How to Write a Recommendation Letter (Examples & Templates)

If you’re looking to write a compelling recommendation letter, I’ve got you covered.

Here is a quick summary of how to write a recommendation letter:

Write a recommendation letter by introducing yourself, outlining your relationship with the candidate, and highlighting their relevant skills and achievements. Use concrete anecdotes to back up claims and align the letter with the opportunity. Close by offering support and providing contact details.

Over the years, I’ve written countless letters for students, colleagues, and friends.

Whether you’re writing your first recommendation or your hundredth, this guide will provide practical advice and helpful examples.

What Is a Recommendation Letter?

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I made this image with AI — How to Write a Letter of Recommendation

A recommendation letter is a document that attests to someone’s abilities, skills, and character

It’s written by someone who knows the candidate well – a teacher, employer, or colleague. The goal is to provide the recipient (like an admissions officer or hiring manager) with an authentic perspective on the candidate’s strengths.

A strong recommendation letter highlights the applicant’s standout qualities.

It offers specific examples to back up general statements, helping readers picture how the candidate can excel in the role or environment.

The Parts of a Recommendation Letter

  1. Salutation: Begin with a polite greeting, usually addressing the recipient directly (e.g., “Dear [Recipient’s Name]”).
  2. Introduction: Explain your relationship with the candidate and why you’re qualified to write the letter.
  3. Body: Describe the candidate’s strengths, with concrete examples that show how they’ve excelled.
  4. Closing: Offer a summary and your overall endorsement of the candidate, with an invitation to contact you for more information.
  5. Signature: Sign the letter with your name and title.

Types of Recommendation Letters

Academic Recommendation Letters: Written by teachers or professors to support students applying for college, graduate school, or scholarships.

Professional Recommendation Letters: Written by colleagues or supervisors to support someone applying for a job or promotion.

Character Recommendation Letters: Written by friends or community members to vouch for someone’s personal character.

Immigration Recommendation Letters: Written to assist someone with visa, residency, or citizenship applications.

Tenant Recommendation Letters: Written by former landlords to endorse tenants seeking new rentals.

Each type requires a unique approach but shares the same basic structure.

How to Write a Recommendation Letter in 5 Easy Steps

Let’s go over a step-by-step guide for how to write a recommendation letter.

Step 1: Understand the Purpose

To write an impactful recommendation letter, I always start by understanding its purpose.

Is this letter for a job, school application, or another opportunity? This context guides the tone and the specific skills or attributes to highlight.

For instance, when writing for a student’s scholarship application, I’d focus on their academic performance, extracurricular involvement, and leadership potential.

If writing for a job, I’d emphasize professional achievements, teamwork, and reliability.


  • “In the three years that I’ve taught Lisa, her work ethic and initiative stood out. She not only excelled in her coursework but also organized successful school-wide fundraisers.”
  • “During the five years I’ve worked with Kevin, he consistently delivered projects on time. His adaptability and communication skills ensured smooth collaboration across departments.”

Understanding the purpose keeps your writing focused and ensures your letter provides the relevant insights.

Step 2: Gather Information

Next, I collect the information I need about the candidate.

I usually ask them for their resume, job description, or details about the opportunity they’re pursuing. This way, I can tailor my writing to their goals and experiences.

I also ask them to share any specific accomplishments or attributes they want highlighted.

By combining my observations with their input, I create a more comprehensive endorsement.


  • “Megan shared her goal of working in corporate finance, so I highlighted her analytical abilities. She consistently provided accurate financial projections during her internship.”
  • “Carlos is pursuing a master’s in education, so I focused on his teaching assistant experience, where he helped students excel and enhanced course materials.”

Having detailed information makes the letter personal, specific, and directly aligned with the recipient’s expectations.

Step 3: Write a Strong Introduction

The introduction sets the stage. I state my relationship with the candidate and establish my qualifications to endorse them.

This part should immediately capture the reader’s attention by giving them confidence in my perspective.

Start by identifying the role or opportunity and briefly summarize the candidate’s key strengths.


  • “As Lisa’s history teacher for the past three years, I’ve witnessed her academic growth firsthand. She displays exceptional research skills and consistently leads class discussions.”
  • “As Kevin’s supervisor at ABC Corp for five years, I can attest to his dedication and strategic thinking. His project management skills are unparalleled.”

Step 4: Highlight Key Strengths

The body is where I expand on the candidate’s skills and accomplishments.

I focus on 2-3 key strengths relevant to the opportunity, using specific anecdotes to show how they excelled in each area.

Examples make the strengths memorable and credible.


  • “In Lisa’s role as the debate team captain, she maintained a consistent practice schedule, leading the team to multiple victories. Her ability to quickly analyze opposing arguments shows her critical thinking.”
  • “Kevin spearheaded a cost-saving initiative that reduced expenses by 15%. He involved the entire team in brainstorming solutions, reflecting his inclusive leadership style.”

Choose examples that align with what the recipient wants, like leadership for management roles or creativity for design positions.

Step 5: Wrap Up with a Strong Conclusion

The conclusion is the final push to persuade the recipient.

I offer a summary of my endorsement and a closing statement that shows my belief in the candidate’s potential.

Provide an invitation to contact you if they have additional questions.


  • “In summary, Lisa is an outstanding student who would thrive in your scholarship program. Please feel free to reach out if you need further details on her qualifications.”
  • “Kevin is a versatile and dedicated professional who would make a great addition to your team. I can provide more examples of his work if needed.”

