HR templates

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation, with Example Templates

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation, with Example Templates

One of the most important things you learn as an HR professional is the value of investing in people. I’ve seen the returns of investing in your team members time and time again in the time I’ve spent working on learning and development initiatives. I’ve even written a few letters of recommendation myself from time to time.

How can you actualise that investment in your people? Letters of recommendation are a good way to start.

Letters of recommendation are powerful tools for professional development and career growth, not just for the person being recommended, but for the person doing the recommending as well.

When you recommend someone, you reciprocate the support that they’ve given to you and your organisation over the years. It’s an act of professional respect and kindness that reflects on their achievements and plays a part in shaping their career. The price of success is to pay it forward.

In this post, I’ll explain how to write a letter of recommendation and offer you a few standard letter of recommendation templates you can use yourself.

How to Write a Letter of Recommendation

Writing a letter of recommendation takes some thought and consideration. This is someone’s career you’ll be helping build, after all.

You can start by collecting details about the candidate’s role, achievements, and career goals. Talk to the candidate about the specific role they want to pursue. Align the letter you write for them with their career goals.

Letter of Recommendation Key Components

When you write a letter of recommendation, you’ll generally include an:

  • Introduction: Establish your relationship and history with the candidate, mention how long you’ve known them and how you worked together, and give the reader some context
  • Body: Talk about the candidate’s achievements, skills, relevant experiences, and projects where they shone or demonstrated their expertise
  • Conclusion: End on a strong note of endorsement for the candidate, and why they deserve this opportunity

A few things to keep in mind as well:

  • Balance a professional tone with personal insight: Talk about your personal experiences and observations with the candidate, along with specific examples of their skills and achievements
  • Tailor the letter to the opportunity: Match the content and language of the letter to the job description, and talk about any skills or achievements that match the role
  • Finalize the letter: Edit and proofread for clarity, tone, and grammar. Make the letter concise, impactful, and to the point

Standard Professional Letter of Recommendation

This is the most bog-standard, use-all letter of recommendation that you can use in a variety of professional scenarios. This template is designed to apply to a range of professional contexts. You can customise the letter to the candidate’s specific achievements and career goals.

Standard Professional Template

[Your Name]

[Your Position]

[Your Company/Organisation]

[Your Address]

[Your Email]

[Your Phone Number]

[Date]

[Recipient’s Name (if known)]

[Recipient’s Position]

[Recipient’s Company/Organisation]

[Recipient’s Address]

Dear [Recipient’s Name or “To Whom It May Concern”],

I am writing to recommend [Candidate’s Full Name] for [Position or Opportunity they are applying for]. As [Your Position], I had the pleasure of working with [Candidate’s Name] for [Duration of Time] at [Your Company/Organization]. During this time, [he/she/they] demonstrated exceptional skills and qualities that make [him/her/them] an outstanding choice for the role.

[Candidate’s Name] was responsible for [Briefly describe the candidate’s role and key responsibilities]. [He/She/They] consistently displayed a high level of proficiency in [mention specific skills or areas of expertise]. For instance, [provide a specific example of an achievement or project that highlights these skills].

Apart from [his/her/their] technical abilities, [Candidate’s Name] also excels in [mention soft skills, such as communication, leadership, and teamwork]. [He/She/They] has a remarkable talent for [specific soft skill] which was evident when [give an example that demonstrates this quality].

[Optional: Include another paragraph if there is additional relevant information or specific anecdotes that further illustrate the candidate’s qualifications and character.]

In conclusion, [Candidate’s Name] is a motivated and forward-thinking individual who brings a wealth of expertise and a positive attitude to everything [he/she/they] does. I am confident that [he/she/they] will be an invaluable asset to your [team/organisation/program]. Please feel free to contact me at [Your Phone Number] or [Your Email] if you require any further information.

Sincerely,

[Your Handwritten Signature (if submitting a hard copy)]

[Your Typed Name]

Download our standard professional letter of recommendation template.webp

Character Reference Template

A character reference works a bit differently from the standard letter of recommendation, in that they focus more on the individual’s personal qualities and character traits. You can use these if the candidate doesn’t have a lot of professional experience yet.

Use a character reference for any roles where personal qualities are as important as professional skills e.g. volunteer positions, community involvement roles.

