Tips to write a good reference letter
Team Careers, 20 Mar 2017


Tips to write a good reference letter - Letter of recommendation are used to gather additional information about a candidate for employment, graduate study or other opportunity and should tell how well an applicant accomplished what is laid out in the applicant’s résumé or CV. If a writer(s) cannot think of supportive information to include in the reference letter, they should decline the applicant’s request for a recommendation, be candid, be helpful, and suggest another writer (if possible).  Students can read here all the tips to write a good reference letter such as content of reference letter and its part.

 

Content of a reference letter

The language of the recommendation letter should be formal. It is always better to write a Letter of recommendation (LoR) on a letterhead. It should give an overall picture of the candidate's:

  • Personal characteristics

  • Performance

  • Experience

  • Strengths

  • Capabilities

  • Professional promise

Recommendation letters must try to avoid vague statements and any statements of opinion should be clearly identified and explained. Faint prose and flattering remarks about the applicant can have negative implication and may destroy the applicant's ability to obtain the position/ award.

 

Parts of recommendation letter

 

The letter of recommendation should be about one page in length and generally consist of three parts: opening, body and closing.

 

In the opening of the LoR, the writer should explain the relationship between himself/ herself and the candidate as well as why the letter is being written. For example: Bill Jones completed his student teaching under my supervision. I am pleased to be able to provide a letter recommending him for a position as a teacher.

 

The writer may want to describe the type of experience, length, and time period during which he/she worked with the candidate. He may also wish to describe any special assignments or responsibilities that the candidate completed.

 

The body of the recommendation should provide specific information about the candidate. Information may include: 

  1. Personal characteristics such as poise, confidence, dependability, patience, creativity, etc.

  2. Teaching abilities such as knowledge of the subject area, problem solving abilities, ability to manage students, ability to work with colleagues and parents, curriculum development, etc.

  3. Specific areas of strength or special experiences. The candidate may have some exceptional strengths such as a very high energy level or excellent communication skills. A candidate may also have a specific area of knowledge or experience such as a strong background in science, an undergraduate degree in another area or related work experience in education, a research project, coaching, extracurricular activities, etc.

The closing of the reference letter should briefly summarize previous points and clearly state that you recommend the candidate for the position, graduate program or opportunity he is seeking.

 

The recommendation letter should be written in a language that is straightforward and to the point. Avoid using jargon or language that is too general or effusive.

 

Employer Letter of recommendation v/s Academic Letter of recommendation

Letters from employers should contain information such as the positions the applicant had held with the organization; a summary of the applicant’s job responsibilities; the applicant’s strengths, skills, talents, initiative, dedication, integrity, and/or reliability; the applicant’s ability to work with a team; and the applicant’s ability to work independently.

 

Recommendation letters from faculty should address the applicant’s academic performance, honors and awards, initiative, dedication, integrity, willingness to follow school policy, ability to work with others, and/or ability to work independently.

 

Sample of a recommendation letter:

I was Tom Smith's cooperating teacher during his student teaching assignment the Spring 2002 semester. Tom completed sixteen weeks of student teaching in seventh grade social studies under my supervision. I am pleased to be able to write a letter of recommendation for Tom.

 

During Tom's student teaching experience, he was highly motivated to learn as much as he could and perform to his best capacities. He frequently put in long hours to develop lesson plans and monitor student progress. He asked for feedback on a daily basis and accepted constructive criticism with maturity. He understood his limitations as an inexperienced teacher and observed experienced teachers closely in order to improve his own teaching abilities.

 

Tom has several strengths but his main strength, from my observations, is his ability to motivate students. He always seemed sincerely interested in their progress and presented new material in a way that captured their attention. For example, he had a group of students map out a "road-trip" across the United States. The students had to plan the trip to include a given number of state and national parks, major cities and historic battle sites. The students really dived into the project. Tom consistently displayed this type of creativity in planning lessons and motivating students. He soon learned that the best way to manage a classroom is to keep students on-task with projects that were both interesting and challenging. He also did a good job of recognizing when a student needed special assistance or attention.

 

In summary, Tom displayed the qualities that make a teacher successful. He is dependable, motivated, and is in tune with the needs of his students. He works well with colleagues and administration and is able to learn from those around him. I highly recommend him for a teaching position.

 

This is a contributory article written by Linda Kaiser.

 

Also Read:

How to write best SOP?

SOP sample for UK Universities

Download E-Book on Letter of Recommendation tips

Guide: How to stylise your resume?

 

Letter of Recommendation
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