The economy has seen brighter days, and sadly, nowadays, it is very difficult to find work. There are so many people that cannot find a job, who are looking for financial aid for school, or who simply wish to have their skills appreciated by someone else that it is highly likely that your help will be requested. At some point in your life, you will probably have to write a recommendation letter for someone. Truth be told, it might be a little intimidating to write about somebody, especially when you know that their career might be depending on it. However, writing a recommendation or reference letter is more straightforward than you imagine. Before we discuss the basics of writing the best recommendation letter, let’s take a look at the things it should contain:
- In the first part of the letter you should write about your relationship with the person
- In the second part you must explain how the person helped you in the past, and what his/her skills are
- In the third part you should explain why you are recommending the person for a certain position, internship, scholarship, or whatever it is
Writing a recommendation letter is indeed a great responsibility, so you should treat it with the utmost care because it is often just as important as the statement of intent written by the candidate. Many people do not know this, but a recommendation letter is actually a legal document, so it is crucial not to lie or fudge the truth, because there could be legal repercussions. If you are not sure whether you want to write the letter or not, here is a strong reason. Maybe you will need a recommendation letter one day, so you should try to help others if it is in your power to do so. But who should write a recommendation letter for?
- Before you accept to write a reference letter you should think really hard if the person is someone you know reasonably well. You simply cannot vouch for a student that you haven’t seen attending courses. As a matter of fact, you should know the person in a capacity that gives you the ability to create a meaningful reference (if you’ve worked with him, had him as a valuable student etc..)
- Never write a reference letter if you have nothing positive to write about the person, because you will do more harm than good. If there is no quality to emphasize on, it is advisable to respectfully decline, and tell them to seek a recommendation from someone else.
What Should a Reference Letter Contain?
Recommendation letters are different from one-another and one should consider the type of reference that it is. Here are a few basic tips:
- Make sure you introduce yourself in the first few lines. Don’t share your life story, but at least try to explain your position and professional experience. You should also talk about your relationship with the candidate.
- Use a business letter format: the recipient name and address (if known), followed by “Dear Sir/Madam”, or “To Whom it May Concern”.
- The second paragraph of the letter should contain facts that you know about the candidate. Because we are talking about reference letters for job candidates you should include the candidate’s position within the firm, his leaving salary, the employment period. If you are referencing a student, include the name of the university or high-school in which he studied, his abilities and specialization.
- The third paragraph is dedicated to the candidate’s skills and qualities. A great trick would be to mention that you would love working with the candidate in the future, or that their contributions to the company/school/college were highly valued. It is also advised to emphasize on one exceptional qualities that he has.
- The fourth paragraph is optional, but it could contain further information with concrete examples of times when the individual excelled.
- The ending of the letter should be made on a positive note, in order to encourage further correspondence. You can also include your personal details.
You should never, ever, include mentions of their weaknesses, or anything that could be interpreted as libel. Do not write in an informal manner either, and avoid spelling mistakes. To end, here is an example of recommendation letter that would work.
To whom it may concern,
I wholeheartedly recommend Steven Stevenson as a candidate for employment.
Steven has been a member of *Company Name as a *position from *employment period. At all times I have found him/her to be extremely *insert quality – related to job opening.
Steven has excellent *insert quality skills. He/she is also extremely organized, reliable and computer literate.
He/She would be an incredible asset for your company, and has my highest recommendation. For further questions with regard to his/her background or qualifications, do not hesitate to contact me.