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Letter of recommendation template

Use this letter of recommendation template to give references to a former student or a former team member. Tailor this sample to fit your feedback on that specific person. This letter may also be called “employee reference letter.”

Nobody likes a blank page when they’re asked to write a letter of recommendation – even if you have a lot to say, you might need some help to put your thoughts in order. We created a template to get you started and compiled some tips on how to flesh out your own letter.

What is a letter of recommendation?

A recommendation letter is a brief recount of your experience or acquaintance with someone, usually a former student or employee, where you praise their performance or personality. This person might ask your for a reference letter when applying to a job or a university.

Since your former student or employee asked you for a letter of recommendation, they’ll probably expect you to give positive feedback on their work. If you’re not sure whether you can actually recommend them, or if you don’t remember your interactions with them too well, you could let them know you’re unable to send a letter at this point.

How to write a letter of recommendation

So, what do you say in a letter of recommendation? Here’s an efficient process you can use from the start:

  1. Make sure you know the purpose of this letter.
  2. Think about the person asking the recommendation.
  3. Use our template to create the first draft of your letter.
  4. Shape the draft by cutting or adding information.

1. Know the purpose

What should be written in a letter of recommendation depends on the purpose of that letter. Is your former team member applying to a Master program, an internship, or a job? Who do you need to address the letter to and what will this person be most likely interested in?

The answers to these questions will help you include the right information. For example, if your former team member applies for an education program on machine learning, it’ll be more helpful if you included how well they did at a machine learning project under your supervision. Or, if you know that the job they wish to get requires leadership skills, give relevant examples, too.

If you don’t have this information, consider asking your former student or colleague for more details or choose more generic examples to include.

2. Think about the person asking for recommendation

It’s useful to refresh your memory on this person’s work or your own experiences with them. If they were a former student, they might have completed projects under your supervision. If they were a former team member, you could consult any available notes on their performance.

In general, try to answer these questions:

  • What was my working relationship with this person?
  • What projects did they work on under my supervision?
  • Do I remember two examples of good performance or positive attitude exhibited by that person?
  • What are two or three qualities I know this person has?
  • Is there anything that’s particularly impressive about this person or their knowledge?

Answers to these questions will help you shape your letter of recommendation.

3. Start with our template

Here are two templates to get you started, one for a former employee and one for a former student:

Letter of recommendation for employee

Dear [insert name],

I am writing to recommend [employee_name]. [He/ She] worked with us at [company_name] as a [employee_job_title] and [reported to me/ worked with me] in my position as [insert your job title].

As an employee, [employee_name] was always [insert quality]. During [his/her] time in my team, [he/she] managed to [insert example].

I’ve always put a premium on [insert quality] among my team members and [employee_name] never failed to deliver. An example was when [insert example].

[Employee_name] is a delight to work with and I wouldn’t hesitate to hire [him/her] again.

Should you have any further questions about [him/her], feel free to reach me at [phone number].

Thanks,

[Your name and signature]

Letter of recommendation for a former student

Dear [insert name],

I am writing to recommend [student_name]. I am [job_title] at [institution] and [student_name] was my [student/ PhD candidate/ lab assistant/ etc.] for [X months/ years].

As a student, [student_name] was always [insert quality]. During [his/her] time in my class, [he/she] worked on [insert projects] and managed to [insert example].

I’ve always put a premium on [insert quality] among my students and [student_name] never failed to deliver. An example was when [insert example].

[Student_name] is [insert personality attribute] and I wouldn’t hesitate to collaborate with [him/her] again.

Should you have any further questions about [him/her], feel free to reach me at [phone number].

Thanks,

[Your name and signature]

4. Personalize your draft

Our templates give you an outline of what you could include, but feel free to modify them or add as many examples as you think are important. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Flesh it out. Use one or two sentences to give context to each of your examples.
  • Use your own voice. Any piece of text will have more impact if it sounds natural and authentic.
  • Be honest. Your former employee or student may be asked about the examples you provided. Don’t embellish to make them look good since this may come out eventually.

For example, see a modified letter of recommendation sample for two cases (the information and names included are fictional):

Sample letter of reference for an employee

Dear Ms Edwards,

I am writing to recommend May Thompson. She worked with me at Acme Inc. as a Senior Sales Manager and reported to me in my position as VP of Sales.

As an employee, May was always reliable and resourceful. During her time in my team, she managed to build a strong sales team from scratch. Her team exceeded our annual goals on closed deals for three consecutive years. May also conducted high-impact customer research and made a number of key recommendations for our product positioning strategies.

I’ve always put a premium on leadership and problem-solving qualities among my team members and May never failed to deliver on both fronts. An example was how she motivated her team members with multiple fun competitions that she also used as coaching opportunities for more junior employees. She also helped resolve a major conflict between the sales and product team regarding features our customers were asking for.

May is a delight to work with – a team player with a positive, can-do attitude all the way. I wouldn’t hesitate to hire her again if the opportunity arose.

Should you have any further questions, feel free to reach me at +10000000.

Thanks,

Sarah Potter

VP of Sales, Acme Inc.

Letter of recommendation example for students

To the admissions office of MIT,

I am writing to recommend Luke Thompson for your PhD program in chemical engineering. I am a professor of chemical engineering at Acme University for over 15 years and I specialize in nanotechnology. Mr Thompson was my student for two years before he got his Bachelor’s degree from Acme.

As a student, Mr Thompson always possessed a curious mind and was eager to learn. During his time in my class, he worked on various projects where he conducted research on nanotechnology and biotechnology. His grades on all these projects were outstanding, as his papers were well-researched, well-structured and offered brilliant insights. One example is his project about nanosensors and their impact on the field of biomedicine. We submitted this paper to a conference held in Berlin and got immediately accepted.

I’ve always put a premium on initiative and hard work among my students and Mr Thompson never failed to deliver. An example was when he and a couple of other students organized learning sessions with different professors. In these open sessions, any student could ask questions on each professor’s field of expertise. Mr. Thompson was the one who suggested that these sessions could work as informal career orientation for younger college or high school students, too.

Mr Thompson is intelligent, hard working and has a great passion for the field of chemistry and chemical engineering. I wouldn’t hesitate to collaborate with him in an academic capacity.

Should you have any further questions about him, feel free to reach me at +1000000.

Thanks,

Professor Sally McPhee

These two letter of recommendation samples give you an idea of how you could shape your own reference letter. Whether it’s a letter of recommendation from employer or a letter of recommendation for students, our guide will make the process faster.

You can download the Letter of recommendation template word from the link below, or the recommendation letter template in pdf format.

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