Writing a recommendation letter can be a bit of a daunting task. On the one hand, you might be flattered, excited and eager to help; on the other, you might be stressed out and unsure of how best to go about it. There are a number of factors to take into account when writing a letter of recommendation, that, if carefully considered, should dramatically reduce the amount of stress related to the activity.
Evaluate whether you are qualified to write this letter of recommendation. Do you know the person in question well enough to comment on their abilities? Their strengths and weaknesses? Have you interacted with them in a professional and/or academic capacity?
If you decide to write the letter, take into account the application/person/position to whom it is intended. Make sure you understand how best to tailor this particular letter of recommendation to the request. This is a crucial step that ensures that your letter of recommendation is valuable and relevant. If you are unsure about the position being applied for, ask! The person who requested the recommendation will likely be more than happy to go into detail for you and will appreciate your interest.
Structure your letter to be clear and concise. Sticking to a three-paragraph structure tends to help shape your letter so as to be easy to read while providing all relevant information. These guidelines could help provide a framework for your letter of recommendation:
- Share your relationship with the applicant: how do you know them? Have you ever worked together?
- Provide details on the student’s relevant past work and examples of their interest in the subject/field for which they are applying.
- Highlight specific reasons you think the applicant is ideal for this position.
Take care to submit your letter of recommendation in a timely manner. This not only shows promptness and willingness to contribute on the candidates behalf, but also can help expedite their application process.
Walking through these steps can greatly aid in pulling together a positive and effective letter of recommendation. Keeping in mind that someone has entrusted you with a significant amount of responsibility related to their life, it is wise to treat recommendation letters with a sense of gravity appropriate to the task.