Personalise this template by using anecdotes and examples that emphasize the candidate’s ethics, morals, and personal qualities. Be genuine and sincere, and keep the focus of the letter contained to the candidate’s character.

Character Reference Template

Dear [Recipient’s Name or “To Whom It May Concern”],

I am writing to provide a character reference for [Individual’s Full Name]. I have known [Individual’s Name] for [Duration of Time] in my capacity as [Your Relationship to the Individual, e.g., friend, mentor, community leader].

Throughout the time I have known [him/her/them], [Individual’s Name] has consistently displayed qualities such as [mention specific character traits, like integrity, compassion, and responsibility]. For example, [provide a specific anecdote or instance that illustrates these traits]. This instance highlights [his/her/their] natural ability for [relevant trait or skill].

In addition to [his/her/their] [mention another trait, e.g., kindness, dedication], [Individual’s Name] has also shown a remarkable talent for [another skill or quality], which was particularly evident when [give another example or story that demonstrates this quality].

[Optional: Include another paragraph if there is additional relevant information or specific anecdotes that further illustrate the individual’s character and qualities.]

[Individual’s Name] is a person of good moral character, who consistently shows consideration and respect for others. [His/Her/Their] positive attitude and [mention another quality, e.g., work ethic, reliability] make [him/her/them] an excellent candidate for [mention the opportunity, role, position, etc., if known].

I am confident that [Individual’s Name] will be a valuable addition to any organization or endeavour [he/she/they] chooses to pursue. Please feel free to contact me at [Your Phone Number] or [Your Email] if you need any further information.

Sincerely,

[Your Handwritten Signature (if submitting a hard copy)]

[Your Typed Name]

Download our character reference template.webp

Colleague Recommendation Letter Template

In this letter of recommendation template, you are not giving an endorsement from a position of seniority, but as one from one peer to another.

Recommendations from a colleague give a different angle and focus more on day-to-day interactions, teamwork, interpersonal skills, and the like. These are useful for internal promotions, team projects, or other outside opportunities where the candidate’s ability to work well in a group setting is important.

When customising this template, emphasize their teamwork and collaboration abilities. Talk about moments that showcase their ability to solve problems collaboratively and bring creative solutions to a team.

Colleague Recommendation Template

Dear [Recipient’s Name or “To Whom It May Concern”],

I am writing to recommend my colleague, [Colleague’s Full Name], for [Position or Opportunity they are applying for]. As [Your Position/Title] at [Your Company/Organization], I have had the opportunity to work alongside [Colleague’s Name] for [Duration of Time], and I have always been impressed by [his/her/their] professionalism and abilities.

During our time working together, [Colleague’s Name] has consistently demonstrated exceptional skills in [mention specific areas, such as project management, teamwork, or problem-solving]. For example, in the [mention a specific project or task], [he/she/they] played a crucial role in [describe the colleague’s contribution and the impact it had].

[Colleague’s Name] is not only skilled in [mention a specific skill or area] but also exhibits strong interpersonal abilities. [He/She/They] is a natural team player, always ready to lend a hand or share insights. [His/Her/Their] ability to effectively communicate and collaborate with team members of various backgrounds is particularly noteworthy.

[Optional: Include another paragraph if there is additional relevant information or specific anecdotes that further illustrate the colleague’s skills and contributions to the team.]

I am confident that [Colleague’s Name] will bring the same level of dedication, skill, and teamwork to [Position or Opportunity they are applying for] as [he/she/they] has consistently demonstrated here at [Your Company/Organization]. [His/Her/Their] positive attitude and professional approach would be an asset to any team.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at [Your Phone Number] or [Your Email] if you require any further information or insights regarding [Colleague’s Name]'s qualifications and character.

Sincerely,

[Your Handwritten Signature (if submitting a hard copy)]

[Your Typed Name] 

Download our colleague recommendation letter template.webp

Make Your Letter Recommendations Genuine and Meaningful

A thoughtful and genuine letter of recommendation can be a leg up in someone’s career and professional journey. Using Charlie’s platform, you can create and store these and other templates you use when you write a letter of recommendation for a team member. 

Start a free trial today, and be the difference someone needs in the next stage of their career.

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