Letter of Recommendation Types, 5 Hack Tricks & General Mistakes

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Letter of Recommendation is mostly referred to as LOR. It is a document that focuses on the candidate’s suitability for admission to a particular program. A well-professionally written LOR highlights the student’s characteristics, qualities, capabilities, skills, and work ethics. In case you are applying for courses like MBA, MS, Computer Science, etc., you need to produce LORs at the time of admission. Here, we will discuss in-depth the Letter of Recommendation to help you out. 

Letter of Recommendation – The Types

There are three kinds of recommendation letters: academic recommendations, Employment recommendations, and Character recommendations. An overview of each type of LOR is mentioned below:

Academic Recommendation Letters

Most students taking admission in a particular course are asked to provide such recommendations. Each student is supposed to produce at least two or three letters of recommendation.

Information about the student’s work achievements, character references, and personal details is shared here. Such a letter of recommendation can be taken by school teachers, principals, coaches, and other education professionals who guided students in the past and are well aware of their academic skills.

Employment Recommendations

Candidates planning to get a new job or applying to courses requiring work experience are supposed to provide such a letter of recommendation. Information like the students’ employment history, job performance, work ethic, etc., is mentioned in these letters. 

Most of the time, employment recommendations are written by former (or current employers) or a direct project manager. A letter of recommendation by your equals is not acceptable. It is advisable to carry at least three career references to showcase your qualities in the most desirable way.

Character References

This kind of a letter of recommendation is mostly required when opting for housing accommodations, legal situations, child adoption, and some situations where the other party must know all the accurate details about a person’s character. Character recommendation letters are mostly written by ex-employers, landlords, known ones in business, neighbours, etc.

7 Hacks to write an acceptable Letter of Recommendation

Letter of recommendations can be written by a former employer, client, colleague or school principal, or someone who knows you professionally, personally, and academically. Writing a Letter of Recommendation aims to professionally present candidates’ achievements, skills and qualities professionally. Some of the tricks of writing a professional Letter of Recommendation include:

  1. Introduce yourself: First of all, you need to introduce yourself in the starting lines and explain your relationship with the applicant. Don’t go into details; instead, explain why you have been asked to write a LOR for that person.
  2. Create a new letter for each recommendation: Rather than following a particular template for a LOR, it’s better to add little innovations each time. Try to add candidates’ qualifications, key skills, etc. in a more elaborate way to leave an ever-lasting impression on the readers.
  3. Review the resume: Before starting writing an individual recommendation, it’s better to read the resume thoroughly. Having a detailed understanding of student’s backgrounds, academically and professionally, will help you know more about someone’s strengths and weaknesses.
  4. Highlight some strong points: To lay focus on some critical points, writing them in bullets is advisable. Make sure to add a list of bullet points so that the readers can quickly go through them.
  5. Prepare a list of qualities: Post going through the resume and job description, compile all students’ qualities and accomplishments together. Ask candidates to provide the most marketable assets for the type of work, their projects, benchmarks set by them, or something extraordinary that happened in the past.
  6. Consider a Student’s job description: Before writing an employment recommendation, ask the candidate to provide a copy of the job description so you can have an understanding of his/her job profile. Have a detailed look at the job description so that you can prepare the Letter of Recommendation accordingly.
  7. Focus on some qualities: Select one or two qualities of the students, which you think will improve his/her chances of admission or getting a job. Also, try to support your statements with some past instances. This way, the reader can get to know about the candidates’ qualities. Try to include one-two paragraphs for the letter’s main body and highlight students’ past achievements, integrity, work ethic, etc.

5 Mistakes which must be avoided while writing a LOR

Some of the common mistakes, which both recommenders and the students asking for the recommendation must avoid are mentioned below:

  1. Using wrong ways: These days, buying the same Letter of Recommendation is not difficult, especially when available online. But all the candidates are advised not to use such means as the universities use plagiarism detection software and have the expert team of panels who can highlight the copied content. All these kinds of activities might result in rejection of your application.
  2. Contact the wrong recommender: Ask recommendations from those who professionally know you, rather than ask someone else. Recommendations can be taken from teachers with whom you have worked on some research or can take recommendations from your project manager or TL.
  3. Not giving enough time: Sometimes due to the hectic schedules, recommenders are often busy and don’t get the time to write the best recommendation. So it is advisable to contact recommenders at least 2-3 weeks in advance so that they can get enough time to review your resume and prepare a recommendation. In between, you can also check your LOR status with the recommender so that he/she does not miss the deadline.
  4. Not providing guidelines to the recommender is a mistake: Since your school principal or a project manager interacts with so many other people daily, there are chances that they might forget something important about you. So you need to take a step forward by updating your recommender with your latest achievements and accomplishments.
  5. Focusing too much on strength & achievements: Sometimes, focusing too much on the candidates’ strengths only creates a negative impression on the readers. One must not forget to focus on the student’s weaknesses and areas that need improvement as well. Universities or B-schools like an honest approach and make a Letter of Recommendation look more genuine and real.

Most people are being asked to write a reference letter at some point time during their entire professional career. Whether you are writing a Letter of Recommendation for your ex-employee, colleague, teammate, student, or someone else, it’s vital to know all the basics of writing an effective LOR. So adhere to all the tricks mentioned above before writing a letter of recommendation.