How to Write a Letter of Recommendation (Examples & Templates)

Calendar Icon
April 24, 2024
Edited by
Camille Trent
Clock Icon
min read

3 key takeaways

  • A letter of recommendation is a formal part of many job applications.
  • Effective letters of recommendation follow a structured format (steps below).
  • Teal's AI Resume Builder helps you write a keyword-rich resume and cover letter to complement your recommendation letter.

Whether you’re applying to a job, graduate school, or a degree program, there will come a time when you need a letter of recommendation. At such a time, the recommender may ask for your help drafting the letter. 

Or you may be on the other side of the equation. You may need to write a letter of recommendation on someone’s behalf, such as a former employee, a coworker, or a friend.

No matter your situation, this guide helps you understand how to write a letter of recommendation for many different scenarios, plus detailed examples to use as references.

The purpose of a letter of recommendation

A letter of recommendation is a formal written document that discusses a candidate's professional performance, specifically their abilities, character, work ethic, or achievements. It is written by someone who can vouch for you, such as a professional contact. 

It's commonly requested when applying for jobs, educational programs, scholarships, or similar opportunities. It’s intended to help the recipient of the letter evaluate your qualifications.

They are more common in some situations than in others. College applications, on the other hand, typically require one to three letters of recommendation. Job applications typically require a list of references that the hiring manager may call or email, rather than request letters of recommendations.

They are particularly valuable for those who do not have robust resumes or credentials. That said, if you’re just entering the job market—why not consider compiling a recommendation letter straight away? Even if the job application doesn’t specifically ask for one, requesting recommendations can help strengthen your application. 

But here’s the thing: because they’re not as common as other job application documents, not everyone knows how to write an impressive letter of recommendation. In this article you’ll learn how to write an effective letter of recommendation, tailored to your target job. 

Who can write a letter of recommendation

A recommendation letter should be written by someone who can verify your qualifications. Ideally, it comes from a superior rather than a coworker or friend. While you may be tempted to ask a buddy, be aware that the hiring manager may ask you to specify your relationship with the recommender. 

In the workforce, you may want to ask a former manager or supervisor. In an academic setting, you may want to ask a former instructor, teacher, or mentor. In either case, the recommendation should come from someone who knows you in a professional setting and can attest to your work ethic.

For applicants

If you are deciding who to ask for a recommendation letter, consider these factors:

  • Is the person relevant to the opportunity you're applying for? For example, if you’re applying to a software engineering internship, can you ask a previous employer who can speak to your performance or a mentor who has guided you through coding challenges?
  • How well does the person know you? Someone who can mention real-world examples is better than someone who would provide vague or general feedback. 
  • Do you have a positive relationship with this person? Sometimes a letter of recommendation is given in private to the person reviewing the application and you may not get a chance to review it before it's sent. That’s why it’s vital to only ask someone you are confident will provide a positive reference.

Letter of recommendation etiquette

No matter who you choose, always make it as easy as possible for your recommender to write the letter. Be sure to give them ample time to write the letter, such as two week’s notice. 

In addition, you can provide the materials they may need to write a tailored letter for you. For example, you could send them the job post or the organization’s website. Don’t be surprised if the person asks you to create a draft or provide bullet points for the letter. This will help save the recommender the time of researching what to say—then they can simply make edits and give the final send-off.

Want help matching your letter of recommendation to the job post? Teal’s AI-powered Resume Builder Matching Mode pulls key skills from job descriptions to help you easily tailor your letter to the job you’re applying for and an AI achievement generator to summarize your results. 

Match keywords from the job description to your resume

For the letter writer

If you have been asked to write a letter of recommendation, consider these factors: 

  • Has the applicant directly worked with you or for you?
  • Is your experience with the application relevant to the opportunity they are applying for? 
  • Can you provide an honest and ethical assessment of the individual?
  • Can you provide a letter within the stated deadline?

If you can’t provide a positive reference based on experience with the applicant, quickly let them know you can’t fulfill their request so they have time to find someone else. If you can, here's how to do it right:

How to write a letter of recommendation (with specific examples)

While they may vary in type, such as academic, professional, and personal, the structure is standard and straightforward—very similar to a business letter format.

Greeting: A formal salutation. Example: To Whom It May Concern

Introduction: Your name, expertise, and your relationship to the applicant.

Overview: A general summary of the applicant's strengths as you've experienced them.

Example: A story or example that elaborates on one to two traits the applicant possesses.

Close: A summary of why you recommend the applicant.

Signature: Your name, title, signature or e-signature, and contact details 

1. A greeting

Begin the letter with a formal salutation, addressing the recipient if possible. 

Example: Intro

  • Dear [Recipient's Name]
  • To Whom It May Concern
  • Dear Hiring Committee

2. A brief introduction 

Introduce yourself and your relationship to the individual. The first paragraph states why you’re qualified to speak about the person.

