Writing a Letter of Recommendation

Writing a letter of recommendation

The Letter of Recommendation.  When you are asked to recommend a friend or a colleague for a job, you have to keep in mind two things – first, the reader – as always – and second, your friend or colleague.

What will be the goals of each individual? 

When you understand the goals, you will have a better chance to help each one achieve those goals.

You can hope that those who ask you for a recommendation have done so because they believe that you have a positive impression of their work. 

  • If that is not the case, you might try to avoid having to write the letter.  You will have to be tactful, of course.  
  • If you feel that someone is not appropriate for your recommendation, indicate some other means by which the individual can achieve his or her goal.

What are the goals of the reader of this letter?

If the recommendation is for employment, the reader will want to know all the strengths and skills of the prospective employee, and whether that individual would “fit in” with those currently employed.  Businesses work well when there is a cohesive team environment.

So, what can you say about your friend or colleague that will appeal to the reader?

  • You can use the standards of “reliability” and “responsibility.”  Describing your friend as positive, friendly, helpful will also be appropriate. 
  • Another excellent adjective is “ethical” – always willing to do the right thing.   
  • Your friend may be willing to learn, and willing and conscientious to do the best job possible.
  • Perhaps your friend is a quick study – someone who makes a point of learning something quickly and accurately. 

All of these characteristics will be important and valuable to the reader of your letter of recommendation (or prospective employer).

  • Indicate how long you’ve known the individual. 
  • Always write the truth. 



What are the goals of the individual you are recommending?

The individual will want to have an introduction, perhaps, to a new community and a new job.  With the appropriate words, you may be able to help your friend achieve that goal.

The Letter of Recommendation

The opening short paragraph

With the letter of recommendation, as with all letters,

  • Make sure that the opening is short and tells the purpose of the letter. 
  • Then provide a short goodwill comment that leads into the main body.

Please allow me to recommend my friend, Tom, for the position of …


My colleague, Tom Jones, is interested in joining your firm as …  He has my hearty recommendation for this position.

The middle of the letter will provide the details.

  • Tell how you know the individual, and how long
  • List the characteristics (as noted earlier) that cause you to be happy to make this recommendation. 
  • Keep the sentences and paragraphs short for maximum benefit.

The short closing paragraph

  • Finally close with a direct request for action
  • Add a goodwill comment that highlights benefits to the reader

Please contact me by email at … or by telephone at … if you wish further details about this recommendation.  I know that Tom will be an asset to your organization. 


Please contact me at … if you wish further information about my friend, Tom.  I would welcome the opportunity to discuss his participation in your program.

A very kind closing would certainly leave the reader with a positive feeling. 

The closing short paragraph is the opportunity ...

The closing short paragraph of your letter(s) is the opportunity

  • To offer to assist your reader
  • To highlight benefits to the reader

Try to leave the reader with a most positive impression.

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