7 Tips for Writing a Letter of Recommendation

I’m receiving all kinds of requests for letters of recommendation these days as my students have just graduated, and I’ve referred colleagues for positions they would be great in. After receiving a request from one of my former students for a “strong” letter of recommendation, repeating the word “strong” in her email request multiple times, I thought it would be great to share a few pointers I use when writing a letter of recommendation.

  1. If you cannot provide a “strong” recommendation of the individual, do not proceed. Let the individual know the reason(s), such as you haven’t observed them interacting with clients, known them long enough, or viewed any creative works they’ve developed in order to recommend them, or any of a number of other reasons that they shouldn’t take personally.
  2. Write a few bullet points in categories of value for the position  in which they show strength in their experience, work ethic, leadership qualities, mentoring capabilities, and other characteristics that bode well. Speak to characteristics like they’re a great team player with an excellent sense of humor.
  3. Work on each bullet point to expand into statements of your personal experience and direct observations of the person exhibiting the qualities you are focusing on.
  4. Put it aside for a day, and then come back to what you’ve written. Read it as if you were receiving the letter for someone you are considering to hire on your team. Rework any areas you think can be stronger, and make sure the flow of the letter has a natural tone as if you are speaking the endorsement.
  5. Sign the letter with the title which will have the most meaning in recommending the individual. For my former students, I write as their Clinical Instructor who has had a close mentoring relationship, citing observed clinical situations in which they exhibited strong communication and clinical skills.
  6. Place your email address and phone number you can be reached at after your signature line, should there be any further questions they will be able to contact you.
  7. If you are writing the recommendation as their past instructor or manager, use the stationary of the school or company your worked together in if you are still with the school or company.
  8. Email the letter as a word document or PDF to the requester so they can save it to their files to easily upload into applications, or print out a hard copy.

Then make sure you send best wishes for their success!

About Candace

Candy Dye is a Nurse Practitioner and teacher that loves everything about health, wellness, looking beautiful, and being with people who enjoy life and love to have fun!

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