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How to Write a Letter of Recommendation (With Templates)

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How to Write a Letter of Recommendation (With Templates)

“Hey, I have a favor to ask,” sounds like the start of a request. Sometimes, you may receive a request through email. But the day will come when someone will ask you to write them a letter of recommendation. This is when a letter of recommendation template will be useful.

Before you say yes or no, know the letter’s purpose first. A letter of recommendation is intended to describe someone’s character, work ethic, and experience from a first-hand source.

There are many types of recommendation letters. There are letters for employment, college acceptance, scholarships, corporate or nonprofit board membership, and even community volunteerism.

Writing a glowing letter of recommendation takes time, thought, and planning. Do not agree to write one unless you can give it the detailed attention it requires. This is especially true for writing letters of recommendation for college and graduate school candidates. That’s why it is better to have a letter of recommendation template that you can follow to help you in writing one.

Quick Diagnostic

Ask yourself first if you are the right person to write the letter. Before saying yes, ask yourself:

  1. Am I a champion of that person’s work?
  2. Do I believe in their work ethic?

If you answered no to any of these questions, politely decline. The last thing you want to do is to damn the candidate with faint praise.

Don’t forget to ask for the time you need. Writing a good letter of recommendation takes a substantial amount of time. If the applicant asks you with less than a few days’ notice, it’s better to decline.

Employee Letter of Recommendation

You’ve decided to write a letter of recommendation. Now, be sure to make it compelling. You may have to review your files to see how much the employee contributed during their time at the company. Be sure to follow all legal obligations about what employers can and cannot say about an employee.

Write the letter of recommendation in a way that paints a picture of the employee in specific terms. If, for example, this employee is a people person who thrives in a team setting or more of a star who can take a project from start to finish with little direction, be sure to highlight that in your letter.

Format to Follow

Use this template when writing an employee letter of recommendation:

  • First paragraph – Who you are recommending and for what position, along with how you know the job candidate
  • Second paragraph – What your relationship is to the candidate, and what difference the candidate has made to the company, educational institution, or community organization
  • Third paragraph – A specific highlight of the candidate’s work and/or character
  • Closing paragraph – Your recommendation for the candidate for the position

Sample Letter of Recommendation

Below is a sample letter of recommendation to supplement an employee’s job application.

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January 3, 2021

Timothy Clemens, Head Groundskeeper
Oklahoma State University
1 University Way
Stillwater, OK 74074
tclemens@email.edu

Dear Mr. Clemens,

I am writing to highly recommend Seth Littlefield for the position of Assistant Groundskeeper at Oklahoma State University. I have worked with Seth for the past four years at my gardening center, Everything Gardening and More. I can honestly say that I have learned more from him than he has from me.

Seth came to work for me as a sales associate after just completing his horticulture degree at Wichita State University. He immediately proved to be a knowledgeable and dependable employee who always listened attentively and satisfied customers’ needs. But he became most valuable to the gardening center for his knowledge of xeriscape and drought-tolerant native plants.

Under Seth’s direction, we began to stock several water-conserving varieties for our customers. They have proven to be highly popular with our customers and helped set our garden center apart from the others. Seth provided workshops for the staff on the different varieties and he also took the initiative to plant a demonstration garden to show what an attractive landscape these plants make.

I believe Seth will be a valued addition to your groundskeeping crew and will bring a wealth of knowledge to the position. Please feel free to contact me if you have specific questions.

Sincerely,

Candace Meyers

Use company letterhead for your letter of recommendation, then scan and upload it as an email attachment if possible. Sending it by snail mail can slow the process.

Recommendation for College Admission

Strong letters of recommendation can help give a student’s college application a big boost but only if you know the student well. If not, then you are not the right person to write a letter, even if the student asked you directly.

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Many parents of high school students do not understand how an Admissions Director reads letters. The main criterion the Admissions Director looks for is how well you know the candidate. Admissions Directors can tell instantly if the writer has first-hand knowledge about the student. If you don’t, you are doing the family a disservice by agreeing to write the letter!

