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Letter of Recommendation

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A letter of recommendation provides feedback on an individual's performance, work ethic, leadership, and/or character. It is usually accompanied by a job or academic application but is also suitable for personal situations, such as a rental agreement or standard scholarship application. Edit this legal template by Lawrina online and download the prepared PDF document for your professional needs.
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Paper titled "Letter of Recommendation"; woman writing making notes in the notebook and sitting at the desk

A letter of recommendation template can help you save considerable time compared to starting from a blank page. A template can also ensure that your recommendation letter accurately describes the applicant and their qualifications. 

Using a letter of recommendation template removes the need to remember which details should be mentioned. It gives you peace of mind, knowing that your letter stands out as a professionally formatted and written document. Below we go into more detail on what a letter of recommendation is, the types of recommendations, and how to use a letter of recommendation template.

What Is a Letter of Recommendation?

A standard letter of recommendation is a written evaluation of someone's character. An applicant may be required to send a letter of recommendation with a job, scholarship, or academic application. It can also be used for personal situations when you need good recommendation from your employer. For example, lawyers can benefit from an attorney letter of recommendation created by their clients; models can ask photographers they worked with for a model letter of recommendation. 

A letter of recommendation aims to highlight the individual's accomplishments and demonstrate their competence and suitability for whatever they are applying for. Using a letter of recommendation template can make things easier for you.

Parties of the Letter of Recommendation

A letter of recommendation is someone's assessment of another individual’s qualifications and performance. There are only three parties referred to in the letter:

  • Applicant — The applicant or candidate is the individual applying  and asking for endorsement in a letter of recommendation template.
  • Referee –– The person writing the letter of recommendation to endorse the applicant or candidate. A suitable referee has first-hand knowledge of the candidate's attitude and performance within the context of the recommendation. 
  • Recipient — The institution or individual considering the candidate for an opportunity. The recipient uses the letter of recommendation to decide on the candidate's potential to succeed.

Key Terms

Unlike a contract, a generic letter of recommendation template does not contain any technical terms. However, there are certain words and phrases that can be included in the letter to make it more impactful for the recipient and benefit the candidate. Some examples of words included are as follows:

  • Confident — Institutions want to work with people who are sure of themselves and their abilities. If the candidate you recommend is a confident individual, be sure to mention this trait and provide a specific example as evidence.

  • Articulate — An articulate person can clearly and succinctly describe their thoughts, defend their ideas, and mobilize people towards a common goal. Using this word in a letter of recommendation template will paint a picture of a competent candidate who can successfully interact with others. 

  • Resourceful — Being able to create unique solutions when the answers are not obvious is being resourceful. When this word is used to describe a candidate in a letter of recommendation, it demonstrates that the individual is creative and offers out-of-the-box solutions to challenges. 

  • Delighted — Use highly positive phrases to show the recipient that you are happy, confident, and honored to vouch for the candidate. These types of words show that you hold the candidate in high regard due to their ethics, capacity, and achievements and that they are a great person who deserves the opportunity.

Types of Letters of Recommendation

There are five main types of letter of recommendation templates:

  1. A general letter of recommendation – You can use a general letter of recommendation template which provides an overview of a person's achievements and suitability for their chosen discipline or line of work. The letter speaks to the person's academics, character, and employment performance. 

  2. Academic reference – This is written by a teacher or professor to recommend a student for a scholarship, college, or graduate program. 

  3. Fraternity letter of recommendation template – This is written by a current or former fraternity member seeking to recommend a friend to be accepted into their fraternity. 

  4. Character reference – This letter recommendation template vouches for an applicant's character and ability, emphasizing their positive attributes and competencies. Courts, employers, immigration offices, and schools may require character letters of recommendation. 

  5. Professional recommendation – This is written by a colleague, supervisor, or any other professional who knows the applicant’s employment performance. The purpose of the letter of recommendation template is to articulate that the applicant's academic, professional, and character are suitable for the job they have applied for. 

