How to Write a Letter of Recommendation Effectively

There are numerous aspects to consider when writing a letter of recommendation.  Writing a recommendation letter can feel like a big task. You were probably flattered and excited to help when you received the request, but you might also feel stressed out about how to actually write the letter of recommendation.  Considering the following areas one by one and you should feel less stressed about your recommendation.

First, gauge if you are qualified to write a letter of recommendation for this person. Do you know the requester enough to make a statement on their skills, strengths and weaknesses? Have you been directly involved with them in a professional or academic setting?

If you believe you are qualified to write the letter, take into account the person or position that it is being written for. You tailor the letter of recommendation to the specific request when possible or keep it broad if it’s a general recommendation letter. This is a critical step that guarantees your letter of recommendation is valuable and pertinent. If you don’t know about the job being applied for ask the requestor.  They will typically be happy to give you details on the job and will value your interest.

Structure your recommendation to be clear and succinct. Using a 3-paragraph framework will outline your letter to be easy to read while detailing the relevant content.  The ideas below can help guide the structure for your letter of recommendation:

    Write about your interaction with the requestor: how do you know them? Have you worked with each other and in what capacity?

    Give context on the person applicable work experience and/or cases of their interest in the subject or field to which they are applying.

    Highlight a couple reasons you believe make the applicant ideal for the specific opportunity.

Always complete your letter of recommendation in a prompt fashion. This shows your willingness to contribute on the applicant’s behalf and it can also help to accelerate their application process.

Going through this process can aid you in creating a positive and effective letter of recommendation. Always remember someone has trusted you with a substantial amount of responsibility related to their life.  You should treat recommendation letters with a sense of gravity suitable to the task.