For Faculty and Staff

Tips on Writing Recommendation Letters

Information for the Recommender 

Writing an effective letter of recommendation takes both time and some thought. Spend some time with the candidate you are writing for in order to discuss his or her goals and objectives. Below are some areas to consider when writing an effective recommendation letter.

1.  Suggested areas of information about the candidate to include in your recommendation:

  • how long and in what capacity you have known the candidate
  • general duties, responsibilities, or assignments of candidate
  • specific accomplishments or achievements
  • knowledge of subject matter
  • competence
  • organizational skills
  • problem solving ability; judgment
  • initiative, creativity, resourcefulness, leadership
  • ability to relate to and work for and with others
  • ability to communicate both oral and written
  • work attitudes such as commitment, dependability, enthusiasm, integrity, motivation, potential for success and growth
  • how the candidate compares to others you have known in similar positions
  • your work or educational background if relevant

2.  Avoid any comments referring to the candidate’s age, sex, disability, race, color, national origin, or religious belief.


3.  Be sure to keep a copy of this letter in your own files for future reference.


4.  Type your letter of recommendation on your letterhead and be sure to sign any forms where indicated.


5.  If you have any doubts about the candidate’s qualifications, we recommend that you discuss your reservations with the candidate. This will enable the candidate to gain valuable insight about him/her as well clearing up any misunderstandings. When the candidate understands your reservations, he/she will better be able to decide whether or not you should write a recommendation.


6.  In writing your recommendation, try to write the letter from the readers point of view. Please provide information and examples that support your statements so that the reader has some basis for making a decision.


7.  If you are unable to complete the recommendation in a timely manner it would be helpful to let the candidate know.


Please note, that if Career Services has received this recommendation for a credential file, no information about the contents of a confidential recommendation will be revealed to the candidate.  Non-confidential recommendations will be shown to the candidate upon request. 


Additional Resources


Below are some other resources that may be helpful.


Writing a Reference Letter - Discussion of the issues surrounding letters of reference


Suggested Guidelines for Writing References - Provides guidelines to observe when writing references for students


Faculty Reference Letter - Contains a sample/example for use when creating a letter of reference for students


A Faculty Guide to Ethical and Legal Standards in Hiring - A discussion of the ethical and legal standards involving students seeking employment


As always please feel free to contact us for more information.