What is a Letter of Recommendation?
A letter of recommendation is a formal business letter to support an applicant’s fitness for a specific role. Generally sent to hiring managers, recommendation letters briefly explain your relationship to the applicant and the skills, personal attributes and academic qualifications they possess related to the job they are seeking.
Get started with this letter of recommendation template:
Letter of recommendation template
[City, State ZIP Code]
Dear [Recipient’s Name],
I’d like to highly recommend [candidate’s full name] for [reason of recommendation, e.g., job opening, academic program, scholarship]. We worked closely at [workplace, organization, school or social setting], and I can attest to [his/her/their] exceptional [skills/qualities/achievements].
Throughout our working relationship, [candidate’s name] stands for these accomplishments:
[Include bullet point examples and details about the candidate’s performance, achievements and notable contributions.]
[Highlight their strengths and unique qualities.]
[If applicable, add information about the candidate’s character and interpersonal skills.]
I’m confident that [candidate’s full name] will make valuable contributions to the [company/organization/program], and I strongly recommend [him/her/them]. If you have any questions or want additional information, please contact me at [email and phone number].
Letter of recommendation format tips
- Add your professional name, job title, phone number and email.
- Add the date you posted, emailed, or hand-delivered your letter.
- Add the recipient’s name, title and employment mailing address.
- Add a formal salutation like “Hello,” “Dear,” or “To whom it may concern.”
- Open your letter by introducing yourself, your relationship to the recommendation, and one or two key skills related to the position.
Body of Letter
- Keep up the momentum with evidence. Add evidence and data to illustrate your recommendation’s potential.
- Invite the reader to contact you for additional information.
- Professionally close your letter with a salutation like “Best regards,” “Thanks,” or “Sincerely,” followed by a typed signature.
How to Write a Letter of Recommendation
If asked to write a letter of recommendation, follow these writing tips.
Use anecdotes and data: A good letter of recommendation helps support or expand on application-supplied information. Use data from the work history of the person you recommend to help hiring managers understand their qualifications.
Research: We strongly recommend that you research and tailor your letter of recommendation to the employer.
Be specific: Avoid vague generalizations like “good with people.” Instead, share a specific story about how your recommendation selected a team and led them through a project timeline. This is a classic show, don’t tell approach.
Keep a positive tone: Hiring managers are looking for a competent candidate and a good culture fit. Your letter of recommendation should reflect your genuine respect and enthusiasm for the candidate. Your genuine respect for your colleague can positively influence hiring decisions.
Be brief: Most hiring managers and employers sort through hundreds of applications. Respect their time by keeping your letter to one page or less.
Tailor Your Letter of Recommendation
Not all working relationships are the same. A letter of recommendation for a student or colleague will highlight different strengths. Use these general guidelines to help you prioritize unique skills and accomplishments based on your working relationships.
- For professionals: Work colleagues might leverage their professional relationship with you to boost their job search. Highlight joint projects or exceptional interpersonal skills to recommend them. Be honest — don’t risk your reputation by exaggerating another person’s abilities. Let their genuine experience and your knowledge of their potential speak for themselves.
- For friends and family: You can write a genuine recommendation for family and friends, even if you never worked together before. Highlight projects or family events that require transferable skills like planning, organization and interpersonal collaboration. For example, you can describe the organization of a family reunion when your recommendation managed the budget, venue, food and travel bookings.
- For former classmates or teachers: If an old classmate or teacher reaches out for a letter of recommendation, focus on hard and technical skills related to their field or industry. You can highlight a professor’s leadership skills for a management position or a classmate’s critical thinking and writing skills for an analytical role.
8 Letter of Recommendation Examples
These example letters of recommendation can help you personalize your recommendation letter.
Professional letter of recommendation
Dear Mr. Dickinson,
I’m writing to recommend Owen Blanchard enthusiastically for your innovative pediatrics department. I had the privilege of working closely with him at the NICU department at Stanford Medical Center, where he demonstrated consistent patient care and dedication. Notable accomplishments include:
Adopted a warm, playful bedside manner to ensure patient comfort while conducting complete medical examinations, periodic preventive medical evaluations, and evaluating emotional state on an acute care basis.
Coordinated, collaborated and communicated with internal and external childcare and social service professionals responsible for the care of underinsured patients.
