Are you wondering what goes into a successful letter of recommendation? You need to submit an LOR that talks positively and confidently about your profile if it should serve you the purpose.
Do not worry, if you have no idea how to go about it. This post will talk about everything you need to know about writing an LOR in detail.
In this blog, we will look at:
- What a letter of recommendation is
- How to write the best recommendation letter
- Recommendation letter sample to understand what it entails
Table of Contents
- What is a Letter of Recommendation?
- Difference Between Reference Letter and Recommendation Letter
- Importance of Having a Good LOR
- Who Needs an LOR and Why Do They Need It?
- Letter of Recommendation Types
- How to Write a Letter of Recommendation?
- Recommendation Letter Sample
- How to Request a Letter of Recommendation?
What is a Letter of Recommendation?
Letter of recommendation is a letter by an academic head or an employer/manager recommending a candidate for higher education or for a job interview at a particular institution or organization.
Difference Between Reference Letter and Recommendation Letter
At the time of filing an application for higher education or job interview, you may be asked to either produce a reference letter or a recommendation letter.
Don’t be quick to assume that both are the same.
They are different.
|Reference letter is used as a reference for one’s character. The letter does not have to be customized for a particular purpose.||You use an LOR when you should have the backup of a strong recommendation for a particular opportunity.|
|You can produce a professional reference letter when the institute or organization is only asking for a document to verify your character.||If you have to prove your skills, abilities and strengths in a particular area, for instance, your profession or academics, you need a letter of recommendation.|
|Any relevant individual from your place of work or former institution can indulge in writing a reference for someone.||You need to approach someone, who can talk authentically about your contributions, for writing LOR. It could be your HOD, professor or employer.|
|Writing a reference letter should be in a recognized format.||Write your LOR using the correct letter of recommendation template|
Importance of Having a Good LOR
According to recent trends, more than two third of recruiters and higher education institutions demand LOR from candidates at the time of inviting applications. This shows how significant it is.
Therefore, an LOR that you write ideally:
Serves an outside perspective regarding your candidature
Your personal statement or statement of purpose would only give your thoughts. On the other hand, an academic or work recommendation letter serves as an outside perspective regarding your candidature.
Validates your resume
You talk about your academic or professional excellence on your resume but how could your admission committee or recruiter know that this is the case? That is where the LOR comes to play. It validates your resume.
Gives a genuine opinion about you
Not only does your LOR highlight your strengths but also the key areas where you need to improve. So, admission officers get a realistic view of you when they scrutinize your LOR along with other documents you submit.
Verifies your soft skills
Your head of the department or professor could verify your soft skills such as leadership qualities, communication skills etc. in the LOR. They have spent a good amount of time with you evaluating you.
Who Needs an LOR and Why Do They Need It?
An LOR is required by both students and job seekers. A student seeking admission for higher education in a college or university, a candidate looking for a job or job change or a scholarship aspirant would need it.
Both recruiters and the admission committee look to take in the best applicants. An LOR helps them see beyond an applicant’s personal statement or resume. It gives a more realistic and authentic opinion about the applicant.
Letter of Recommendation Types
There are two types of letters of recommendation – academic LOR and professional LOR.
Academic Letters of Recommendation
An academic letter of recommendation is written especially for recommending a candidate to a higher education program. It is written by teachers, professors, or HOD.
Depending on the academic purpose for which it is written, academic LORs can be of the following nature.
LOR for Fellowship
Letter of Recommendation for Professionals
Professionals would require an LOR for multiple purposes. It may be for applying for a new job or change in the existing job or sometimes for a promotion.
Also Read: How to write a Character Reference Letter?
How to Write a Letter of Recommendation?
To write a powerful LOR, you must know the correct letter of recommendation meaning and purpose. This will enable you to write it meaningfully.
- Bring in a personal touch in the tone.
- Avoid using passive voice in the letter.
- Write it from the first-person point of view as shown in the letter of recommendation example.
- Keep the points in a strategic order. Start with discussing the key strengths and traits followed by achievements and major contributions.
- Add more details and figures to make the points strong, for instance, the score, details of achievements, course names, etc.
- Avoid mistakes by proofreading and editing it carefully before submission.
Who Should Write It?
It is important to rope in the right person for writing a letter of recommendation. Consider a professor or HOD or teacher or manager who has had an academic or professional level relationship with you and can write positively about you.
Recommendation Letter Sample
Take a few minutes to review a recommendation letter sample as it will give you insights regarding the writing tone, LOR format, word count etc.
