Recommendation Letter Template

Use this customizable recommendation letter template to give a big thumbs-up to your awesome former colleague, team member, student, or friend.

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This template will help you avoid the “blank page fright” and get you started fleshing out a pitch-perfect recommendation letter of your own.

What is a recommendation letter?

You’ve probably been asked to provide a referee at some point—but that doesn’t mean you’ve actually written a reference yourself. 

A recommendation letter tells a quick story about your experience of working (or not) with someone. The idea is to make them sparkle. ✨

And remember, if you’ve not had the best experience of this person, it’s probably best to politely decline rather than make stuff up or—even worse—lie.

How to write a recommendation letter

So, how does it work?

Here are a few pointers on how to write a stellar recommendation letter: 

  1. Make sure you’ve got all the info you need.
  2. Take some time to think about who you’re writing about.
  3. Use our customizable template to ace your letter.

Ace the content

What you write in your recommendation letter depends on who it’s for and what they’re applying to next.

Ask yourself: 

  • Were they a student of yours? An intern or team member at your company? 
  • Are they taking a step up? 
  • What qualities might the hirer be looking for? Do you have any examples of when they displayed this quality?

If you don’t have this info, ask for more details or simply pick generic examples.

Take time to think about who you’re writing about

If it’s been a while since you worked with this person, take time to think about them and even chat with mutual colleagues. You might want to double check their title, how long they worked with you and even reminisce about the awesome times you had together. 

Ask yourself: 

  • What was their title? Who was their manager?
  • What did they achieve at our company?
  • What are 1-2 of their most awesome examples of great work? 
  • What are 2-3 of their best qualities?
  • What’s my favourite work-related thing about them?

Recommendation Letter Template

Here are two templates to get you started, one for a former employee and one for a former student:

Letter of recommendation for employee

Hi [insert name]!

I am super happy to recommend [their name]. As [their job title], [He/ She] worked with me, [your job title], at [company name] for [duration of stay].

As an employee, [their name] was always totally [quality]. During [his/her] time in my team, [they] managed to [specific example].

I really rate [quality] in our team and [their name] aced it every time. An example was when [example]. 

[Their name] is a awesome to work with and I wouldn’t hesitate to hire [their] again.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about [their]. My number is [phone number].

Thanks,

[Your name and signature]

Letter of recommendation for a former student

Hi [insert name]!

I am super happy to recommend [student name].  I am [your job title] at [institution] and [student name] was my [student/ PhD candidate/ lab assistant/ etc.] for [duration of study].

As a student, [their name] was always totally [quality]. During [his/her] time in my class, [they] worked on [projects] and managed to [example].

I really rate [quality] in my class and [student name] aced it every time. An example was when [example]. 

[Their name] is awesome to work with and I wouldn’t hesitate to collaborate with [their] again.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about [their]. My number is [phone number].

Thanks,

[Your name and signature]

Personalize your draft

These templates are only a base so use your own words to modify them. 

Top tips:

  • Use 1-2 sentences to give context to each of your examples.
  • Write in your own voice and focus on what’s important.
  • Be honest about what they’ve achieved—you don’t want to catch them out later. 
  • Tailor your letter to the job they’re applying for if you can.

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