Before sitting down to craft the recommendation letter, request all the materials you need about the applicant. Ask for their transcript, a separate list of extracurricular or community activities, and which area of study the student intends to pursue. Above all, make sure you know why they are applying to that particular school or program. Make a date to sit down and interview the applicant (even if you know them very well already) to clarify and expand on the information provided.

In the letter, avoid general terms like “brilliant” and “studious.” Give a specific example of a time you know about first-hand when the candidate displayed their brilliance or studiousness. Also, avoid exaggeration. They may play the piano, but chances are that the applicant is not the next Mozart or Bach.

Realize that your letter cannot tell the whole story about an applicant. Use your letter to shine a light on one aspect of that student’s suitability for that college or university. Your letter should offer fresh insights into the candidate’s personality, especially their suitability for the program.

Finally, never agree to show your letter of recommendation to the student or their parents. If they demand to see it, decline to write it.

Sample Letter of Recommendation

Below is a sample letter of recommendation for a student’s application to a college.

October 30, 2020

Dear Emory University Dean of Admissions,

I highly recommend Alonso Dominguez for your freshman class of 2021. He is a top science and math student and an integral part of our school community. I currently teach him AP Chemistry at Northfield High School. Alonso is an A+ Chemistry student. Beyond that, I consider him an amazing intellect and a motivated problem-solver whose thoughtful questions elevate the learning of the entire class.

Alonso excels in science because he pays attention to details and patterns. He is comfortable applying strong mathematical skills to chemistry problems to arrive at solutions to complex problems. While many students try to memorize when to use a specific equation, Alonso intuits when to apply equations and understands what the given values actually mean. I am often pleasantly surprised to find that Alonso has solved a problem using a viable method that is different from the one I introduced. His grasp of the reasons behind the patterns and equations is a valuable skill that will benefit Alonso in his future mathematical and scientific pursuits.

As both a natural and unassuming scholar, other students gravitate toward Alonso when forming lab groups. He is a good coach and has a vivacious and magnetic personality. I regularly use Alonso’s work as a model for students who are struggling.

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I could not be more confident that Alonso Dominguez will excel at Emory just as he has here at Northfield High because of his impressive intellect and motivation to achieve at a high level. I know that Emory University is among his top school choices because of its strong Chemistry program, and I believe Emory will benefit greatly with Alonso as part of its student community.

Sincerely,

Evelyn Sloan
Chemistry Teacher
Northfield High School

Always try to find out the name of the Dean of Admissions and his or her specific title. Ideally, the candidate should provide that to you along with the Dean’s contact information.

Recommendation for Community Board Membership

Similar to academic and job-related letters of recommendation, writing to recommend a friend or colleague for community volunteerism or board membership is a deft combination of extolling the candidate’s particular expertise and character traits. This requires a slightly different letter of recommendation template compared to other types.

Ask the candidate to provide you with background material and explanations regarding job and volunteer history, including any experience with the issue that the organization addresses. Focus on why the person is interested in serving in the position and what they can bring to the organization. Also, know to whom you should address the letter.

Sample Letter of Recommendation

Here’s a sample letter of recommendation for membership to a board of directors.

December 1, 2020

Karen Waters
Wilderness Pursuits
7654 County Road 88
Prescott, AZ 86301

Dear Ms. Waters,

I am honored to write this letter on behalf of Letisha Davis, an outstanding leader and champion of disenfranchised youth, for membership on your board of directors. I’ve known Letisha for 10 years, first in our professional capacities and not long after, as a personal friend who I look up to for her inspiring and dynamic personality.

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I met Letisha through my work as a physician’s assistant at the Mesa County Health Clinic. I discovered that she offered some pro bono therapy for young people and met with her to arrange treatment for one of our patients. After witnessing the transformation of this young person, I often refer patients to Letisha.

After her own experience in an Outward Bound program as a young person, Letisha is passionate about introducing troubled young people to the outdoors. She has applied her degree in counseling and family therapy to work with nonprofit organizations that offer an outdoor component. This includes work with Nature’s Way Youth Program and Inner Warrior’s Way in Mesa County as a trip counselor and with Outward Bound’s Wilderness Drug Rehab Program as an advisor.

