Writing Recommendation Letters

There may come a time when someone asks you to write a recommendation on their behalf. If you’ve never written one before, the task may seem intimidating. Exactly what do you say? When does the recommendation risk becoming fawning? How do you avoid saying something that actually hurts the candidate’s chances? If you find yourself staring at a blank screen, here are some tips for crafting recommendation letters that always ensure the candidate looks good.

Avoid Writing Recommendation Letters for the Wrong Person

Do not feel obligated to write recommendations for people you feel do not deserve them. A former student that did poorly in your statistics class should not get a glowing review for an accountant’s position. You shouldn’t be eager to burden a supervisor with an employee you were ecstatic about getting rid of. Your reputation is at risk when you do this. The best recommendations are sincere, so in all good conscience, decline any request you’re not at ease with.

Gather the Information

Don’t assume you already know everything you need to about the candidate. Offer to review their resume, ask about what kind of position they are looking for, and what skills, education, and talents, or specific projects and background the candidate would like you to focus on. The best recommendation letters are target-specific. Volunteer work, background checks, professional or personal references, they should each contain tailored content.

Writing the Recommendation Letter

Include that you highly recommend the candidate. If you know for what, state the facts. Briefly talk about yourself and your qualifications. Your stature in your profession is an invaluable asset and what makes you a voice of authority. Without giving the recipient some background for why they should listen to you, your recommendation loses value. Write about how you met the candidate and describe the extent of your association, highlight key projects and accomplishments, and your impression of their potential.

Keep the Letter’s Tone Encouraging, But Neutral

You do not need to discuss weaknesses to even out the recommendation, but do not go overboard in the other direction. Quantify the candidate’s credentials with as many facts as you can, not just personal opinion. Don’t say the candidate worked hard, say they worked hard managing your finances, allowing you to focus on other aspects of the business.

Whether it’s advice on preparing recommendation letters or taking advantage of great tools like Resume Builder, LiveCareer has all steps in the job seeking process covered.


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