Letters of Recommendation Explained

Letters of Recommendation
Fast and easy: Instant download of 79 actual recommendation letter templates - here.

The following is an excerpt from my recently released eBook"Instant Recommendation Letter Kit - How To Write WinningLetters of Recommendation".

That eBook is the only definitive information source thatdeals exclusively with how to write ALL types ofrecommendation letters. Here's part of one chapter:


There is a lot of confusion about recommendation letters.

Recommendation letters are often referred to in a numberof different ways including: letters of recommendation,reference letters, letters of reference, commendationletters, and sometimes even, performance evaluationletters.

This terminology can be quite confusing, especiallywhen these terms are often used interchangeably,sometimes to mean the same thing, sometimes to meansomething different.

In fact, there are five (5) main types of "recommendationletters", as follows:

- recommendation letters - job related
- letters of recommendation - college/university related
- reference letters - job and community related
- commendation letters - employment and community related
- performance evaluation letters - employment related

Even so, people often throw around the term "recommendationletter" without really knowing exactly what they're talkingabout. This causes a lot of misunderstanding when someoneasks for a recommendation letter, and the person beingasked has a totally different concept of what is beingrequested.

This can cause serious problems at times. That's because,of all letters ever written on a personal or businessbasis, recommendation letters are among the most criticalbecause they almost always have important implicationsin the workplace or community, or in the often difficultquest for acceptance into a college or university.

Below are some definitions that should clear up anyconfusion.

Recommendation Letters


Also called a recommendation letter, it is an employment-related letter that is specifically requested by the personthe letter is being written about. Such a letter is usuallypositive in nature, and written by someone who knows thesubject well enough to comment on the skills, abilities,and specific work attributes of that person.

Typically, an employment-related recommendation letterconveys one person's view of the work performance andgeneral workplace demeanor of another person that hasworked under their direct supervision. The requestor ofthe letter normally requests such a letter to use whenapplying for a promotion or a new job.

These letters are usually addressed to a specific person towhom the requestor has been asked to submit the letter.

Letters of Recommendation

College- and University-Related

Another situation where recommendation letters are acommon requirement is for entry into undergraduate andgraduate programs at a college or university. Graduateprograms often require two or more letters ofrecommendation as part of the program admissionrequirements.

Normally, these college-related recommendation letters arewritten at the request of the program applicant by peoplewho know them and are familiar with their academic careerto date, and their future education and career aspirations.These people could include: former teachers, communityleaders, school faculty members, administrators, academicsupervisors, and/or employers.

These letters are always addressed to a specific person andare normally included as part of the program admissionapplication.

Reference Letters

These are more general letters that are often requested byemployees when they leave the employ of an organization.Normally factual in nature, they are usually addressed,"to whom it may concern" and provide basic informationsuch as: work history, dates of employment, positions held,academic credentials, etc.

Reference letters sometimes contain a general statement(as long as a positive one can be made), about theemployee's work record with the company that they areleaving. Employees often submit these letters with jobapplications in the hope that the letter will reflectfavorably on their chances for the new position.

Character reference letters are sometimes required byemployers when hiring individuals to perform personal orresidential services such as child care, domestic services,etc. These letters are usually drafted by a former employerand deal with such attributes as honesty, dependability,and work ethic/performance.

Commendation Letters

These are normally unsolicited letters, which typicallycommend an employee to their supervisor for somethingoutstanding or noteworthy that the employee has done.Usually, the employee would have to do something “above andbeyond” what is normally expected of them in their job towarrant such a letter.

Typically, these letters are written by co-workers, ormanagers from another area of the organization who weresuitably impressed while supervising the person on a short-term project.

Commendation letters are also used to nominate individualsfor special awards of recognition for outstanding publicservice.

Performance Evaluation Letters

These are usually detailed assessments of an employee'swork performance as part of an organization's regularemployee review process. Typically, they are writtenby the employee's supervisor and are attached to theindividual's performance appraisal and placed in theirpersonnel file.

The format and structure for this type of letter is moreoften than not dictated by the employee performanceevaluation system or process that is in-place whereverthe subject of the letter is employed.

However, in the academic environment in North America there is often a requirement for a specific “performanceevaluation letter” for the assessment of academic staff.

Know What You're Writing

So, if your dealing with recommendation letters, here'sa word of advice.

The next time someone asks to write a "recommendationletter" for them, make sure you know exactly whatyou're getting into. Or, if you're the one doing theasking, make sure you know specifically what you'reasking for. If you're not quite, click on thefollowing link for all of the answers:

Instant Recommendation Letter Kit

Shaun Fawcett is the world's foremost expert on writing ALL types of letters of recommendation and letters of reference for ALL situations: personal, business, character, employment, and college admission. His comprehensive book, with real-life templates, is considered the top resource on this subject on the planet:http://InstantRecommendationLetterKit.com