Warning

You may also provide a negative recommendation regarding an applicant. However, if a recommendation letter contains incorrect or misleading information, the referee may be liable for defamation. Therefore, you should always be careful to stipulate the facts that can be proved by sufficient evidence if negative information was mentioned by you in the letter of recommendation. 

Importance of a Letter of Recommendation

A letter of recommendation is essential to help the organization you are applying to gain a solid idea of who you are as a person. Suppose you are a graduate looking for admission to an international school to further your studies. In that case, you may have to provide an academic letter of recommendation from your college faculty and a professional letter of recommendation from your previous employer. 

A letter of recommendation template is essential for five key reasons:

  1. Enhancing your application's quality and value — If you are applying for college admission or a full-time job, a letter of recommendation will help you stand out from the sea of other applicants.

  2. Unique insight into your personality — A letter of recommendation sample describes someone else's experience and opinions about working with you. A highly personalized letter can provide a unique perspective on your personality and abilities, leaving a lasting impression on the recipient. 

  3. Makes you stand out from the competition — Always remember that an institution is only interested in the best candidates. To break a tie between two favorable candidates, the quality of their letters of recommendation plays a crucial role.

  4. Identify strengths and justify weaknesses — A letter of recommendation can thoroughly explain your weaknesses and highlight your strengths. Most colleges and prospective employers will ask about your weaknesses, so it is important to discuss them in a way that presents you in a good light. To help the admissions committee weigh your strengths against your weaknesses, you should request that the person recommending you answer this question thoughtfully.

  5. Make your case — A good letter of recommendation should reflect your objectives if you are applying for a job or to study a particular subject. For example, include the title and description of the position you are applying for. Give the individual writing your letter plenty of information as possible to present you in the best possible way.

What Should Be Included in a Letter of Recommendation?

An excellent printable blank letter of recommendation should attest to the applicant's exceptional qualities, achievements, and qualifications.

Insight

When writing a letter of recommendation for someone seeking a job, highlight their project management and interpersonal skills if you worked on a project with them. Your letter should be relevant to the purpose of the candidate’s application, such as a rental application or court testimony.

A letter of recommendation should include the following:

  • Date

  • Recipient's name

  • Relationship

  • Key competencies of the individual, such as their character, reliability, and consistency

  • The contact details for the person recommending the individual

How To Write a Letter of Recommendation Template

Create and Download the Form

Create and download a letter of recommendation template in PDF from Lawrina. This is a one-page document. To use it, confirm that your chosen type is relevant to the relationship with the candidate. 

Fill Out the Variable Details

Once you have the letter, complete the following:

  • Your name as a tutor, academic professor, employer, landlord, or fraternity member

  • The candidate's name

  • The number of years you have known the individual

  • In the context of your relationship, you could mention the company where you worked with the individual or the school the person attended

  • Your contact information

Print and Sign

Once you have filled in all the details required in the letter of recommendation template, you can upload the document in PDF and share it electronically or print it out. As a formal document, a letter of recommendation should always be signed, so make sure you add your signature electronically or sign a paper document before sending a copy to the recipient.

When Do You Need a Letter of Recommendation?

You may need to provide a letter of recommendation any time you are required to demonstrate evidence of your skills, qualifications, or competencies. The letter should validate your achievements and capabilities when applying to a potential employer, school, or other opportunity.

Common Use Cases

You may need a letter of recommendation for the following circumstances: 

  • Applying for a job;

  • Entering a competition;

  • Seeking a scholarship;

  • Seeking admission to a graduate or college program; or

  • Applying for a professional license or certification.

When Not To Use a Letter of Recommendation

Do not use a letter of recommendation if:

  • The opportunity you are applying for did not ask for a recommendation letter. Some institutions may ask you for references but not recommendation letters; 

  • The person recommending does not have the capacity, or is unable to adequately assess your skill or qualifications; and

  • The person recommending you does not have up-to-date knowledge of your achievements and qualifications.

