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Writing the LOR on behalf of the recommender.

 

Receiving a letter of recommendation request is a common occurrence, often from individuals hoping to further their educational or professional pursuits. What makes this task even more intriguing is that sometimes the recommenders request that you write the letter on their behalf. In this article, we will outline essential tips and guidelines to help you compose a successful letter of recommendation, ensuring it stands out and paints a vivid picture of the candidate.

1. Be Concise, Thorough, and Specific

The key to writing an effective letter of recommendation lies in being concise yet thorough and providing specifics. This isn't the place for vague or general information. Instead, your letter should delve into the specific qualifications, qualities, and experiences of the candidate. Admissions committees and employers are looking for tangible insights that differentiate the candidate from others.

2. Write from the Recommender's Perspective

When writing a letter of recommendation, it's essential to maintain the perspective of the person endorsing the candidate. The letter should communicate ideas and experiences solely from the writer's viewpoint. Unless the recommender is in an oversight position and has acquired information from direct sources, the content should be based on what the recommender has observed directly from the candidate.

3. Structuring the Letter

Follow a structured approach when composing the letter:

  • Begin with a brief, one to two-sentence introduction, explicitly stating the purpose of the letter. For example, "I am writing to recommend [Candidate's Name] for [Position or Program]."

  • In the subsequent paragraph(s), introduce yourself as the writer, stating your position, and describe how you became acquainted with or observed the candidate. This may require two to three sentences, especially if the connection involves a complex working relationship.

  • In the remaining paragraphs, delve into the specifics, providing concrete examples of the candidate's contributions, skills, and character. Share detailed anecdotes and experiences that highlight their abilities and potential.

  • Conclude the letter with a concise two-sentence paragraph expressing gratitude for the consideration and the writer's willingness to respond to any inquiries.

4. Don't Confine Yourself to One Page

There's a common misconception that all recommendation letters should fit onto a single page. While this might be true for uninspiring, vague, or overly general letters, it's not a strict rule. In fact, programs often prefer longer, more comprehensive recommendation letters.

Outstanding letters of recommendation can span six or seven pages, although your letter is unlikely to be that extensive. Rather than focusing on a page count, your goal should be to provide a comprehensive, specific, and engaging recommendation. A well-written, multi-page letter will often be preferred over a one-pager.

In summary, the success of a letter of recommendation hinges on its ability to be concise, yet comprehensive and specific. The more concrete and detailed the insights you provide, the stronger the candidate's application will be. And remember, don't be bound by a one-page myth – prioritize quality over brevity, as programs and employers appreciate thorough, meaningful endorsements.

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