How to Write a Letter of Recommendation that Works

There may come a time when you are asked to provide a letter of recommendation for a friend, co-worker, student, or other individuals. And with the mass layoffs and furloughs caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, that time could very well be right now — especially given that approximately 50 million Americans have filed for unemployment.

Great Recession unemployment numbers aside, letters of recommendation can be requested for a variety of reasons. You can expect to see them come up for internships, college applications, and even volunteer positions, as well for employment. While an interview can say a lot about a person, having a great letter of recommendation on hand helps the applicant highlight reliable strengths about themselves and allows those they have worked with to share positive details that may ultimately win over the interviewing party.

To help you write a great letter of recommendation, we have a few tips and more information below:

What is a letter of recommendation?

As mentioned before, a letter of recommendation is used to add a reliable source of information about a person’s work ethic and performance. For this reason, the person asked to write the letter should have relevant experience and detail to offer. As an example, a casual friend isn’t typically ideal because while they may be able to vouch for your character, they can’t say much about your day-to-day performance at work and what value you added at your former position. A former boss or co-worker, on the other hand, has had direct experience working with you and can vouch for your skills in a particular area. 

When asked to write a letter of recommendation, your first consideration should be whether or not you have the relevant knowledge of the person’s skills. If they’re applying for a university program with intensive studies, for example, you’ll want to be able to highlight positive aspects of their former work that will demonstrate their compatibility with the program. The same goes for any job or volunteer position. The more details you have about what the interviewer is looking for, and the more relevant your experience with the candidate is, the more likely it is that the content within your letter of recommendation will be effective. 

In what situations is a letter of recommendation required or beneficial?

Generally speaking, most applications for educational studies will state in the application process that letters of recommendation are needed. This gives the applicant time ahead of the due date to seek out relevant professors and professionals who can write the letter. In other cases, a letter of recommendation may be requested after an interview. It’s always a good idea to have at least three professional references on hand who can vouch for your character and skill in the area you’re applying toward. References can act much like a letter of recommendation (both speak to your character and the relevance of your past work), but it’s equally important to bear in mind that letters take longer to write and should have more detail provided to ensure their relevance.

When you are asked to write a letter of recommendation, it’s important to have all the details you need from the person making the request. Questions like these can be helpful:

Who is this letter of recommendation for? What are the

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