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What Should a Letter of Recommendation Contain?

A Letter of Recommendation is a Special type of letter that provides a well-written brief reference and recommendation for the inclusion of the applicant. If you write a LOR for someone else, that means you are essentially “vouching” for that person by explaining that you believe in him or her in some way. These are generally the students’ things that are required while applying to undergraduate and graduate schools and scholarship or fellowship programs, etc. Some people belonging to the workforce who are applying for new jobs also require a Letter of Recommendation.

  • The students who are applying for business school or an MBA program typically need to submit two to three LORs to explain why they are a good candidate for the particular business school.
  • If you are applying for any scholarship programs, then you need to submit a Letter of recommendation in support of your scholarship application.
  • In this competitive era, if you find any recommendation, it will make the task of job searching a bit easier. A job seeker may also submit a written professional reference or letter of recommendation explaining his/her worth. It also supports the other transcripts submitted by the applicant focusing on the professional qualifications.

Components of a Recommendation Letter:

A good Letter of recommendation should include the following three key components:

  • A paragraph or sentence that explains how you know this person and the duration of your relationship with them
  • An evaluation of the person and their skills/accomplishments. You can add some specific examples that illustrate the strengths and qualifications of the applicant. Remember one thing, the examples should be brief but detailed, just don’t drag it.
  • A summary that explains why you would recommend this person and to what degree you would recommend them.

Points to Note Before You Start Writing a Letter of Recommendation:

Writing a Letter of recommendation is a thing of responsibility and should be taken very seriously.

  • Before you start framing for your LOR, just make sure that you have a clear understanding of what the letter is going to carry, for what purpose it is going to be used, and who is your target reader. Keeping these three things in mind will make it easier for you to write a perfect Letter of recommendation.
  • Before you start writing your LOR, you need to know what kind of information is being expected by the reader.
  • You can also offer to sign a letter that has been drafted by the person who is requesting the reference. This is the most common practice and often works well for both parties.

What to Include in a Good Letter of Recommendation?

The content of your Letter of recommendation must fulfill the needs of the person who is requesting the letter. Some common topics are typically addressed in a good letter of recommendation, such as;

  • Potential (such as leadership potential)
  • Skills/Abilities/Strengths
  • Dependability
  • Consistency
  • Persistence
  • Motivation
  • Character
  • Contributions (to class or community)
  • Accomplishments
  • Relationship with the Applicant
  • Comparative Performance

Format of your Letter of Recommendation:

There are thousands of templates showing the format of a typical letter of recommendation, with details on what to include in each paragraph of your letter. So we recommend the following format for a good Letter of recommendation.

  • Writer Name and Address
  • Applicant Name
  • Job Title
  • Company
  • Street Address
  • City, State Zip Code
  • Date
  • Salutation

Paragraph 1 – Introduction

The first paragraph of the letter of recommendation explains the purpose of the letter, as well as your relationship with the person you are recommending. It also contains brief information on how you get to know them, and for how long.

Paragraph 2 – Details

The second paragraph of the recommendation letter will include some specific information about the person you are writing for like why they are qualified, what they can contribute towards the organization, etc. It will be better if you add some specific examples attesting to the person’s qualifications whenever possible.

Paragraph 3 – Summary

This paragraph will portray a summary of reasons, why you are recommending the person stating that you “highly recommend” the person or that you “recommend without reservation”. Just highlight the skills and extraordinary qualities of the person you are recommending.

Paragraph 4 – Conclusion

The concluding paragraph of the Letter of recommendation should be a polite goodbye section convincing them if they accept your recommendation it will be fruitful for the organization. It must contain an offer to provide more information. You can also add your phone number within this paragraph or you can mention your email id in the return address section or you can give the signature of the letter.

Paragraph 5 – Letter Closing

This paragraph comes at the bottom of your Letter of Recommendation like a closing salutation. So just finish up your letter with a formal letter closing and your name and title. If you are going to mail the soft copy of the letter, then just include your signature underneath your typed name after getting the printout.

Signature (for hard copy letter)
Writer Name
Job Title

NOTE: Don’t just copy the content from another Letter of recommendation. The letter that you need to submit must be fresh and original. However, it is better to look at a few samples of LOR as it is a way to get inspiration for the letter that you are writing. A sample letter of recommendation can help you get a better idea about the components of a typical LOR and the things that typical recommenders focus on when writing a perfect letter of recommendation for a job seeker, college applicant, or graduate school candidate.

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