There are many reasons someone could ask you for a recommendation letter. Scholarships, professional designations, and job offers are often contingent on endorsements from others. No doubt you’re interested in helping, but how will you decide on your recommendation letter format? Giving attention to the right details and to what people expect can make a big difference as to how others receive it.
Good formatting adds clout to a recommendation letter. Poor choices in regards to fonts, text size, and colors could result in the recipient not taking the content seriously. How long should the document be? What types of facts should you include in the content? Follow our guide to understand the ins and outs of recommendation letters. You too can tap into your creative side and prepare a moving piece.
Recommendation Letter Format
Jay Vanderheide was working as a customer support manager at an outsourcing company and delivered the news that their contract would terminate in two weeks. Sean Griffin was a specialist in the group. He maintained one of the highest survey scores and helped with many special projects. Now, some weeks have passed since the layoff. Sean landed an interview at another company and asked Jay for a recommendation letter. Here is what Jay came up with:
How many former members of your staff would you hire back in an instant?
For three years, Sean Griffin was part of my group at Race BPO. Down to the smallest detail, Sean showed a professionalism that is rare in the industry. His attendance and punctuality were impeccable. He is truly helpful and the type of person to whom you can entrust any task. I’d like to provide a couple of examples:
• Daily work. Sean approached his backlog by prioritizing cases and concentrating on getting to the root of problems wherever possible. When a solution or workaround was available, he’d suggest it to the caller right away. Even when Sean didn’t have an immediate answer, he’d stay in touch until he could follow through with the customer’s request.
• Onboarding and training. Sean was proactive and enthusiastic about helping with some of our department’s special needs. For a time, our team was on a hiring spree, and we spent countless hours on training. Sean developed a standardized curriculum that new employees could work through during their first few days on the job. He also provided ongoing, personalized help to new hires.
I highly recommend Sean to join your team. Please get in touch if there’s anything else you’d like to know about my experiences with Sean.
Is This a Good Recommendation Letter Format? Let’s Check
1. Were the letter’s formatting and salutations professional?
Absolutely. The piece employed greetings that are common in the business world. The jobseeker researched the company he was applying with and made note of the hiring manager’s name so that his former manager could include it in the letter. You may also have noticed that while the writer produced content with a professional voice, it also had a conversational tone. It was proofread to avoid spelling and grammar errors. The spacing, color, and font choices contributed to its readability.
2. Did the document draw attention to some of the jobseeker’s specific strengths?
It most certainly did. The former manager started out by mentioning some of the candidate’s skills in general terms, then expounded on them in the bulleted sections. The writer was wise to focus his letter on the candidate’s strengths, rather than mention details regarding the layoff. This kept an emphasis on the jobseeker’s qualifications and how they could benefit his future employer.
3. Did the letter avoid exaggerating any of the candidate’s qualities?
Yes, you probably noticed the sincere writing style. While the former manager employed descriptive language, he didn’t get carried away with using an excessive amount of adjectives. When people want to help others, they may naturally include flowery words. Be cautious, however, and avoid generic terms such as “extensive” or “team player” in your recommendation letter format. Stick to specific descriptions rather than vague declarations.
4. Did the content include personality traits and soft skills?
Yes, it did. The manager alluded to the individual contributor’s attitude in many of the descriptions. This helped make the candidate’s positivity and enthusiasm shine through. Although the writer didn’t specifically mention cooperation and integrity, it’s easy to see that the jobseeker possesses such qualities. Soft skills and emotional intelligence are important to most employers, so think of how you can point out such traits when you recommend others.
5. Was the letter kept to a concise length?
Definitely. The writer kept the document’s main content to a couple of paragraphs. Thus, when saving or printing the letter, it shouldn’t use up more than one page. Keep your recommendation brief, even if the jobseeker has many years of experience. Think of it as an introduction, meant to encourage the reader to interview and/or hire the individual.
The Most Important Recommendation Letter Format Takeaways
When you enjoy working with others, talking about their good points comes naturally. As you’ve been able to see, though, you need focus to get your recommendation letter format right. Use language appropriate for business. Avoid colors and odd fonts in your document. Draw attention to the candidate’s strengths that apply to the target job, and try to address your letter to an actual person.
Rather than write a novel, keep your piece to a short page. As the example shows, end your letter with an invitation to contact you for more information. Be sure to proofread it before you share it with the jobseeker. Although it doesn’t take long to write an effective recommendation letter, an impressive endorsement can help someone immensely.