Tips on Writing Letter of Recommendation
10 Tips for Recommenders to create an excellent letter
- Review a copy of the applicant's personal statement or application
essays so that your letter of recommendation can dovetail with--not
conflict with or duplicate--the rest of the application.
- Ask the applicant to supply you with additional information like a
- Describe your qualifications for comparing the applicant to other
I have been teaching for twenty years and have advised
approximately 450 students on independent research projects over the
last five years.
I have personally supervised ten interns every summer for the
last five years plus worked with over two hundred college graduates
in my capacity as trainer for Big Bank Corp.
- Discuss how well you know the applicant.
I was able to get to know Mr. Doe because he made it a point
to attend two of my sections every week when only one was required.
Ms. Smith reported directly to me for two years prior to her
well-deserved promotion to the position of Senior in our Big Six
- Choose two to three qualities that you observed in the applicant.
Jane has a rare blend of top writing and interpersonal
The combination of tenacity, analytical abilities, and good
communications skills found in Mr. Doe is truly unique.
- In discussing those qualities, support your statements with
specific instances in which he or she demonstrated those attributes.
Be as concrete and detailed as possible.
He is the only student I ever had who came to all my office
hours as part of a relentless, and ultimately successful, drive to
master financial theory. He was one of just ten percent in the class
to receive an A.
Because of Jane's writing skills, I didn't hesitate to ask
her to write a report which was used by our PAC as the basis for a
major policy statement. Congressman X eventually used the statement,
based on Jane's sophisticated 20-page analysis of Middle East
politics, in lobbying for increased funding.
- Try to quantify the student's strengths or rank him or her vis a
vis other applicants that you have observed.
He was in the top 10% of his class.
She has the best analytical skills of any person her age that
I have ever supervised.
- Avoid generalities and platitudes.
- Include some mild criticism, typically the flip-side of a
The only fault I have encountered in him is his retiring
nature. His modesty sometimes hides a young man of remarkable
strength and broad interests.
Occasionally, her fortitude and persistence can turn into
stubbornness, but usually her good nature and level-headedness
- Discuss the applicant's potential in his or her chosen field.
I enthusiastically recommend Mr. Doe to your business school.
This well-rounded student will be a fine businessperson.
With her exceptional leadership, writing, and quantitative
skills, Ms. Smith will be an outstanding strategic consultant and a
credit to the business school she attends.
More: How to Write Powerful
Letter of Recommendation