Example: Job applicant applying to an associate attorney position

I am writing to offer my enthusiastic endorsement for Breanna Johnson for the position of Associate Attorney at Thompson & Sons Associates Law Firm. During her time as an associate attorney at our firm, I had the privilege of mentoring Breanna and witnessing her growth and dedication firsthand.

3. An overview

The next paragraph provides an overview of the applicant's strengths as you've experienced them. The context will differ depending on whether the letter of recommendation is written for a job, academic, or other opportunity. Take a look at the specific examples below. 

Based on the candidate's skills

If the applicant is applying to a job, you’ll most likely want to discuss their skills and achievements. 

Example: Job applicant applying to a marketing position

During his time at Bright Ideas Inc., Mark consistently demonstrated a rare blend of creativity, strategic thinking, and problem-solving skills that set him apart. His one-of-a-kind marketing campaigns drove considerable results for our clients and garnered praise from our team and stakeholders. 

Want help creating a list of achievements to highlight on your letter of recommendation? Teal’s AI-powered Resume Builder Matching Mode pulls key skills from job descriptions to quickly create metric-rich achievements tailored to the job application, so you stand out from the crowd.

Based on the applicant’s character

Wondering how to write a letter of recommendation for a friend or coworker? In the case that you can’t speak on their skills, you can tailor this section toward the applicant’s personality. This may be considered a character reference letter.

Example: College applicant, written by a friend from school

Throughout our academic journey, Rachel consistently prioritized her studies, earning valedictorian and a spot as the school treasurer. Beyond her academic pursuits, Rachel has always been deeply involved in community service. Whether it was volunteering at the local soup kitchen, participating in school plays, or leading student organizations, Rachel's commitment to making a positive difference in the world has been inspiring.

4. A personal story

This section is intended for the recommender to elaborate on one to two traits of the applicant. This can help hiring managers have a more colorful understanding of your expertise.

It’s important to tailor those traits to the skills needed to land the opportunity. The context will differ depending on whether a recommendation letter is written for a job, academic, or other opportunity. Take a look at the examples below. 

Based on the applicant’s skills

As the writer, you can share an example about a time when the applicant's skills helped the company achieve something or solve a problem.

Example: Job applicant, applying to a recruitment role

Last year, we faced a demanding task: filling a critical position for one of our top clients under tight deadlines. Emily approached this challenge with precision. She conducted extensive research using LinkedIn Recruiter and her networking resources to identify potential candidates. Despite initial hesitations from the hiring manager, Emily confidently advocated for a standout candidate, who was later hired.

Based on the applicant’s academic abilities

Wondering how to write a letter of recommendation for grad school or for college? Use this section to talk about their academic performance.

5. A closing statement 

Conclude with a one- to two-sentence summary on why the person you're recommending would be a good fit for the opportunity.

Example: closing statement

"I am certain she would be a valuable asset for your project."

6. A signature 

As with any letter, you must sign off. Optionally, include contact information for the hiring manager to follow up with you.

Example: Signature

[Your Name, Company, and Title]

Recommendation letter dos and don'ts

Recommendation letter dos and don'ts
Dos and don'ts for a letter of recommendation.

Letter of recommendation templates

Below, you’ll find some letter of recommendation examples. Use these letters of recommendation templates as samples to expand upon. Add specific examples, make it your own, and voila!

How to write a letter of recommendation for a student

You may want to write a letter of recommendation for college, grad school, or a student entering an organization. Here’s a letter of recommendation template for that.

Dear Admissions Committee,

I am pleased to write this letter of recommendation for [Student's Name], who has applied for admission to your esteemed university. As a [Job Title] at [University Name], I have had the privilege of working closely with [Student's Name] and have been consistently impressed by [his/her/their] dedication, leadership skills, and academic achievements.

During [his/her/their] time at [University Name], [Student's Name] pursued a degree in business while actively contributing to campus life through [his/her/their] involvement in [list of extracurricular activities].

Like many students, [Student's Name] faced the daunting task of navigating [his/her/their] academic and career paths. Yet, instead of focusing solely on [his/her/their] own journey, [he/she/they] selflessly volunteered [his/her/their] time to support [his/her/their] peers in doing the same as my career adviser assistant.

With [his/her/their] empathetic nature and natural leadership abilities, [he/she/they] became a trusted mentor, helping students discover their strengths, set goals, and develop strategies to achieve them. Whether it was reviewing resumes, conducting mock interviews, or offering advice on internship opportunities, [Student's Name] approached every interaction with enthusiasm and genuine care.

I have no doubt that [Student's Name] will continue to excel academically, athletically, and personally at [University Name], and I enthusiastically recommend [him/her/them] for admission to your institution.

Please feel free to contact me at [Your Contact Information] if you require any further information or would like to discuss [Student's Name]'s qualifications in more detail.

Thank you for considering [Student's Name]'s application.


