How To Write A Letter Of Recommendation

If this is the first time you are writing this type of letter, there are certain aspects to the letter-writing process you should know.

How To Write A Letter Of Recommendation

When a previous employee asks you for a letter of recommendation, think carefully before saying yes.

Once you say yes, you must commit to writing one. Remember, it is an important responsibility, and the applicant is relying on you to write a good letter.

You must learn how to write it correctly.

The reason a former employee is asking you for a recommendation means you worked with them at some point.

You may be their former hiring manager or the supervisor of where they volunteer, for instance.

That's right. Bosses are not the only people who receive requests to write reference letters.

Applicants may ask their mentors, coaches, and project-based partners to recommend them too. The people they choose to ask for a reference depends on what they are applying for and relevancy.

He/she can add it to their college admission or internship application forms.

They may need it to improve their chances of landing a full-time position or part-time job. Especially with many potential employers asking applicants to provide one

Whatever its purpose, make sure your letter of recommendation looks professional.

What to Include in a Letter of Recommendation

If this is the first time you are writing this type of letter, there are certain aspects to the letter-writing process you should know.

Letters of recommendation often include positive attributes about the applicant. It can offer reasons why they will be an asset to their next employer.

You also need to include information about their job performance and work habits.

Sharing this knowledge will apprise the interviewer about what the interviewee can offer.

To make sure the information you provide is accurate, ask the applicant for the following:

  • Job description, level of education, and program information (high school, graduate school, or bachelor's degree.)
  • The applicant’s cover letter, resume, or CV.
  • Any extra information to better understand how the applicant will apply their skills.
  • If the applicant cannot provide a job description, ask questions. You want to have a clear idea of how they are the best fit for the job.

With the applicant’s information, you are one step closer to fulfilling their request.

3 Critical Components of a Recommendation Letter

Write a strong recommendation letter by including these three key components.

  1. A paragraph or sentence that explains how you know this person.
  1. The length of time you worked together and your work relationship.
  1. A fair assessment of the individual’s skills and accomplishments (are they a team player? Have a good work ethic? etc.)

Try to use keywords from the job listing. Also, include your contact information for follow-up purposes and if they have any further questions.

Never Do This with a Recommendation Letter

It is okay if you do not know how to write a letter of recommendation letter. You can remedy this with a simple Google search.

Use the search engine to find samples of recommendation letters and use examples as guides.

But there are some things you must never do when writing a letter of reference.

  • Never provide a generic recommendation letter.
  • Never “copy and paste” a recommendation letter.
  • Never ask the prior employee to write their own letter for you to review and sign.
  • Never lie about a worker’s skills, abilities, or qualifications.
  • Never write a lengthy recommendation letter.
  • Never use these salutations, Dear Mr. Williams and Dear Ms. Miller, (unless you are writing a personal reference, do not include the recipient's name)
  • Never ignore formatting, proofreading, and edits.

For it to be an effective letter, tailor it to the person, position, and job responsibilities.

Letter of Recommendation Format

Below is a letter of recommendation template with an example of the format to use. It will help you with the layout and how to organize it.

How Long Should A Recommendation Letter Be?

Many find themselves asking, “how long should a recommendation letter be?” - which is a valid question. Some may even put off writing letters, believing it needs to be lengthy.

A letter of recommendation needs to be more than one or two paragraphs. Any shorter, and it suggests you either do not know the person well enough to fully endorse them.

But, you also do not want the letter to be too long either. Keep the letter concise and focus on a few key points, so avoid writing more than one page.

A Sample of a Recommendation Letter

Below is a letter of recommendation template/sample to get an idea of what it should look like.

Sample Letter:


Your Address

Your Name

Job Title

Your Company

Street Address

City, State, Zip Code

Include the Date

Add a salutation/greeting,

If you are writing a general letter, say "To Whom It May Concern" or something similar.

Paragraph 1 – Introduction

The first paragraph is where you introduce yourself.

Explain the purpose of the letter and your connection to the person you are recommending. Make sure you include how you know them, and for how long.

Paragraph 2 – Details

The second paragraph needs to contain specific information. Show how they qualify for the job and what they can contribute.

Include specific examples attesting to the person’s qualifications whenever possible.

Paragraph 3 – Summary

The third paragraph should be a summary of why you recommend the applicant.

State that you "highly recommend the applicant without reservation, or something similar.

Paragraph 4 – Conclusion

The concluding paragraph of the recommendation letter is where you offer to provide more information if needed.

Add your phone number to this paragraph or in the signature of the letter. Include an email address too.

Letter Closing

To complete the letter, use a formal letter closing, your name, and title. If you are providing a hard copy of the letter, include your signature underneath your typed name.


Signature (for hard copy)

Your Name (printed)

Job Title

If you are unsure what wording to use, turn to a business letter sample for help. Having your letter looking and sounding professional is vital.


A letter of recommendation is more significant than merely another document. It is more persuasive than most think.

If an applicant selects you, be mindful of what you include in your writing. Remember, what you include can influence the minds of potential employers.

It can significantly increase the likelihood that they will hire who you recommend.

Thus, what you write and how well you write it, can alter the course of someone’s career path. If done poorly, you could reduce your mentee or prior employee’s odds of getting the desired job.

Think about the weight of this task the next time you are asked for a letter of recommendation.

About the Author

Mark Andrew

Mark is a freelance content writer specializing in topics such as Internet marketing for small businesses. His goal is to help small businesses owners understand what types of services and products truely bring in more business.

Full Biography