Refrain from reading unauthentic LOR samples online.
What Should You Include in an LOR?
When the LOR is for university admission, the focus should be on your research abilities and academic strengths. When it comes to a job, it should highlight your professional strengths.
In general, your LOR should be focused on the following aspects:
- Professional traits
- Leadership skills
- Contribution to the organization
Tips for Writing a Good LOR
A good LOR has to have a few fundamental characteristics. Follow the below tips for the same.
Customize each LOR :
It is highly advisable to keep a customized LOR for each recommendation purpose. Tailor the letter according to its purpose and requirements.
Make it specific :
If you require multiple LORs for admission, let each recommender focus on one or two particular strengths or traits about you than writing generically about yourself.
Include figures to quantify your achievements :
When your achievements are compared and written quantitatively, they will have more convincing ability than just saying you scored high.
Let your recommender really support you :
You need to get an LOR that supports you rather than an LOR that seems too ritualistic. For this, you need to choose a faculty who is genuinely ready to support you.
Choose the correct recommendation letter format :
If you are required to format your LOR in a certain way, provide the recommender with a recommendation letter pdf sample to learn the correct format.
Skills to Be Highlighted In LOR
Your recommendation letter should highlight your skills. Recruiters or admission officers would keep an eye out to know if you have the following skills when they scrutinize your LOR.
Skills to Highlight in An Academic Letter of Recommendation
- Leadership qualities
- Analytical skills
- Ability to work in a team
- Academic performance
- Achievements and accomplishments
Skills to Highlight in a Professional Letter of Recommendation
- Reliability at work
- Time management
- Ability to work in a team
- Agility to adapt to changes
Dos and Don’ts for Writing an Effective LOR
When you write your letter of recommendation, keep the following dos and don’ts in mind to make it more effective.
- Inform your recommender about the LOR requirement in advance
- Provide the recommender with a checklist of information you wish to include in the LOR
- Make sure that the LOR clearly describes in what way you have been associated with the recommender
- Include recommender’s contact details without fail
- Do not let your LOR contradict what your personal statement says.
- Don’t allow your LOR only focus on your strengths. Let it show certain areas that need improvement in a positive manner
- Do not request a friend or family member to write your LOR
- Do not write only statements. Write it engagingly and coherently.
Common Mistakes to Avoid in LOR
People often make mistakes out of ignorance but that is not a justification for the mistakes. When you write your LOR, be prepared not to commit these mistakes.
Copying what your resume says :
When recommenders ask students to write their LOR, many would copy what is in their resume or SOP. This is a big blunder and should be avoided.
Not giving any relevant information :
Your recommender might not remember you or not have relevant information about you. It is your duty to supply them with enough points so they can write a good LOR.
Spellings and grammar mistakes :
An LOR that contains too many grammatical or spelling mistakes will cause selectors to doubt the authenticity and reliability of the person recommending you to the program.
Not meeting the protocol :
Meet all protocols. For instance, writing on the letter pad, professional reference letter template, enclosing the letter in a sealed envelope etc.
Common Challenges Faced While Writing LOR and Reference Letter
LOR writing is not a regular thing and hence most people would find it quite challenging when they start working on it.
Here is a list of some of those challenges.
- Not knowing how to write because of lack of familiarity with LOR or professional reference letter template.
- Lack of proficiency in the English language. LOR has to be written in good English.
- Not knowing whom to request the LOR for you.
- Not enough time left to write the LOR because the submission date is fast approaching.
How to Request a Letter of Recommendation?
Once you know that you need an LOR for academic or professional reasons, the next step is to decide whom to ask and how to ask.
Here are some tips for you to make the process easier.
- Find out who the most appropriate person to recommend you is and fix him or her.
- Figure out when you can approach him and request it. You need to ensure that the recommender gets sufficient time to go over your request and process the letter.
- Meet the recommender in person. Requesting via phone or email might not always be helpful.
- If you are away, write a request to the recommender first. See the letter of recommendation request sample for more info.
- Supply the recommender with sufficient details to write a comprehensive and relevant LOR.
You now have the inputs to write a powerful letter of recommendation.
Don’t wait until the last minute to write your LOR. Start working on it right away.
Do you mind taking a moment to share your feedback, suggestion, or doubts with us regarding the blog you just read or the LOR/reference letter sample we shared?
We are eager to know how it helped you.
Leave them on the comment section!
Get In Touch