What is a Recommendation Letter?

What is a Recommendation Letter?

Knowing what is a recommendation letter can be very beneficial when you are required to write one. A recommendation letter is an official communication in a form of a written statement supporting a candidate for consideration. Institutions of higher learning always ask students to submit recommendation letters from people who know them well when seeking admission. You will also require a recommendation letter when applying for a job.

For you to write an excellent recommendation letter, you must understand the strengths and weaknesses of the candidate in need of the letter. In cases where you have limited information, there is no harm in having a candid discussion with the candidate. This ensures that you give information that the recipient can easily verify with the candidate. For more details, click here.

Now that you know what is a Recommendation Letter and how do you write one?

If you are a boss, here is what to consider when writing a recommendation letter:

  • Evaluate the candidate: A selection committee of a learning institution or potential employer will need a recommendation letter to aid in decision-making about a candidate seeking a position. Thus, a recommendation letter should provide enough evidence to reach a conclusion. When writing this letter or requesting, ensure that it offers a detailed evaluation.
  • Talk about weaknesses of the Candidate: To understand what is a recommendation letter, you may consider the candidate’s weakness. This is important in explaining cases such as family illness or financial challenges, which could affect the candidate’s output. However, consultation is vital to include accurate and documented evidence.
  • Explain how you relate with the candidate: When writing a recommendation letter, bring out your relationship with the candidate in question. As a referee, state the candidate’s position, performance, and relationship with the staff of the organization or the university administration. Also, include how long you have known the applicant.

Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Recommendation Letter

Because of the crucial role a recommendation letter plays, it is paramount to avoid petty mistakes, which may cost you the chance. The following are blunder to avoid when answering what is a recommendation letter.

  • Giving wrong information: Colluding with your referees to get positive recommendation letters may not always work in your favor. Besides being unethical practice, incorrect information about a candidate always exposes his or her weakness during interview with the selection panel.
  • Ambushing your boss: Writing a good recommendation letter requires enough time to conduct research about the candidate. When requesting for this letter, give adequate time to your former employer or previous college to compile supporting evidence about you. If possible, meet your referees or call them and discuss about the letter.
  • Using junior referees: Employers or universities will request for recommendation letters from your referees. Do not ask a junior staff to pen your recommendation. A high-ranking referee makes your recommendation letter authentic, as the selection panel is likely to trust him or her.

What is the format of a Recommendation Letter?

If you are grappling with a recommendation letter, remember that it takes the format of an official letter. Its format should have addresses, introduction, body and conclusion.

Referee’s Contacts: A recommendation letter will bear your referee’s contacts. These include their full names, rank, postal address, email, and telephone numbers. With these details, the recipient can get back for clarification before the panel sits to make decisions about applicants for a particular position.

Introduction: This section explains how you know the person whom you are recommending. In others words, you must know what is a recommendation letter before you embark on writing the letter. Reference your job titles and your interaction with the person.

Example of an introduction

“This is to confirm that the above named has been an employee in this company for …”

Do not fail to mention if you supervised the candidate while working under you. Include the period you have known the individual.

Recommendation letter body: Capture the competences, knowledge and any other asset that the candidate possesses. Start with his or her areas of strength.

Besides highlighting the person’s assets, give references to back your assertions to make them credible and convincing. For example, cite some of the projects the person has played a role in their completion. To crown this, state the value the person added to your organization during their stay.

How to End a Recommendation Letter

When writing a recommendation letter, remember that, every part of the letter is important. In some strict and competitive cases, a candidate could lose a chance because their referees omitted crucial information or included an irresponsible statement. From the introduction to the ending, keep in mind the purpose of the letter. The recommendation letter could be the only barrier between the person and the position.

Based on the applicant’s strengths and value, it can be very important to affirm your willingness to hire him or her given another chance. This means, as a referee, you still see potential in the person and you will miss their services.

Lastly, show your belief that considering the candidate for the position would be an excellent decision in moving the organization forward as he or she will be an asset at all times.

Example of an ending phrase:

“I have no reservations in recommending John Smith for the position.”

Now that you know what Is a Recommendation Letter why do you Need It?

Everyone needs to know the meaning of a recommendation letter because you will need it when applying for further studies or applying for a job. Even though you may give it less attention as compared to other academic papers, a recommendation letter could be the key to your next step in life.

Depending on your course and level of study, your professor may ask you to write a recommendation letter. For example, if you are studying human resource, understanding ‘what is a recommendation letter’ is important, as it will prepare you for your future tasks.

To master how to write recommendation letters, get communication books or assistance from experts. You may also consider visiting the internet to have an idea of how to develop a professional recommendation letter by viewing sample letters.

Keys to writing a good Recommendation Letter

To write an excellent recommendation letter, you need to paint a clear image of the candidate. Here is what to consider:

Have enough information: Besides discussing with the candidate, get his or her curriculum vitae to extract details, including professional experience and educational background. Such reference documents allow you to include accurate information that is verifiable by the selection panel during vetting.

Make it presentable. Knowing the meaning of a recommendation letter alone is not enough to overcome the challenge of writing. Like any official letter, format recommendation letters to make them presentable. The length may vary. However, a recommendation letter may have specific requirements, stating the number of pages. Where there is no limit, make it one or two pages.

Fine-tune your letter: Format the letter to ensure that it has standard margins. Stick to font 12, as it is widely acceptable in official communication. Avoid calligraphic styles. Consider using Times New Romans, which is clear and easy to read.

Use flawless language: Use official language when writing a recommendation letter. Since it carries the image of the writer and the candidate seeking a chance, it should be free from substandard language. Make it as flawless as possible, eliminating possible mistakes including syntax and typos errors.

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Final Thoughts When Writing a Recommendation Letter

Understanding ‘what is a recommendation letter’ is not enough in catching the attention of your lecturer or that potential employer seeking more information about you. Have in mind the following tips:

Viewing the letter: While you may have the urge to see your recommendation letter, the selection panel may not trust you completely. Thus, waive your right to read the letter and deliver it sealed. Depending on the instructions, allow your referee to deliver the recommendation letter using the appropriate channel like email or postal services.

Beat the deadline. Ensure that your referee knows the deadline of the recommendation letter. Failure to submit your letter timely could cost you. Some selection teams use the inability to keep time as an elimination basis especially when the position is highly competitive.

Confirm delivery. Do a follow-up with your references and confirm if they delivered the letters and received receipt acknowledgment. Remind them to be alert and respond to further communication, which could be in form of clarification from the panel.

Acknowledge your referee. Remember to thank your referees even before you get the response. Nurturing good relationships with your references makes it easy for you to get positive recommendation letters that increase your chances of getting the position you may be applying.

Even if you now know what is a recommendation letter and know how to write one remember that you have an option to decline endorsing someone if you cannot write a letter that strongly approves the candidate. Allow the applicant to consider an alternative referee.

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