Letter of recommendation You are about to write your resume for a professional position. This is a position for which you will qualify when you graduate fr
Letter of recommendation You are about to write your resume for a professional position. This is a position for which you will qualify when you graduate from the degree program in which you are currently enrolled. To be hired for this position you may need one, or more, letters of recommendation. Write a letter of recommendation about yourself for your current supervisor’s signature.* If you are not presently employed, write the letter in the name of one of your previous supervisors. If you have never been employed, write the letter for one of your previous professors, preferably a professor in your major field of study. The letter should be addressed to one of the job advertisements you submitted last week. You may need to look up the correct address. Letter of Recommendation
This week is the introduction to the formal business letter. In spite of the inroads made by
email and other forms of electronic communication, the formal business letter is still a
common means of communication in the workplace. One of the uses of the formal
business letter is to write a letter of recommendation. For this assignment, you will write a
fictional letter of recommendation, for yourself.
Being able to write a good formal business letter will have a lot to do with your future
career advancement. Those who can communicate in writing to clients, vendors, peers,
regulators and other individuals will be the ones who receive the promotions, raises and
bonuses. Those who cannot communicate effectively in writing will tend to lag behind in
This week we will work on some of the elements of a business letter, especially the format
to follow for a business letter. On the Handouts page you will find a handout titled “Format
for a Business Letter”. This is a generic format that can be followed for most business
letters. You should follow this format for any business letter you write for this class unless
you are instructed to modify the format in some way (In Week 6 you will have some very
specific instructions for writing the transmittal letter for your resume).
Please note that the business letter is written in single spacing format. You may, if you
wish, use 1.15 spacing, but nothing larger. There is also a blank line between paragraphs
and between the return address and the date, between the date and the recipients
address, between the recipient’s address and the subject line, and between the subject
line and the greeting. To learn how to set the spacing for Word on your computer turn to
the Tech Tip on page 282 of the textbook.
There is one key tip the textbook does not tell you. When you have the dialog box open to
modify the line spacing, in addition to everything the book tells you, you must also go to the
bottom two lines of the dialog box where you set the line spacing. You must click on those
two lines until they say, “Add Space Before Paragraph” and “Add Space After Paragraph”.
Unless you make these adjustments you will double space all addresses when you use the
“Enter” command to move to the next line.
In the workplace when someone receives a business letter, the recipient has one of four
options for what he or she will do with the letter.
If the letter is of interest, important and urgent the recipient will read the letter now.
If the letter is of interest and important, but not urgent the recipient may decide to
set it aside to be read later.
If the letter is more suited to be handled by someone else in the office he/she will
pass the letter to the appropriate recipient.
If the letter is not interesting and not important the recipient will destroy the letter or
toss it into a waste basket.
The subject line of a business letter should give the recipient the subject of the letter so
he/she can decide which of the four options might be appropriate. If the recipient’s
company has a filing code his/her company uses to file correspondence for the topic of the
letter and you know that filing code you should include the code in the letter. It will help the
recipient to find the file that contains the history of the subject letter.
The first paragraph of a business letter is also very important. Sometimes the recipient will
be expecting your letter and be familiar with its content. In other cases the recipient will not
be expecting your letter and you will need to explain why you are sending this letter to him
or her. If there has been previous communication about the subject remind the recipient of
that previous communication. For example, if the recipient has asked you for information
about a product your company produces you might start the paragraph with the sentence,
“This letter is in response your letter of September 14 asking for more information about
Deluxe Widget”. This sentence reminds the recipient this is a letter he/she requested,
hence it should be of interest to him/her and may be important.
If the recipient is not expecting the letter you will need to explain to him/her in the first
paragraph why is should be of interest and important to him/her. In this week’s assignment
you will be writing a letter of recommendation. You will need to explain in the first
paragraph why the letter is of interest and important to the recipient (the person named in
the letter has applied for a job). Also in the first paragraph you will need to name the
person for whom you are writing the letter of recommendation (that will be you). With this
information the recipient of your letter will know what he or she wants to do with the letter.
Probably the letter will go into the file with the person’s job application materials until the
recipient is ready to review the applications and decide who will be interviewed.
The key to the first paragraph is that by the time the recipient has finished reading the first
paragraph, and it should be a short paragraph, he/she will know what the letter is about
and what will be done with the letter.
The last paragraph of a business letter is also important. By the time the recipient has
finished reading the last paragraph he/she should know what you expect from him or her. If
the letter is one of inquiring about a product produced by the recipient’s company you want
the recipient, or someone in the company, to send you information about the product. If
you are sending information the recipient has requested and you want to sell a product to
the recipient you might end the letter a request to meet with the person. If the letter
concerns an urgent problem and the recipient holds a key piece of the solution you might
want to put a deadline on his/her response.
If you expect a response from the recipient of your letter make I clear at the end of the
letter what you expect from him or her. Don’t leave the recipient wondering what he/she
should do now.
There is one final broad thing to learn about business letters (and business communication
in general). A business letter should address only one subject per letter. If you put two or
three different subjects into one letter the chances are you will get a response on one of
the subjects but probably not on the second or third subject. For example, if you write to a
company to order one product and in the same letter ask for maintenance information
about a separate product made by the company and also ask for information about a third
product the company produces the chances of a satisfactory reply on all three requests are
very low. Send three separate letters with one subject per letter. Chances are each request
will need to go to a different person. If you send three separate letters it is easy to send
each one to the appropriate person.
While you say it is easy to make photocopies of the letter and send a copy of the letter to
the three person in charge of each request, experience will eventually tell you it doesn’t
work that way in real life. Send three letters.
The Recommendation Letter Assignment
You are about to write your resume for a professional position. This is a position for which
you will qualify when you graduate from the degree program in which you are currently
enrolled. To be hired for this position you may need one, or more, letters of
recommendation. Write a letter of recommendation about yourself for your current
supervisor’s signature.* If you are not presently employed, write the letter in the name of
one of your previous supervisors. If you have never been employed, write the letter for
one of your previous professors, preferably a professor in your major field of study. The
letter should be addressed to one of the job advertisements you submitted last week. You
may need to look up the correct address.
Be sure the letter presents a strong case for hiring you. At the same time don’t go
overboard or your supervisor may not be willing to sign it. Also, be sure to include
information on how the signer of the letter knows you, be it as your supervisor at work or
as a professor in one, or several, classes. If you can provide examples of outstanding
work you performed for the person signing the letter, do so. Examples are better
recommendations than generalities. Be sure that anything you include in the letter is
something your supervisor or professor will know about. Your supervisor will not be able to
personally testify to your academic performance and your professor will not be able to
testify to your work performance. For this assignment you will not actually submit the letter
to your supervisor or professor for his or her signature. Submit your letter in the
Assignment Dropbox tool without a signature as though you would submit it to your
supervisor if you were asking him or her for a signature.
A letter of recommendation is a formal business letter. Be sure to read the prompt above
on writing a formal business letter. On the Handouts page there is an example of the
format to be used for a formal business letter. Finally, remember to review the formatting
requirements for this course. The addresses included in a business letter are always
* When asked to write a letter or memorandum for someone else’s signature, you are
being asked to write the document as though that person had written it. The other
person’s name and title will go on the signature block for the document. Even though you
will have composed the letter, your name will not appear on the document except as the
person being recommended. Having a staff member write a letter, or memorandum, for
the supervisor’s signature is a common practice in business and government. To be asked
to write a letter for your supervisor’s signature usually shows that your supervisor trusts
your judgment in composing the letter and he/she is willing to risk his/her professional
reputation by signing your work. By signing your work your supervisor is accepting full
responsibility for the contents of the document.
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