A recommendation letter (email, or sometimes nowadays form) is a document that makes a statement of support for a candidate. The writer assesses the qualities, characteristics, and capabilities of the person being recommended.  

Providing a recommendation letter can be beneficial during a job search, and as an employer, you may be asked to write a recommendation letter for someone who worked for you in the past. It is often written directly to the hiring manager, the human resources team or admissions department to emphasize the person’s achievements, skills and how they would be a great fit for the position. 

A letter of recommendation provides valuable information including what kind of employee they are, how well they interacted with others, and whether they were competent in their position.  

Before agreeing to write a letter of recommendation for someone, make sure you are comfortable speaking whole heartedly good things about the job candidate, otherwise, it is best to politely decline writing the letter. 

Here is a structure of three main points to include, with some helpful tips to guide you through the process of writing a letter of recommendation.  

  1. Start with your relationship with the person 

In the first few lines of the letter, introduce yourself - explaining your position and your relationship to the candidate. It is not necessary to go into depth with your history, however this will help give the letter context as to why you are in a good position to recommend this person. Include how long you worked together, whether it was in different departments or not and if you collaborated on a project together.  

  1. Include observations and evaluations of their work 

This is where you evaluate the candidate’s work - highlighting on tangible successes, strengths, and talents that they would apply to the position they are seeking. It is useful to mention any similarities between the candidate’s former position and the one they are currently seeking, describing instances of their competence and success in these areas where possible.  

Note: Ask for a copy of the job listing to tailor the recommendation letter by addressing specific requirements of the applied position.  

       3. Why they are qualified for the position 

Lastly, paint a picture for readers to get a true sense of who the applicant is in real life and how they stand out as a unique employee. Provide specific examples to support statements, while avoiding cliché descriptors and platitudes.  

Before sending the letter of recommendation, be sure to follow any specific requirements such as requested format, font, size, and address. Writing a well-done recommendation letter involves planning, research, and time to revise. It is an important task to be trusted with and a great responsibility to do well and on time. Writing a recommendation letter can be ultimately one of the more rewarding yet humbling experience to play a role in helping someone enter the next chapter of their life.