5 Tips for Faculty When Writing a Letter of Recommendation

November 11, 2022 Watermark Insights

Writing a recommendation letter is an excellent way to show your appreciation for hard-working students and help them gain more experience in their field. These letters can significantly impact a student's ability to enter a graduate program or obtain a job position. 

Students typically choose instructors and faculty members with whom they have multiple experiences, and they trust in your ability to accurately depict them as a student and a person. Check out these tips if you want to craft an outstanding letter of recommendation for your students. 

What Is a Letter of Recommendation?

A professional letter of recommendation is a formal document that details a person's qualifications, skills, and sustainability for a position at a place of employment or an academic program. Typically teachers, colleagues, mentors, previous employers, or clients will write these letters. However, college and university students often have the most experience with their professors and other institution members and feel comfortable asking these professionals to speak on their behalf. 

Recommendation letters verify the experiences a person is detailing to their potential place of employment or graduate school boards. These letters attest to the person's work ethic, personality, and capabilities. Students need someone they can trust to detail a personal note that will stand out to employers or administrators. A letter of recommendation is not always necessary for a position, but it can make a student become a more competitive candidate. 

Why Is a Letter of Recommendation Important?

A quality recommendation letter can help a student's application look unique. When you write a worthwhile letter that details the exceptional knowledge, expertise, and experience the student can bring to the table, you demonstrate why they are more impressive than other candidates. 

These letters detail the student's desire to develop in the field and highlight their strengths or justify their weaknesses. Among many candidates who share similar skills and experiences, the recommendation letter is an opportunity to express unique views and opinions about the student. 

A recommendation letter for a student from a professor can also aid in the graduate school application process and is an excellent way to show your support. If the admissions board for the student's desired program recognizes the instructor's name or your institution as reputable, respectable, and trustworthy, the student may stand out against others. 

With your recommendation, they can move ahead in the admissions process knowing they're admitting a student who will add value to their institution. Alternatively, receiving a letter from an instructor in the field the student wishes to pursue as a career can show employers that they have valuable experience and knowledge to help them succeed. 

5 Tips for Faculty When Writing a Recommendation Letter

Knowing how to write a recommendation letter for a student can help them stand out against other candidates and further their careers. Crafting a personal note highlighting their strengths is an excellent way to show their character and why they would be a great fit for the position they're applying for. 

However, you should keep a few things in mind while crafting your letter. Whether you're writing a letter of recommendation for graduate school or want to help your students with their employment search, these tips can help. 

1. Do Your Research

Before beginning a student recommendation letter, you should research the position and company the student is applying for. Searching the institution's department and graduation requirements would be a great starting point if they're looking for graduate school. 

Ask the student to describe the position, provide a copy of their resume, and list any skills or experiences they would like you to highlight. This will be an excellent starting point and establish a foundation for your letter. You can then focus your efforts on showing their strengths and why they would be an exceptional new team member or student. 

2. Use Specific Examples

A recommendation letter should be personal. Put yourself in the reader's shoes and imagine what information they would like to know and be as specific as possible. If you know the specifics of the position, you can recount your experiences with the student that detail their abilities to lead in that field. Although there can be some similar information, the readers will typically want to see new information that isn't already on the student's other documents.

3. Remain Positive

The examples you use to highlight your student should reflect positive aspects of their academic or professional abilities. Your honest enthusiasm can aid in their acceptance or hire, and if you can, try to use a superlative comparison between the student and others you have experience with. For example, saying the student has demonstrated the most intense desire to learn more about the field in the class, illustrating their ability to take leadership, or detailing them as one of the best students you've had the pleasure of working with can help make them more memorable than the other applicants. 

4. Keep It Concise

Although you want to be personal, your letter must be formal and concise. Using standard font text and sizes, like 12-point Times New Roman or Arial, will likely be the best choice. If possible, include your institution's letterhead at the top. You can find many recommendation letter templates you can use to ensure you follow the proper format and appear professional. 

The admissions board or employer you're writing to may receive hundreds, if not thousands, of recommendation letters. Keeping your letter concise will help avoid them skimming or getting bored. As a general rule of thumb, aim to have a letter around one page in length. If you need more space, try not to exceed two pages. 

5. Don't Be Afraid to Say No

One of the most important things to remember before writing a recommendation letter is that you can say no. If you feel you have inadequate experiences with the student and won't be able to provide the glowing recommendation they need, you can deny their request. 

Crafting a generic letter might impede the student's acceptance or hire. Although you likely want to help each of your students, declining is perfectly acceptable. Explain your reasons for declining and politely point them to an instructor or faculty member who can provide a more accurate reflection. 

Ensure Student Success With Watermark Insights

Watermark can help prepare your students for graduate programs, careers, and internships. We've been crafting higher education solutions for over 20 years, and our innovative solutions have already worked for many other colleges and universities. 

With Watermark Curriculum Strategy, you can build and share a curriculum that empowers student success and enables them to build strong resumes and worthwhile experiences. Our software enables you to shape the student experience and make them stand out for prospects. 

With our solution, you can seamlessly track student records and ensure you have the information you need to write a worthwhile recommendation letter for every student. Request a demo of Watermark Curriculum Strategy and experience what we can do to empower your students.

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