Letisha can offer perspectives as both a clinician and a program designer to the board of Wilderness Pursuits. Her kind-hearted and friendly demeanor makes her a delight to work with, and in every encounter with Letisha, I have been impressed by her sound ideas, open mind, and positive attitude.

I am certain that Wilderness Pursuits will benefit significantly with a person of Letisha’s professional caliber and outstanding character on its board. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about Letisha’s qualifications.

Sincerely,

Theodore Soto
Physician’s Assistant, Mesa County Public Health

Stay on Point

As with all letters of recommendation, it’s not about the length—it’s the strength. These letter of recommendation templates can help you start writing one. Four to five paragraphs, with a few telling examples, will be sufficient to make your case for a deserving candidate.

Finally, know that what goes around comes around. Today, you’re the one being asked to sacrifice your time to write a great letter of recommendation. Put care into it, for tomorrow you may be the one asking someone else to write a letter recommending you. Good letter-recommendation karma begets good karma.

More Tips for Writing a Letter of Recommendation

Featured photo credit: Scott Graham via unsplash.com

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Vicky Oliver

Author of 6 best-selling books on job-hunting and job interview questions, business etiquette, frugalista style, advertising, and office politics.

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Last Updated on January 27, 2022

12 Reasons Why You Should Consider Working in Singapore

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12 Reasons Why You Should Consider Working in Singapore

Nine out of 10 foreign workers are satisfied with working in Singapore, a recent governmental survey reports. Being ranked best for numerous criteria from best intellectual property protection laws to the easiest country to do business in, Singapore also receives a bunch of accolades for the overall quality of life, top education standards and efficient medical system, ranking the nation as the healthiest in the world. So, what exactly makes the City of Lions such an impeccable place to start your career or relocate your business? Here are just 12 reasons why you should consider doing it!

1. Singapore ranks second as the most globalized economy in the world

The Global Competitiveness Report 2014 – 2015 named Singapore as the world’s second prospering economy. By defining “competitiveness” as the set of institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country, the report claims to be the most authoritative assessment of the country’s prosperity and well-being. What does that mean for you and me? High wages, low unemployment rate, excellent work conditions and nourishing business development and investment climate.

2. Salaries are extremely lucrative

As the economy is booming, Singapore companies are hungry to acquire overseas specialists, offering top salaries and lucrative benefit packages to attract highly-skilled workers and talents. With a median salary of 3.500$ per month, software engineers can earn up to 72.000$ annually, whereas general practitioners usually receive around 80.000$ per year, according to PayScale. Elementary school teachers earn around 34.000$ per year and working as a waitress part time will bring you around 1100$ per month.

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3. Progressive personal tax system

Calculating and paying taxes in Singapore is extremely easy and usually takes around 30 seconds to submit your online tax return. If you already obtained a residence permit, your personal taxes in Singapore range from 0% if you earn less than S$ 22.000 per year to 20% for incomes above S$ 320,000. Non-residents are expected to pay a flat rate of 15% from all income gained in Singapore. In addition, all of your earnings gained overseas and brought to the country are not subjected to any taxes.

4. Getting a work/residence permit is really easy…

With a population of only five million, and dropping fertility rates, Singapore is highly interested in acquiring new residence and labor force to boost the country’s economy to soaring heights. If you already have a job offer secured, applying for a work permit would take only a few clicks on the governmental website and you will know the outcome within just one day. No lines, no paper bureaucracy and no huge list of supportive documents or blankly stated requirements. Their entire procedure is even simpler if you are a business owner wishing to relocate your business to Singapore, or a start-up entrepreneur wishing to develop your company within the island. You are likely to receive your work permit for a longer term, plus the renewal process is fast and simple. Residence permits are usually issued along with your work permit for the same period of time.

