Tips for Writing Letters of Recommendation
Pass these tips on to your recommenders to save them time and improve your letters of recommendation.
- Review a copy of the applicant's personal statement or application essays so that your letter of recommendation can dovetail with–not conflict with or duplicate–the rest of the application.
- Ask the applicant to supply you with additional information like a resume.
- Describe your qualifications for comparing the applicant to other applicants.
- I have been teaching for twenty years and have advised approximately 450 students on independent research projects over the last five years.
- I have personally supervised ten interns every summer for the last five years plus worked with over two hundred college graduates in my capacity as trainer for Big Bank Corp.
- Discuss how well you know the applicant.
- I was able to get to know Mr. Doe because he made it a point to attend two of my sections every week when only one was required.
- Ms. Smith reported directly to me for two years prior to her well-deserved promotion to the position of Senior in our Big Six Accounting Firm.
- Choose two to three qualities that you observed in the applicant.
- Jane has a rare blend of top writing and interpersonal skills.
- The combination of tenacity, analytical abilities, and good communications skills found in Mr. Doe is truly unique.
- In discussing those qualities, support your statements with specific instances in which he or she demonstrated those attributes. Be as concrete and detailed as possible.
- He is the only student I ever had who came to all my office hours as part of a relentless, and ultimately successful, drive to master financial theory. He was one of just ten percent in the class to receive an A.
- Because of Jane's writing skills, I didn't hesitate to ask her to write a report which was used by our PAC as the basis for a major policy statement. Congressman X eventually used the statement, based on Jane's sophisticated 20-page analysis of Middle East politics, in lobbying for increased funding.
- Try to quantify the student's strengths or rank him or her vis-a-vis other applicants that you have observed.
- He was in the top 10% of his class.
- She has the best analytical skills of any person her age that I have ever supervised.
- Avoid generalities and platitudes.
- Include some mild criticism, typically the flip-side of a strength.
- The only fault I have encountered in him is his retiring nature. His modesty sometimes hides a young man of remarkable strength and broad interests.
- Occasionally, her fortitude and persistence can turn into stubbornness, but usually her good nature and level-headedness prevail.
- Discuss the applicant's potential in his or her chosen field.
- I enthusiastically recommend Mr. Doe to your business school. This well-rounded student will be a fine businessperson.
- With her exceptional leadership, writing, and quantitative skills, Ms. Smith will be an outstanding strategic consultant and a credit to the business school she attends.
By Linda Abraham, Founder and President of Accepted
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