Missouri State University

Tips for Writing a Letter of Reference

Writing a letter of recommendation is not a easy task and must be taken seriously.  It can mean the difference between being hired or being rejected.  The following are suggestions on how to be an effective evaluator.

Salutation

  • Utilize your department's official letterhead.

  • Provide a generic beginning to any reference letter.

Introduction

  • Indicate the applicant's name and the position they are applying for.

  • Include your affiliation/relationship with the person.  Were you a supervisor? Advisor? Professor? 

  • Describe your qualifications for comparing the applicant to other applicants. 

  • Discuss how well you know the applicant.

Body of Letter

  • Direct the body of your letter to the most important things listed in the job description, graduate application, scholarship letter.

  • Support your comments with examples, quantify your examples (what resulted from their work), and avoid generalities.

  • Concentrate on several aspects of the person.  Specifically identify his/her skills, attitudes, professional attributes and growth, as well as his/her contributions to and performance within your organization. GIVE EXAMPLES OF THEIR CONTRIBUTION.

  • Keep it concise.  The people who receive these letters most likely have a number to review.

Closure

  • Close with the applicant's potential in his or her chosen field.

  • Type your recommendation letter.  Appearance of the letter is a reflection on both you and the candidate.

 

Letter of Recommendation Worksheet