How To Write A Letter Of Support – If someone—a current or former student, colleague, intern, employee, or mentee—asks you to write them a letter of recommendation, take a moment to be proud of yourself. You have influenced them and they trust you enough to ask you to help them move forward in their career, education or otherwise.
After patting yourself on the back, get down to writing the kind of recommendation letter that will make them stand out as the ideal candidate for the position they’re seeking. That’s the key to writing an effective letter of recommendation: It’s not enough to say they’re a great person; you must demonstrate that they would be an asset to the company, school or program they are applying for.
How To Write A Letter Of Support
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A letter of recommendation is a testimonial about an individual that recommends them for a specific role, grant, or admission to a program. Although the goal is to present the subject of the letter in the best possible light, you must present the information in a matter-of-fact manner.
There are several different common reasons why an individual may request a letter of recommendation. The goal is the same for any letter of recommendation: to present the candidate as an ideal candidate for the position or program they are seeking. But the right topics to cover in your letter vary between different types.
If you’ve been asked to write a letter of recommendation for a student, your letter should talk specifically about their academic performance as well as character traits that make them a strong candidate for a place in the program or grant they’re applying for. There may be different application scenarios in which a student may request a letter of recommendation:
Whenever possible, tailor your letter of recommendation to the specific institution or program to which the student is seeking admission.
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Professional letters of recommendation are another fairly common type of letter of recommendation. Many candidates ask former employers and mentors to help them with their job search by referring them to positions.
Here’s the key difference between an academic letter of recommendation and a professional letter: In a professional letter of recommendation, you should focus almost exclusively on the candidate’s professional performance and suitability for the specific role they are seeking.
Another type of recommendation letter is for house rentals. Landlords often ask potential tenants for referrals from previous landlords about their experiences with tenants. If you are asked to write this type of recommendation letter, be mindful of the new landlord’s concerns and highlight experiences that have made your relationship with the tenant positive, such as their promptness in paying rent and the care they have taken with the property.
Your letter of recommendation should be no longer than one page. Keep it about the same length as your cover letter: a few tight, focused paragraphs that get your point across without unnecessary fluff.
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In terms of tone, the letter of recommendation should be professional. Write it in the same tone as you would write an email to a professional contact or a letter of reference. It should not be in the same formal tone that you would use in academic writing, but it should also not assume familiarity with the addressee or read like an ordinary letter. Using the wrong tone in your recommendation letter can reflect poorly on the person you’re recommending, so make sure your tone is right.
In the first line of your letter, greet the addressee directly. Don’t try to get creative here; simple “Dear Mr./Ms./Ms./Dr. ____” is the best choice. If you do not know the recipient’s name, start your letter with “To whom it may concern”.
On the next line, clearly state the candidate’s name and the position for which you are recommending him. You can also introduce yourself in this section. Here are some examples of effective opening lines:
“I am writing to recommend [name and surname of candidate] for admission to [name of university]. I have had the pleasure of teaching [Applicant] for the past three years at [name of high school].”
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“It is my pleasure to recommend [candidate’s name and surname] for the position of Copywriter at [Agency Name]. [Candidate] and I have worked together at [Company] for the past six years.’
In this section, clearly state the attributes that make the candidate an ideal choice for the position they are seeking. Depending on the type of recommendation you make, it can be a combination of personality traits and skills, or it can be strictly focused on the candidate’s abilities and accomplishments.
Elaborate on the qualities you discussed in your overview with personal stories that highlight the candidate’s qualities and skills. Be as specific as possible here – if there was a specific project the candidate took the lead on, or there are statistics you can share about their work, include them here.
Finish your letter with a statement reiterating your recommendation. This statement may include personal testimony, such as the following example:
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“Having rented to [Candidate] for the past two years, I can confidently recommend her as a responsible and conscientious tenant.”
Like a professional email signature, your letter of recommendation should include more than just your name. Although you probably mentioned your relationship to the candidate in your letter, include your professional title under your name.
The recipient of the letter may want to contact you and discuss the candidate further, so make it easy for them to contact you by including your contact information in their signature. A phone number and email address are usually the best options to include along with business hours.
Maybe the candidate saved a family of lambs from a burning barn. That’s heroic and adorable, but unless they’re applying for a job at the local fire department, it’s probably irrelevant to your letter.
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Just like your cover letter, your letter of recommendation should be brief. It should highlight the key reasons why the candidate is the ideal choice for the position they are seeking, and any details you choose to include should support those reasons. Discussing a candidate’s character can be helpful, but tie it to their suitability for the role they’re seeking – if they’re applying to nursing school, an important detail to include is a discussion of their commitment to ethics. If the application is for a grant to carry out archaeological research, be sure to mention the research projects they have conducted while working with you.
The more specific facts you have about the candidate’s work, the more persuasive your letter of recommendation will be. For example, if you’re writing a letter to a colleague who’s looking for a position in digital marketing, include specific conversion rates they’ve achieved while working with you. Likewise, if you are recommending a high school student for college, be sure to include anecdotes in your letter about their performance on specific assignments and/or extracurricular activities.
As we mentioned above, the right tone for a letter of recommendation is professional yet approachable. Your relationship with and respect for the candidate should be evident in the tone of your writing.
You may find yourself unable to write an honest and effective letter of recommendation for someone who asks for it. This may be because you simply do not know the person or their work well enough, or you may find their work unsatisfactory or unsatisfying.
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In either case, the professional way to decline a request is to simply tell them that you’re not familiar enough with their work to discuss it effectively, or that you don’t believe you’d be the best person to write their letter of recommendation. . Depending on the situation, you can direct them to another person in your organization who is more familiar with their work and therefore able to write an effective letter of recommendation. If that’s not possible, just let them know you can’t write them a letter of recommendation and leave it at that. This is not the time to belittle their work or tell them why you weren’t impressed.
“Luis was a great student. He is very smart and hardworking, and because of these qualities, I know he will succeed at Rutgers University.”
“When he took my Chem I and Chem II classes, Luis consistently gave 100 percent to his assignments. He demonstrated his innate intellect and dedication to school work with his thoughtful and often creative responses to critical thinking questions and assignments. With his passion, determination and ability to handle rigorous coursework, I know he will succeed at Rutgers University.”
In the second example, the letter writer talks about specific courses Luis took and how hard he worked in those courses. There are many great students out there (and they’re applying for the same limited number of university places), so it’s important that your letter communicates exactly what makes the candidate an ideal choice.
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