Tips on writing a powerful letter of recommendation

Published on
May 29, 2023
Letter of Recommendation

If you're applying for Bachelors, Masters, PhD, MBA, internships or a job, one common thing across all are reference letter. A letter of recommendation or reference is someone vouching for your skills and qualities to perform well in the upcoming role, based on your past experience of working together. Whether you're using a template or AI like ChatGPT / Bard to write these letters for you, keep these simple tips in mind to create a strong reference letter:

1. Personalize the letter.

Tailor the letter to the specific program or institution the applicant is applying to. Highlight their relevant skills, experiences, and achievements that align with the program's goals and values.

2. Provide specific examples.

Support your claims about the applicant's abilities and qualities with concrete examples. Describe instances where they demonstrated exceptional skills, accomplishments, or personal characteristics. Use the CAR framework (challenge-action-result) to back up your claims about the candidate.

3. Choose the right recommender.

Someone who you've worked closely can give evidence for your abilities. A generic letter looks like:

Carla is a hard-working, dedicated, passionate, enthusiastic and brilliant student. She was regular in classes and one of the top performers.

This reveals nothing about the candidate and is not memorable. If the recommender worked closely with you, then the letter would look like:

Ziv is a brilliant problem solver. In his assignment of the Signal Processing course, Ziv came up with the idea to train a neural network for de-noising the signal. This was a creative approach and gave far better results than the standard technique taught in the lab.

A personal letter from your teacher or direct supervisor is better than a generic letter from the head of your company / school.

4. Check requirements.

Some programs require a certain format / have questions to be addressed in the reference letter. Check the program website for these requirements.

5. Be enthusiastic and positive.

Express genuine enthusiasm and support for the applicant. Use positive language and avoid vague or generic statements. Let the reader feel your confidence in the applicant's potential.

6. Keep it concise.

A one-page letter is sufficient. Keep the letter brief, with an introduction, 2 examples and a conclusion. Use clear paragraphs and simple language.

7. Offer contact information.

Provide your contact information and offer to answer any additional questions the admissions committee may have about the applicant. Be available to provide further information if needed.

If you're using ChatGPT or Bard for writing letter of recommendation, incorporate the above points. Alternatively you can try GradGPT'S AI LOR Writer for writing powerful reference letters in minute.