Partnered with onsite specialists to help connect patient families to subsidized housing in the event of extending hospital stays.
Having worked with Dr. Blanchard for the past three years, I witnessed how he applied the critical thinking and improvisational skills they developed working for Doctors Without Borders to our workplace. Dr. Blanchard has a deep understanding of neonatal and pediatric health care and a warm presence and commitment to patient well-being and family support.
As much as it would grieve me to lose Dr. Blanchard as a colleague, I recognize this is an incredible opportunity for him. He would be a tremendous asset to your Pediatrics department, staff and patients. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 555-555-555 with any questions.
Letter of recommendation for student
Jan. 1, 2024
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
500 5th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101
Dear Ms. Hess,
I am writing to enthusiastically recommend Samuel Lopez for the junior accounting position at The Gates Foundation. As his former accounting professor at UC Merced, I had the privilege of witnessing his exceptional academic and professional achievements, including:
Valedictorian of the accounting department.
Graduated top 10% of his graduating student class.
Successfully applied for competitive internships at Wells Fargo and Fidelity.
Volunteered at the university’s free financial advice center despite being a full-time student and working a part-time sales job.
Lopez showcased remarkable competence and adaptability during his internship at Wells Fargo and Fidelity Investments. He successfully navigated complex financial tasks, displaying a keen understanding of industry practices and a commitment to precision.
What sets Lopez apart is his deep-seated passion for leaving a meaningful impact on global health. He aspires to leverage his accounting skills to contribute to developing affordable health and vaccine programs in developing nations, aligning perfectly with The Gates Foundation’s mission.
Lopez will bring the same dedication, expertise, and passion to his role at The Gates Foundation. He possesses a rare combination of academic excellence, professional acumen, and a genuine commitment to humanitarian causes. Contact me at email@example.com or 555-555-5555 with any questions.
Letter of recommendation for a scholarship
Bishop Alemany High School
Jan. 1, 2024
The College Board — BigFuture Scholarships
250 Vesey Street
New York, NY 10001
Dear Members of the Scholarship Committee,
I wholeheartedly recommend Libby Woodard for the BigFuture Scholarship. As the lead counselor at Bishop Alemany High School, I worked with her for the past three years.
Woodard consistently demonstrates exceptional academic abilities and a genuine passion for learning. Not only does Woodard maintain an impressive GPA, but she also excels in engineering-related topics such as calculus, physics and trigonometry.
Beyond her academic achievements, Woodard is actively involved in the community Key Club, Academic Decathlon, Robotics Club and Debate Club. She shows outstanding leadership qualities, contributing positively to the school community as a frequent organizing volunteer for school assemblies and after-school tutoring programs.
Libby Woodard deserves the scholarship and will flourish under these academic opportunities if given the chance. If you have further questions or require additional information, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 555-555-5555, ext 55.
Bishop Alemany High School
Letter of recommendation for a job
Jan. 1, 2024
123 N Elm Street
Austin, TX 73301
Dear Mr. Garcia,
I am pleased to write this letter of recommendation for my former colleague, Jesse Harrison, who is applying for a position at CosmicLink. While working together at Parameter, I witnessed his exceptional skills, dedication and contributions firsthand.
I worked closely with Harrison for three years at Parameter, a digital streaming service, where he served as lead UX designer. He consistently impressed me with his ability to streamline user experience while minimizing loading times and data usage.
Redesign the video player that minimized the number of dropdown menus and streamlined the viewing experience, increasing the number of daily users by 225%.
Identified an outdated code that increased loading time and suggested a fix, improving streaming speeds and customer satisfaction.
I do not doubt that Jesse Harrison will bring the same commitment, professionalism, and expertise to CosmicLink as he did at Parameter. I wholeheartedly recommend him for the position and believe he will be a valuable asset to your team.
If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact me at email@example.com or 555-555-5555.
Immigration letter of recommendation
City of El Cerrito
Jan. 6, 2024
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
630 Sansome Street
San Francisco, CA 94111
Dear Ms. Little,
I am writing this letter to provide a strong recommendation for Keenan Haines, who is currently seeking immigration to the United States. I have had the pleasure of knowing him personally and professionally, and I am confident that he would be a valuable addition to our community.
