Writing Assignment: Write A Letter of Recommendation

by Randy Murray on September 13, 2013

I can talk about myself all day long, but it’s more difficult to talk about others and recommend them for work.

And it’s even more difficult to write about others.

Why? I think it’s because we know how we want to present ourselves to the world, but it’s a powerful responsibility to recommend another person for a job, position, or opportunity. A recommendation is a document about credibility: both your credibility and that of the person you’re writing about. It’s very difficult to do this in the space available on a single piece of paper.

I’ve managed a lot of people over the years and hired many, many people. I know what I look for when I read a letter of recommendation. A good recommendation includes:

  • A clear statement that the writer is strongly positive about the person they are recommending.
  • A brief explanation of the writer’s and recommended’s relationship. Where did they work together and what did they achieve? How do they know this person?
  • Details about the recommended’s special qualities and qualifications.
  • A clear endorsement: you should hire this person because . . .
  • And an offer to provide more information.

A weak recommendation gets the letter tossed back on the pile with the other candidates. A strong recommendation makes me pay closer attention. Writing great recommendations is an important skill to have as a manager and supporter of your co-workers. Learn to write great recommendation letters and you’ll prove yourself a valuable colleague and friend.

For today’s assignment, write a one page recommendation for a friend who is seeking a new job. Include the details that I’ve listed above in the order I’ve specified. Pick someone you know and respect and make them the subject of this letter. Use real examples and details.

Writing a recommendation isn’t necessarily easy, but doing it well could mean the difference between getting the job and continuing the job search. This is another example of where clear writing can make a big difference in peoples’ lives. Learn to do this well.

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