Letters of Recommendation and Reference
Whether you need to write a letter of recommendation or provide a reference, or your purpose is to write to request one or the other, it's essential that you make things as easy as possible for the letter recipient.
Be as direct and truthful as possible; only give a glowing recommendation if that's truly how you feel.
State the purpose of the letter up front.
Give enough details so the letter recipient can make a connection between you and the requested or included information.
If you can — and are willing to — offer to provide additional information, and then include an invitation for the letter recipient to contact you if that information is needed or wanted.
Now take a look at some samples.
Dear Ms. Sutton:
I plan to submit an application for one of Mendon University's five leadership scholarships. I'm hoping you'll be willing to write one of the letters of reference I need to submit with my application.
The scholarships are to be awarded to those who best exhibit academic excellence and leadership skills. As both my political science professor and faculty advisor for my work as intern in Senator Hahn's office, you're someone I believe can offer an objective perspective on my abilities in those areas.
The deadline for submission of my scholarship application is May 15. I've included a self-addressed, stamped envelope for you to use to send the requested letter to me; however, if you feel we should discuss this in person first, please contact me so we can set up a time for me to stop by your office.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Dear Mr. Cornelius:
I'm under consideration as a technical writer for Bradford Electronics. Because I've completed several similar (but noncompeting) writing projects for your company, I'm hoping that you'll be willing to provide me with a reference.
I'll give you a call at the end of the week so that we can discuss how you prefer to proceed with my request.
Dear Mrs. Murphy,
I'm pleased to have this opportunity to provide you with this letter of recommendation for David Hebert. I've worked with David on several tech writing projects, done for my department at CJ Software, and I hope I get the opportunity to work with him again in the future, too. David does a professional job, always meeting or exceeding my expectations. Just as important, if not more so, David completes his work on or before deadline.
Feel free to contact me at (555) 555-5555 if you need any additional or specific information.