[Your Name]
[Your Position]
[University Name]

How to write a letter of recommendation for an employee

Dear [Recipient's Name],

I am writing to wholeheartedly recommend [Employee's Name] for any future opportunities [he/she/they] may pursue. As [his/her/their] supervisor in the Marketing Department at [Company Name], I have had the privilege of witnessing [his/her/their] exceptional contributions and dedication to our team's success.

During [his/her/their] tenure with us, [Employee's Name] played a pivotal role in driving significant improvements in our marketing initiatives. One notable achievement was [specific project or task], which led to an increase in [specific metric, e.g., website traffic, conversion rates, sales revenue] by [percentage or numerical value].

In addition to [his/her/their] remarkable performance in driving results, [Employee's Name] has also been a valued team player, always willing to collaborate and share insights with colleagues. [His/Her/Their] positive attitude, creativity, and willingness to go the extra mile have made [him/her/them] an integral part of our marketing team.

I have every confidence that [Employee's Name] will continue to excel in [his/her/their] future endeavors and bring the same level of dedication and expertise to any organization [he/she/they] joins. [He/She/They] has my highest recommendation without reservation.


[Your Name]
[Your Position]
[Company Name]

How to write a letter of recommendation for a teacher

Writing for someone you know a bit more personally? Perhaps it’s a teacher, a coworker, a mentor, or someone you volunteered with? Here’s a letter of recommendation template.

Dear [Recipient's Name],

I am writing to wholeheartedly endorse [Teacher's Name] for the prestigious volunteer opportunity to teach abroad with [Organization Name]. As a former student of [his/her/theirs] at [School Name], I owe much of my success to [his/her/their] exceptional teaching and mentorship, which played a pivotal role in shaping my career path and ultimately led me to my current role at the United Nations.

Throughout my time in [his/her/their] class, [Teacher's Name] demonstrated an unwavering commitment to excellence in teaching and a genuine passion for empowering [his/her/their] students. [He/She/They] not only imparted knowledge but also instilled in us a sense of curiosity, critical thinking, and a desire to make a positive impact on the world.

[Teacher's Name] went above and beyond to nurture my potential and encouraged me to pursue my ambitions, including my desire to work at the United Nations. [His/Her/Their] guidance, support, and encouragement were instrumental in helping me navigate the challenges of pursuing a career in international affairs.

I firmly believe that [Teacher's Name] possesses the qualities and expertise necessary to excel as a volunteer teacher abroad with [Organization Name]. [His/Her/Their] passion for education, coupled with [his/her/their] dedication to empowering students and creating positive change, make [him/her/them] an exceptional candidate for this opportunity.


[Your Name]
[Your Position or Relationship to Teacher]

Dear candidate, you got this 

A good letter of recommendation can make or break a person’s success during their search for the next golden opportunity. Whether you’re drafting one for yourself or writing one on someone’s behalf, following the six steps above will ensure you’ve got a well-structured letter for the application. More importantly, tailor this professional letter to the opportunity at hand, so the receiver of the letter can envision the applicant in the new role. 

To get support writing a tailored recommendation letter that helps you stand out from the crowd, try Teal's AI-powered Resume Builder. Using its AI achievement generator, you can write metric-rich achievements and its Matching Mode helps you target keywords from the job description. It’s exactly what you need to supercharge your resume and letter of recommendation. Sign up for Teal for free.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a strong letter of recommendation?

A strong letter of recommendation is characterized by specific and detailed examples that illustrate the candidate's strengths and abilities. It should be written by someone who knows the applicant well and can provide genuine and enthusiastic praise. A compelling letter also highlights the context of the relationship between the recommender and the candidate, adding credibility to the endorsement. A strong letter of recommendation is well-organized and effectively communicates why the candidate is exceptional and deserving of the opportunity they are seeking.

What should you not include in a letter of recommendation?

When writing a letter of recommendation, it's important to avoid vague or generic statements that do not directly support the candidate's qualifications. Additionally, refrain from making comparisons to other applicants or individuals, as this can detract from the focus on the candidate's unique qualities. Avoid exaggerations that could undermine the credibility of the letter. Lastly, do not include any negative remarks or criticisms that could harm the candidate's prospects.

How do you make a letter of recommendation stand out?

To make a letter of recommendation stand out, focus on highlighting specific achievements and qualities that demonstrate the candidate's  abilities. Use concrete and detailed examples to illustrate the impact of their work or character. Personalize the letter by showcasing your unique perspective and deep understanding of the candidate's strengths. Incorporate specific details about the candidate's skills, accomplishments, and contributions that set them apart from others.

Kaleena Stroud

Kaleena is a freelance copywriter enamored with helping people catapult their careers. Originally from California, she's currently based out of Barcelona, Spain. When she's not reading or writing, you can find her picnicking by the sea with her family.

We help you find
the career dream.