of recommendation to convince the admissions committee to accept the student. Mention pertinent characteristics, such as course grades, class participation, and skill display. Use the candidate’s collected resources to determine the path of your essay. To keep your letter concise, prioritize information pertinent to the degree program. For instance, if the candidate is seeking a master’s degree in business administration, you could mention their exemplary contributions to a company as an employee.

4. Provide Detailed Illustrations from Your Experience

Concrete examples increase the candidate’s credibility in your eyes. You can let the reader imagine the skill set a student with an advanced degree can utilize. Remember instances in which the candidate showed academic distinction or exceptional work performance. You can describe a time when you witnessed the candidate acquire a new skill or overcome a hurdle, demonstrating their ability to adapt and fulfill deadlines in a challenging program.

5. Reiterate Your Support for the Candidate

Dedicate the final paragraph of your letter of recommendation to a powerful conclusion. Accentuate your support for the candidate’s willingness to pursue their study and mention that you believe they would be an asset to the program. Moreover, you can thank the school representative for reading the letter. Consider inserting a call to action, such as a request for the institution to contact you if they have any additional questions.


Do recommendation letters need to be signed?

Graduate and undergraduate colleges seek reference letters from applicants. Several graduate programs ask the recommendation writer to sign and seal the letter’s envelope.

What happens if you don’t get a recommendation letter?

Submit an inquiry email that includes a status update, transcript, résumé, and any other parent information. Inform them that you are contacting them to request a letter of academic recommendation.

Do letters of recommendation really matter?

Admissions officers value letters of recommendation because the experiences described by high school counselors and teachers can help them paint a complete picture of who you are and the impact you will have on campus.

Whenever you are asked to write a letter of recommendation, inquire as to what should be included. They should be able to identify essential talents and qualifications for the job or academic program. Some organizations will supply a template for these letters; if none is provided, study samples of letters of recommendation. Utilize these to guide your writing, but adapt your letter to its particular requirements.