The following article is an adaptation from a chapter in the Revised Edition of my best-selling book/ebook “Instant Recommendation Letter Kit – Revised Edition”.
The new version can be seen at the Web site:
While writing and editing literally hundreds of recommendation and reference letters over the years, I have noticed certain common elements and approaches that are applicable to almost all such letters. And, ever since I published my best-seller of a couple of years ago “Instant Recommendation Letter Kit”, I have been meaning to write down these common elements/approaches.
Finally, I did manage to jot it all down in a brand new chapter while I was drafting the Revised Edition of Instant Recommendation Letter Kit. That new chapter is simply titled, “Recommendation Power Phrases”.
If you look closely at many recommendation and reference letters you will notice that there are certain “types” of phrases that recur over and over again throughout the various letters. These statement types can be grouped into three major categories: opening statements, assessment statements, and closing statements. These statements are the three key components of any recommendation or reference letter. If you formulate these phrases well you are guaranteed to have an excellent letter.
1. OPENING STATEMENTS
The opening statement in a letter of recommendation should state the name of the person being recommended. It can also explain why you are the person writing the letter. The opening statement should normally be one short sentence and should never exceed two sentences.
Following are three (3) generic typical opening statements for inclusion in recommendation letters or reference letters:
- I am writing this letter at the request of [name of requestor].
- This is in response to your recent request for a letter of recommendation for [name].
- I am pleased to be able to write this letter of recommendation for [name].
The Revised Edition of Instant Recommendation Letter Kit contains OVER 50 opening statements for the various types of letter of recommendation.
2. ASSESSMENT STATEMENTS
Assessment statements in a letter of recommendation are those sentences and phrases that contain the recommender’s specific assessment of the performance, characteristics, and attributes of the person being recommended.
Normally an assessment statement will be followed up by one or two specific performance-related examples backing up the statement just made.
Following are three (3) generic typical assessment statements for inclusion in recommendation letters or reference letters:
- In my opinion, [name] is a hard-working self-starter who invariably understands exactly what a project is all about.
- [name] consistently produces high quality work in a timely fashion.
- The only area of weakness that I ever noted in [name]’s performance was…
The Revised Edition of Instant Recommendation Letter Kit contains OVER 50 such assessment statements for the various types of recommendation letters.
3. CLOSING STATEMENTS
The closing statement in a letter of recommendation should be one or two sentences at most, and it should make a clear statement of recommendation that flows logically from the points made in the assessment part of the letter. They will often begin with transition phrases such as: “In summary…”, “In Closing,…”, “Based on the foregoing,…”, “Accordingly,…”, etc.
Closing statements in recommendation letters are generally positive, but in some circumstances they may be qualified, or even completely negative.
Following are three (3) generic typical closing statements for inclusion in recommendation letters and reference letters:
- I am therefore very pleased to be able to recommend [name] for…
- Based on my time working with [name], I recommend her very highly for…
- I respect [name] as a colleague, but I must say that in all honesty, I cannot recommend him for your committee.
The Revised Edition of Instant Recommendation Letter Kit contains OVER 40 such closing statements for the various types of recommendation letters.
In summary, mastering these three types of “recommendation power phrases” is the key to writing all types of letters of recommendation. As such, knowledge of how to write typical opening, assessment, and closing statements used in recommendation and reference letters, as illustrated above, will make writing these letters a lot easier.
Accordingly, to help people quickly formulate their own recommendation letters, I have included more than 150 generic “Recommendation Letter Power Phrases” in the latest Revised Edition of Instant Recommendation Letter Kit:
Although, it’s unlikely that anyone who owns the Kit will ever have to actually write a recommendation letter from scratch. These recommendation power phrases are provided here simply for information purposes, since Instant Recommendation Letter Kit includes 89 fully-formatted real-life recommendation letter templates with the power phrases already built-in. These templates can can be downloaded into a word processor and quickly and easily adapted to fit just about any situation.