How To Ask for a Letter of Recommendation: Tips & Tricks

man and woman discussing matters

Take the Hassle Out of Writing

First, download a letter of recommendation template from Lawrina. Give your letter some thought before you ask someone to be your referee. As most people are busy with their own lives, sitting down for a couple of hours writing down all of your great qualities can be a hassle, regardless of how highly they may regard you. 

Insight

Write a letter of recommendation that sets out all of your best qualities before you ask your chosen referee. The individual can then sign and amend the letter easily and will likely include more compliments and nice words about you.

Take a Respectful Approach

When asking someone about writing a letter of recommendation for you, make sure they are available and have the time to do it. It is best to send your request via email and let them know when you need the letter.

Patience Is Key

Give your selected referee at least one to two weeks after requesting a letter of recommendation. If you are insistent, the letter may come quicker, but it may also be less comprehensive. Nobody wants to do a favor for someone who behaves disrespectfully. 

Receive and Review

Make sure you proofread the completed letter of recommendation before legal issues may arise and sending it off to the recipient. 

Appreciation

Be sure to offer sincere thanks to the person who took the time to write the letter.

Laws & Regulations

An effective letter of recommendation is honest, accurate, and provides a complete picture of the applicant. Should the person writing the letter of recommendation template fail to adhere to these three principles, they will likely face lawsuits from the candidate or the institutions that make decisions based on the letter of recommendation sample they have written. 

States do not have laws directly related to letters of recommendation, but civil rights and liberties apply as follows:

  1. Tort law — States recognize tort law as civil wrongs. In the context of recommendation letters, it is essential to always be truthful about the character and qualifications of a former employee or student. 

  2. Nondiscrimination law — Nondiscrimination laws require that you do not disclose any discriminatory information about the candidate in the letter of recommendation. Information such as gender, race, and religion are irrelevant to the individual's character and qualifications. You may be liable for discrimination if you include such details in a letter of recommendation. 

  3. Libel laws — Libel is also a civil wrong. An employer who provides false information about the character or qualifications of an individual, which prevents them from getting an opportunity, is liable for defamation of character. Recommendation letters should be truthful.

  4. Right to access — Students have a right to access recommendation letters written in favor or against their interests when seeking to join an academic institution. Violating this right might lead to lawsuits unless the student waives their right to access their recommendation letter.

Warning

If you fire one of your employees for sexual misconduct and they come to you asking for a recommendation letter to secure another job, you may be liable for personal injury claims if that former employee perpetrates sexual misconduct in their new job and you wrote a positive recommendation letter. You have a legal and moral obligation to inform other individuals or institutions of the candidate's character, and even refusing to give a letter of recommendation can get you in trouble. 

Legal Disclaimer

Please note that Lawrina does not provide any legal services. The information on Lawrina’s Site and its downloadable content, including legal articles and templates, shall not be considered legal advice and is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, and up-to-date. If you require legal advice on your issue, we recommend you contact a qualified attorney licensed in your state. You personally assume full responsibility for any consequences, damages, and costs associated with your use of any content of Lawrina Services available on Lawrina’s Site. 

By using Lawrina’s Site you agree with mentioned above and give your irrevocable consent to comply with and to be bound by the provisions of Lawrina Service terms. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long should a letter of recommendation be?

The ideal length of each letter varies, but it should generally be three to five paragraphs long. 

How to request a letter of recommendation?

When asking for a letter of recommendation:

  • Identify potential references — Choose the most qualified professionals from your network to write the letter. Ask your manager or coworkers for letters of recommendation if they are for a potential job opportunity.
  • Describe your goals — Talk about your career goals with someone before asking them to write you a letter of recommendation. 
  • Provide context — Inform the person of your latest achievements and accomplishments and give an updated resume. It is helpful to use a letter of reference template.
How can I format a letter of recommendation?

A recommendation letter has three main parts:

  • Introduction — Provide the names of the author and applicant and the context within which you know each other. 
  • Body — Highlight the applicant's qualifications, competencies, and key achievements. Consider giving specific examples of how the applicant has demonstrated the attributes listed and applied their knowledge. 
  • Conclusion — Give any reservations about the applicant. If none, summarize the recommendation and express overall support for the applicant.