Haines is an individual of exceptional character and integrity. He is highly skilled in civil engineering, and his previous contributions to social housing increased housing per mile while improving city walkability stores and minimizing transit times.
In addition to his professional qualifications, Haines is deeply passionate about community development and contributions. He has demonstrated his commitment to civil service, reflecting his dedication to making a positive impact.
Keenan Haines would be a valuable and law-abiding resident in the United States. If you require further information or have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 555-555-5555.
Letter of recommendation for teacher
Jan. 1, 2024
St. Louis School District
801 N. 11th Street
St. Louis, MO 63101
Dear Mr. Horton,
I am pleased to write this letter of recommendation for Erin Rosario, who is seeking the position of Assistant Superintendent within your school district. She was my teacher in trigonometry and pre-calculus for over two years. Without her mentorship, guidance and encouragement, I would not have applied for scholarships and attended university.
As an economics teacher at Lindbergh High School, Mrs. Rosario consistently demonstrated a passion for education and a commitment to fostering a positive and engaging learning environment. She was highly influential in the classroom, inspiring students and colleagues with her innovative teaching methods and ability to adapt to diverse learning needs.
Though this promotion would be a genuine loss to the current student body, her commitment to education and student mentorship will benefit the school district. If you have any questions or require additional information, please contact me at email@example.com or 555-555-5555.
Personal letter of recommendation
El Paso — Parks and Recreation
Jan. 1, 2024
Assistant City Manager
City of Corpus Christi
201 Leopard St,
Corpus Christi, TX 78401
Dear Ms. Patterson,
I am writing to enthusiastically recommend my childhood friend, Ella Adkins, for the civil engineering internship with your city civil planning department. Having known her for many years, I can attest to her exceptional character, work ethic, and passion for civil engineering.
I have had the pleasure of knowing Ms. Adkins since childhood and have witnessed her growth into a dedicated and capable individual. She possesses qualities that make her an ideal candidate for an internship within our hometown.
In her academic pursuits, Ms. Adkins excelled in landscaping and affordable housing projects, demonstrating a solid understanding of the principles and practices within the field. She also actively participates in volunteer civil design projects to undo the legacy of redlining and racially prejudiced design practices.
Ms. Adkins will bring enthusiasm, dedication, and a fresh perspective to your civil engineering team. Her passion for our hometown and commitment to contributing to its development make her an excellent fit for the internship position. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 555-555-5555 with any questions.
Letter of Recommendation FAQ
What strengths should be included in a letter of recommendation?
A strong letter of recommendation should highlight the individual's relevant skills, achievements and character traits. Focus on strengths like:
- Exceptional work ethic
- Critical thinking skills
- Analytic problem-solving abilities
- Effective communication
- Leadership qualities
- Specific accomplishments or contributions.
Your letter of recommendation should provide concrete examples that showcase the candidate's suitability for the intended role or opportunity.
What are the details that should be included in a letter of recommendation?
Your letter of recommendation needs to include the following information to sway a decision positively.
- Name of your recommendation.
- Describe how or why you know them.
- Summarize why you’re recommending them.
- Cite accomplishments related to your previous working relationship and the role's requirements.
- Evidence-backed descriptions of their accomplishments.
- Conclusion with your contact information and sincere invitation to reconnect with questions.
What should not be included in a letter of recommendation?
A letter of recommendation should avoid personal and private information or irrelevant anecdotes.
- Don’t share confidential details like medical history or sensitive personal matters.
- Avoid exaggerated or false claims.
- Avoid negative comments and focus on constructive feedback.
- Keep a professional tone and focus on job-relevant examples.
How long should a letter of recommendation be?
Your cover letter should be shorter than one page. Speed and convenience are of the essence, so keep your letter to three or four short, detailed paragraphs.
How to say no to a request for a letter of recommendation?
There are several reasons to refuse a recommendation request:
- You’re unfamiliar with the candidate.
- You don’t think they’d be a strong fit for the role.
- You don’t believe the company would align with their goals.
If any of these situations apply to you, try the following approach:
- Express appreciation for the request — asking for a recommendation is humbling.
- Explain that your current responsibilities limit your ability to research and write a persuasive, detailed letter of recommendation.
- Offer regret and suggest alternative people to write an accurate recommendation.