Whether you’ve been asked to write a letter of recommendation for a student or colleague, or you need a letter of recommendation yourself, deciding exactly what to include can be tricky.
Maybe you’re busy, and don’t have much time to spend on the letter. Perhaps you’re not that close to the person asking you for the letter – what does she work on again? Fear not. This article will help you to write an amazing letter of recommendation with very little effort.
Before you start, first consider letting the person asking to write it himself
Not all letters of recommendation were actually written by the person who signed them. In fact, it’s actually pretty common for employees to write their own letter of recommendation, simply giving it to their boss to read through and sign off.
There are a few key reasons why writing your own letter of recommendation is a good idea:
- You know your own work better than anyone.
- You can tailor the letter to include points you know will be relevant to your future career.
- Your boss/teacher might not have time to write a thorough letter – you do.
So, if someone’s asked you for a letter, why not propose letting them write it themselves? At the very least, ask them for a few points on what they’d like you to include, as well as some details on what they plan to use the letter for. This makes the whole process much quicker and easier.
One teacher said this about the experience of asking her students to write their own recommendation letters :
They can write a much stronger letter than I ever could about their performance.
The beautifully constructed and thoughtful letters that they produce on their own behalf are always mind-blowing.
If you really need to write it, read on…
If having the person who needs the letter write it themselves isn’t an option, don’t worry. We’ve summarized the key points that should be included in an employer recommendation letter and a character recommendation letter below.
Key points for an employer recommendation letter
For employer recommendation letter, specific details that can highlight the person’s key strengths are always favoured. Check these things
- Your employee’s job title
- Length of employment
- Key achievements while working for you
- Skills, experience and personal attributes that make the person a strong employee
- The reason you agreed to write the letter
- Details on how to get in touch with you for questions
Here’s an example of a great letter of recommendation. 
This letter gives details on exactly what the employee did, what her key strengths were, and why she’d be a valuable asset to another employer. It mentions her personality as well as her professional experience, creating a well-rounded picture.
Key points for a character reference letter
A character reference letter focuses on personality and will look a little different to an employer reference letter. Check out the list of key points to include below.
- How you know the person (friend, co-worker, family member, business partner, etc).
- Positive personality traits the person possesses, with examples if possible. For example, ‘Kate is very organized and caring – she runs a charity fundraiser every year.’
- Key skills. For example, ‘Joe is great with animals and often cares for my pets while I’m away.’
- The reason you agreed to write the letter.
- Details on how to get in touch with you for questions.
Check out this example for further inspiration. 
This letter is great because it gives lots of details om Jane’s strength, clearly explains the author’s relationship to Jane, and gives examples to back up the points made.
Don’t despair next time you’re asked for a letter of recommendation. Either ask the person to help out by writing it themselves, or follow the simple formula above to easily write an excellent letter.
|||^||The Huffington Post: If You Need a Letter of Recommendation, Write Your Own|
|||^||thebalance: Reference Letter Samples From an Employee’s Manager|
|||^||thebalance: Character Reference Letter Example and Tips|