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Candidates who want to be accepted into officer training programs have to get letters of recommendation from individuals who can vouch for their characters. It is important that they get letters from credible people, so the fact that you have been asked to write one indicates that the candidate highly regards you. Like all letters of recommendation, the one for officer training involves highlighting the candidate's strong point and not mentioning their weak ones. Leo Scott, a graduate of Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, said, “Letters of recommendation are studied closely by the entrance board for officer training. Weak references are a red flag that the applicant is likely not suitable.”
Adhere to the standard business letter format: return address, date, inside address, salutation, body of letter and closing. With the block-style, all text starts on the left-hand side of the page. Leave 1-inch margins on all four sides of the page and one blank space between the parts of the letter.
Use letterhead to make your letter of recommendation look more official. Otherwise, type your address in the top left-hand corner of the page. Use Times New Roman font.
Type in the date, followed by the inside address. The inside address is the same as the one on the envelope.
Start with the salutation. If you know the name of the person address it to him, otherwise write “To the Officer in Charge of Recommendations for Officer Training:” to ensure it ends up where it should.
Insert a topic line. For example “Topic: Recommendation for Curtis Adams” leaves no doubt about the purpose of your letter.
Keep your paragraphs and sentences short, as is the military style. Every time you change ideas, start a new paragraph. Don’t use a big word when a small one conveys the same meaning.
Explain your relationship with the applicant. Indicate in what capacity and for how long you have known him. Also, clearly establish why you are qualified to recommend the candidate. Credibility is important when it comes to recommendations.
Mention the applicant’s career goals. Tailor your letter to identify the specific officer training the person wants, and discuss why you think she is suitable for further education.
Comment of the candidate’s attributes. Topics under this rubric include the individual’s ability to effectively organize, research skills, creative abilities and interpersonal skills. Support that you say with concrete examples.
Recap your major points in your concluding paragraph. Provide your contact details and indicate that you would be pleased to discuss the candidate in more detail if required. Being available for questions tells the officer-in-charge that your recommendation is serious.
Close with “Sincerely,” followed by a comma. Leave enough room for your signature – about three or four spaces – and then type your name.
Leave your letter of recommendation for at least 24 hours. After a day or so, come back to the letter and read it out loud to yourself. Put yourself in the position of the officer-in-charge and assess your letter for tone and sincerity. Modify if required. Finally, correct any grammar or typing mistakes.
Jody Hanson began writing professionally in 1992 to help finance her second around-the-world trip. In addition to her academic books, she has written for "International Living," the "Sydney Courier" and the "Australian Woman's Forum." Hanson holds a Ph.D. in adult education from Greenwich University.