A letter of recommendation, or reference letter, is often sent from the current or previous manager, supervisor, professor, coworker, peer, or personal contact who can describe the knowledge, skills, or aptitudes that you possess.
Uses for Recommendations
Recommendation letters can be used when looking for work or applying to graduate school. Reference letters may be required when applying for monetary awards, such as a fellowship or grant. When presented selectively
in a portfolio, reference letters provide compelling evidence to an employer or committee about your abilities.
While your referees can provide a verbal reference, letters can be used if your reference has moved away, is no longer with the organization, or is out of reach for some reason, such as on holiday, when you need to supply your references.
Who makes a good reference?
When looking for employment, a current or previous employer or direct supervisor is the best reference. It is also acceptable to include a direct supervisor from unpaid employment, such as a practicum or a volunteer position. When applying for graduate or professional school, persons who can comment on your academic achievements, such as a professor, or a professional who is active in the field you wish to enter, are excellent choices. Personal and/or professional acquaintances, for example, a high-ranking community member or professional in good standing whom you know personally, are also acceptable.
What makes an effective Recommendation letter?
- Use action verbs to describe your accomplishments, skills, and strengths.
- Use of the active voice indicates that you completed tasks and demonstrated desirable behaviors. The passive voice can indicate that events happened to you and tasks would have been completed whether you were there or not.
- How you performed the responsibilities required for the position or role. A glowing reference letter will include how you exceeded expectations in your position/role, even if it is only in one area.
- Descriptions of your contributions to the work/academic environment, whether in regards to your
- work habits, such as completed tasks on time, or your personal strengths, for example, you are collegial and supportive.
- • If possible, a statement indicating that the referee would re-hire you or collaborate with you on another project. People may also work several times for the same organization and it is beneficial for you if the letter indicates that you worked for or with the referee several times or that they expect to work with you in the future.
- The referee’s contact information including his or her full name, appropriate title, address, phone number, and/or e-mail address.
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