A letter of recommendation is a statement that supports a candidate for employment, educational studies or other opportunities by giving a well-documented evaluation with an emphasis on the candidate's personal characteristics, experience, capabilities and strengths. Letters of recommendation should be about a page in length and include an opening, body and closing.
Recommendation letters should open with an explanation of the relationship between the writer and the candidate. It may be helpful to include the experience shared with the candidate, the length of the relationship, and the time period in which that relationship occurred.
After establishing the relationship with the candidate, the body of the letter should be written. In the body, include specific information that tells the recipient more about the candidate. This could include personal characteristics or specific areas where the candidate holds special experiences or great strengths. Close the letter with a brief summary that clearly explains why the candidate is being recommended for the opportunity she is seeking.
Letters should be to the point and specific. Include concrete examples of times when the candidate displayed individual qualities that effectively demonstrate her capabilities. Detailed experiences illustrate the candidate more effectively. Explain how the candidate stands apart from others that may be seeking the same opportunity. Remember that a letter of recommendation must be honest and portray a realistic picture of the candidate. Make sure that the information provided is specific to the position for which the candidate is applying. For example, while some characteristics or skills may be helpful for a job in education, those same qualities may not help a candidate applying for a job in culinary arts.