How to Write a Good Recommendation Letter

Crafting a standout recommendation letter requires creativity and nuance.

Balance Detail with Brevity: While specifics are crucial, keep the letter concise. Provide concrete anecdotes and achievements but avoid overwhelming the reader with unnecessary details. Aim for clarity to help recipients easily understand the candidate’s strengths.

Tailor the Content: Avoid generic phrasing. Each letter should feel customized. Reference the applicant’s goals or past interactions with the recipient’s organization. For instance, if applying to a specific job, mention how the candidate’s skill set fits the company’s values or culture.

Show, Don’t Tell: Instead of just listing adjectives like “hardworking,” provide vivid examples. Describe how the candidate solved a challenging project or demonstrated leadership during a critical moment. This approach makes their strengths more tangible and relatable.

Encourage Future Contact: Indicate your willingness to discuss the candidate’s qualifications further. It conveys genuine support and helps establish credibility.

These advanced tips will help you write a memorable letter that sets candidates apart from the competition.

Here is helpful video about how to write a recommendation letter that gets results:

YouTube Video by LinkedIn — How to Write a Recommendation Letter

How to Write a Recommendation Letter for Special Circumstances

Writing a recommendation letter for special circumstances like a sorority, writing on your behalf, or immigration requires unique consideration.


When recommending someone for a sorority, emphasize social compatibility, leadership potential, and how they embody the sorority’s values. Highlight the candidate’s involvement in community service, teamwork, and any leadership roles they’ve held. These qualities show that they’ll positively contribute to the chapter’s culture.

For Yourself

Writing a letter of recommendation for yourself can be tricky. The best way is to draft a realistic, humble self-endorsement and then ask a mentor or supervisor to refine and sign it. Focus on specific strengths, achievements, and future goals. Be concise yet informative to present a well-rounded perspective.


Immigration letters emphasize moral character, social ties, and the applicant’s positive impact on the community. Outline how the candidate demonstrates honesty, strong work ethics, and good citizenship. Share personal stories or references that illustrate their loyalty, integrity, and dedication.

How to Write a Recommendation Letter (3 Templates)

I’m a big fan of templates based on proven results, so here are three starter templates that you can adjust to fit your exact recommendation letter needs.

Academic Template

Dear [Recipient’s Name],

I am [Your Name], [Your Title], and I’ve had the pleasure of knowing [Student’s Name] for [Duration]. In my role as [Your Position], I have seen [Student’s Name] excel in [Specific Subject/Area] through [Example of Accomplishment].

[He/She/They] consistently demonstrate [Relevant Skills/Attributes] by [Specific Example/Project]. An incident that stands out is when [Student’s Name] [Description of Anecdote that Highlights Leadership/Creativity].

I wholeheartedly endorse [Student’s Name] for [Scholarship/Program], as I believe [he/she/they] will [Projected Future Success]. Please feel free to contact me for any additional information at [Your Contact Details].

[Your Signature & Title]

Professional Template

Dear [Recipient’s Name],

I’m [Your Name], a [Your Position] at [Company Name], and I’ve worked with [Candidate’s Name] for [Duration]. In [His/Her/Their] role as [Job Title], [he/she/they] have consistently [Accomplishment].

[Candidate’s Name] demonstrates outstanding [Relevant Skills] and is known for [Examples of Work Ethic or Collaboration]. For instance, during [Project/Challenge], [he/she/they] [Description of Anecdote Highlighting Problem-Solving/Teamwork].

I highly recommend [Candidate’s Name] for [Job Title/Opportunity], as [he/she/they] will bring valuable skills and dedication. Please reach out to me at [Your Contact Details] if you’d like further information.

Best regards,
[Your Signature & Title]

Character Template

Dear [Recipient’s Name],

I am [Your Name], a [Your Role] and have known [Candidate’s Name] for [Duration] as [Nature of Relationship]. I know [Candidate’s Name] to be a person of [Positive Traits like Integrity/Kindness/Empathy].

One story that demonstrates [his/her/their] character is when [Candidate’s Name] [Anecdote Illustrating Moral Compass/Commitment to Others]. This shows [he/she/they] possess a strong sense of [Relevant Character Trait].

I fully support [Candidate’s Name] for [Specific Opportunity] because [he/she/they] will contribute [Positive Impact]. If you need any more information, please feel free to contact me at [Your Contact Details].

[Your Signature & Title]

How to Use AI to Write a Letter of Recommendation

AI tools can assist in writing recommendation letters by providing structured guidance and creativity boosts.

  • Time-Saving Drafts: Input key details into an AI tool like a candidate’s skills, work history, or achievements, and it will generate a tailored draft within minutes. This initial draft can save time, allowing you to refine and personalize the content.
  • Customizable Templates: AI can generate several recommendation letter templates based on different needs, from academic endorsements to professional references. By selecting the most appropriate structure, you can personalize the content further and ensure consistency.
  • Language and Grammar Optimization: AI-powered editing tools help refine the tone and correct grammatical errors. They ensure clear communication, free of awkward phrasing.
  • Creativity in Examples: With AI suggesting multiple ways to present a candidate’s accomplishments, you gain creative options for how best to frame their strengths. It helps diversify storytelling and present their attributes from fresh perspectives.

Some of my favorite AI tools for recommendation letters include Jasper, WriterSonic, and Copymatic.

Final Thoughts: How to Write a Recommendation Letter

Ultimately, you want to keep your writing honest, specific, and tailored to the opportunity to make the strongest impact.

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