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How to Compose Sample Letters of Recommendation

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Write a simple letter of recommendation to support someone who is seeking a job, college admittance or an award. A letter of recommendation should be brief -- no more than a single page -- and direct. Your letter may be one of several that the applicant provides, but the recipient will read it closely to learn details important in making hiring and selection decisions.

Follow standards of business-letter formatting. Include your own name and address, the name and address of the recipient if known, and the date in the heading of the letter.

Greet the recipient by name with a salutation like “Dear Ms. X.” If your letter is not being sent to a particular person, open with a standard phrase like “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Prospective Employers.”

Begin the body of your letter with a sample statement of intent or purpose. Name the person you are recommending and the job or honor for which you are recommending that person.

Explain your relationship with the person you are recommending. Discuss first any professional relationship you have, then note if your relationship is a personal one. Follow with the specific length of time you have known him.

Offer specific factual information to support your recommendation. Discuss the person’s performance, professional attributes and personal character traits, for example.

Provide details about tasks that the person has accomplished and goals you have seen him achieve. Back up general assertions about the person’s performance with clear evidence.

Restate your endorsement in a way that is specific to the position or distinction being sought. Invite the recipient to contact you for more information if needed and finish with a standard business closing.

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