Guidelines for Writing Recommendation Letters
Writing a Letter
Agree to write a letter only if you can honestly
write a supportive letter. If you cannot portray an
individual positively or believe you do not know them
well enough to comment on their skills and abilities,
decline the request
Ask the student for a due date and have them provide
you with an addressed envelope.
Job Search Recommendations:
Ask for a current resume and a position description
of the type of position the applicant is seeking.
Ask for a summary of the candidate's professional goals.
Graduate School Search Recommendations:
Ask for a current resume, a copy of their
personal statement, and any criteria requested by the
graduate/professional school program (i.e. a specific
recommendation form or a questionnaire).
Begin the letter by describing how you know the
individual. For how long? In what situations have you
worked with or observed the individual?
What is your evaluation of the candidate's capabilities
and suitability to the profession? Identify key areas
such as work performance, management and research abilities,
leadership qualities, cross-cultural and interpersonal
skills and, for graduate school recommendations, their
ability to do research and scholarly work. It
is best to provide specific examples as evidence of
the candidate's abilities.
Offer a "big picture" of the candidate's overall
promise and potential.
Try to differentiate and highlight the candidate's
specific and individual strengths.
Don't be too brief, provide relevant information
and provide examples of candidate's successes.
State your own qualifications as they relate to
the profession, organization or program.
In most cases, a letter of recommendation is one
page with up to four paragraphs
Recommendations should be printed on a high quality
printer on UW-L letterhead and signed.
Consider providing the candidate with a copy of
the recommendation for their files.
Keep a copy of the recommendation for your records.
Ask the student to update you on the process.
resources from the National Association of Colleges and