Tips To Request and Write a Letter of Recommendation

Having someone who can vouch for your qualifications and personal character can make potential employers more likely to consider you for a role. Most job applications allow an opportunity to list references who can attest to your capabilities as an employee. A letter of recommendation validates your work, skills or academic performance. You may be reaching out to a reference for a recommendation or you may be the person asked to write the letter.

What is a letter of recommendation?

A letter of recommendation is a formal document that addresses your suitability for a particular position. They differ from standard references that are often a casual conversation by email or phone. Former managers, supervisors or mentors are typically the most appropriate people to ask for a letter of recommendation since they have established working relationships with you and can attest to your strengths as an employee.

An honest recommendation details a personal account of your experiences with the applicant. You should have knowledge of how the candidate acts and performs in a work environment. Consider the following before you accept a request for a recommendation:

If you do not have enough experience with or positive comments to share about the applicant, let them know quickly and respectfully that you aren’t able to fulfill the request. This gives the candidate plenty of time to find an alternative solution.

How to request a recommendation letter

At some point, you may need to request a recommendation letter. Consider asking former managers, colleagues, teachers, mentors, clients or vendors for verification of your skills, traits and work ethic. This should also be someone you’ve had a positive working relationship with who can thoughtfully discuss your skills and abilities.

Speak with them first about your request, then send a formal email with more details. Include your resume, job description, submission details and requested deadline. You might also send them the template that’s included below. This can help lessen their workload and make them more likely to agree to your request. Make your request at least two weeks before the letter is due to give ample time to complete the letter as they may be working on several at the same time.

Table of Contents

The individual selected to provide the recommendation should be a well-respected source, one whom the applicant has worked directly under for a significant period of time. Alternatively, a friend, colleague, neighbor, or family member can be used to provide a more personal, character reference; however, offering insight from a professional standpoint is the ideal. It is important that the person selected can provide an honest assessment of the character and work ethic of the individual seeking employment, they should be able to supply specific anecdotes and examples which speak to the employee’s integrity. A recommendation letter should only be written if a great one can be provided, otherwise, it could have an adverse effect and ultimately be detrimental to the applicant’s chances of getting hired.

There are exceptions: If you are a student or recently have been in school, do not have recent work experience, or do not have relevant work experience, a professor or other personal contact might be a better choice to write the recommendation.

Sample character reference letter for a friend

Sample Character Reference Letter (Text Version)

I couldn’t be happier to recommend my close personal friend, Bianca Jones, for the open wait staff position at the Italian Pasta House. I have known Bianca for 8 years and can confidently say that she is a person of impeccable character.

Since we first met, Bianca’s incredible friendliness and interpersonal skills have always impressed me. I remember one instance in particular when she accidentally bumped into an angry man who subsequently began spouting curses at her. She utilized her exceptional ability to remain calm in the face of confrontation to diffuse the situation with a warm smile and a sincere apology.

More importantly, everyone who interacts with Bianca is always blown away by her selfless, kind, and warm-hearted nature. Whenever there is any need for volunteers in our town, Bianca always enthusiastically signs up without the slightest hesitation, eager to help in any way she can.

It is truly a privilege and an honor to be considered Bianca’s friend, and I wholeheartedly recommend her for this position. I assure you that her commitment to her professional career, as well as her high moral values, are without question. I have no doubt she will make a strong addition to your team. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


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