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Letter Of Recommendation: What Is It?

A letter of recommendation is a formal letter often used to describe qualities, strengths, and characteristics of another person. A letter like this may be used for employment purposes, promotions, or educational applications. They could also be used for scholarship or grant purposes.

Sometimes a letter of recommendation may be called a reference letter. The difference is that a letter of recommendation is usually specifically requested by a party. Usually, this type of letter will be addressed to a specific person or organization.

A prospective employer or higher education organization may request a letter of recommendation to learn more about an applicant. A prospective student or employee may also request a letter of recommendation before they start applying, so that they will be able to provide these entities with more information right away.

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What Makes a Good Recommendation Letter?

what makes a good recommendation letter For many people, obtaining the perfect recommendation letter from your one of your references causes a lot of stress during the already stressful process of finding a job. There are so many different considerations to take into account. Which of your references would write the best letter of recommendation? More importantly, which one of your references relates most closely to the position you’re currently applying for? And how do you balance those requirements to make sure the letter of recommendation(s) you provide work to help you get the job you want? Fortunately, there are resources available to help you and your referral create a successful recommendation letter template.

When determining which referral you will ask to write your letter of recommendation, there are several factors to take into consideration. Does your referral have a strong and reliable background themselves? If they do, it will make their recommendation letter template hold more weight. In other words, a recommendation letter written by your college friend Mitch, who you happened to work with for two years, will hold far less weight than your manager at that job who has twenty five years experience under his belt.

You should also consider the profession that you’re looking to get into or move up in. If you’re in the process of obtaining a position as a paralegal, you may want to ask one of your professors within program to write you a letter or recommendation, rather than the manager of the retail store you worked at during your years of study. Remember – if your referrals are willing to write you're a sample letter of recommendation, it can only be beneficial to provide more than one.        

Before you ask for a letter of recommendation to be written, it’s a good idea to review some a recommendation letter template or sample recommendation letter forms online. This will give you a good idea of what works – and what doesn’t.  Here are a few things that make a recommendation letter effective.

1. Specific information on how the writer knows the applicant, and how that applies to their professional life.

2. Include specific information that applies to the applicant.

3. List specific, positive things the applicant has done.

4. Summarize why the applicant would be a strong candidate and good choice for the position.

If you find a recommendation letter template that you really like, you might offer it to your referral to make their job easier. Simply let them know that you appreciate the time and effort it takes, and you found a template if they’d like to use it. Remember, if your referral doesn’t know you well or have a good grasp of your professional abilities , the referral letter could actually hurt your chances of getting the job. Make sure you put a lot of thought into who will write the letter that fits your current aspirations.