5. …And the same with permanent residence status

If you have lived and worked in Singapore for over a year and enjoyed your experience, you can start considering applying for a permanent resident card. Again, the whole process can be done online without much hassle or paperwork involved. Among the factors of a successful outcome, expats name young age (below 50), educational background (degrees obtained in Singaporean universities will earn you extra points), the industry you work in (again extra points to those who are involved in scientific research and working with innovative technologies), and your ability to speak one of the four languages. The processing time does take up to six months.

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6. The adaptation process goes easy

As English in the main working language you won’t experience the dreaded language barrier. The local society is an absolute melting pot of Chinese, Malay, Indian and British cultures with 42% of population being foreigners. There is a huge amount of expat communities and meet-ups, restaurants serving awesome foods from all over the world, and imported goods you are used to buying back at home. As expats say, “Singaporeans are generally very comfortable with diversity and have been very welcoming to foreigners” with rare case of racism or religion discrimination occurring. There are numerous international and English schools available, along with pre-school daycare centers, so your kids won’t experience much troubles either when changing environments.

7. Top notch higher education

If at any stage you feel like lacking relevant educational background or certain skills to get a promotion, you should consider getting a degree in one of the six Singapore universities. National University of Singapore currently ranks number one in Asia and 22nd in the world offering degrees in Arts, Law, Medicine, Computer Sciences, Public Policy and nearly any other profession in demand. Tuition fees for undergraduate programs range from S$ 28.600 to S$ 129,200 for medical degrees. However, all students (foreign or resident) can apply for governmental grants and tuition aid, cutting down the costs by 50%, as currently around 20% of government spendings go into education. If you are aiming at a top executive position, getting an MBA in Singapore will cost you S$ 58,000 full-time or part-time.

8. It takes three days to open a business

Being ranked #1 for the ease of doing businesses by World Bank consequently for seven (!!!) years, starting your business in Singapore is easy and fast indeed. The whole process is done online and your registration will be deemed completed within a few hours after you pay a registration fee of the S$65. Afterwards, you can either refer for further assistance to ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority) offering you a huge selection of agencies and providers to handle all your business needs – from business start-up services to preparing all the documents for your annual returns.

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9. Singapore is rated #1 as the best labor force in the world

As your business grows and you feel it is time to expand, hiring new professional team won’t be much of a struggle. With expats and work migrants flooding the market, local labors are known for their effectiveness, strong work ethics and superb educational profiles. Filling in top executives and managerial positing will not be a problem either as the share of high-skilled professionals with relevant background rose from 27% in 2003 to 31% in 2013. Moreover, 25% of residents reported to have worked for the same company for 10 years, which means less personnel changes and headhunting.

10. Low crime rates and zero corruption

Currently ranked the 5th least corrupted country in the world, Singapore surpassed a long chain of reforms and law enforcement practices on the road to a bribe-free society. The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau has kept an eye on matters since 1952 and tries all cases according to strict Singapore laws with long-term jail sentences and huge fines up to S$ 100,000. Same goes towards any sort of crimes–even minor offenses are treated with extreme severity. Think: three months of jail and three hard cane strokes for painting graffiti on a war memorial. When living and working in Singapore you don’t need to worry about your belongings getting stolen, nor your life threatened. Besides, you don’t need to have any sort of “special connections” to do business and get through all the legal and bureaucratic procedures.

11. You can become a millionaire in less than 10 years

According to a recent report issued by Boston Consulting Group, over one half of wealthy Singaporeans accumulated the majority of their wealth in less than 10 years. That’s the quickest growing rate in the world. Now, Singapore boasts one of the highest millionaires’ density in the world with 8.8% of the population having assets over one million US dollars. The phenomenon exists due to the ease of doing businesses in Singapore, advantageous location with easy access to nearby booming markets of India, Indonesia and Malaysia and quick implementation of progressive new technologies.

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12. Absolute political stability

Obviously, your business and you as an employee do not exist in a vacuum and are highly dependent on governmental policies and law-making. The Singaporean government is known for conducting open and fair policy towards constantly introducing new laws, tax relieves, and regulations to enhance the countries’ business environment even more. With the People Action’s Party forming the majority in Parliament since 1965, Singapore has a very stable and orderly government indeed.

Featured photo credit: Larry Teo via unsplash.com

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