How to Write a Recommendation Letter: Mistakes to Avoid 

One of the most frequent questions related to job reference and admission is on how to write a recommendation letter. The following letters let the writers give an evaluation of the capabilities and qualities of a recommended person to ensure that he or she can be efficient at performing a certain task. A letter of recommendation (LOR) in most cases is related to employment; thus, the quality of writing in it plays an important role.

The impact of LOR cannot be overestimated as the success of an admission attempt often depends on it. Basically, it is a document that confirms everything stated in the cover letter, CV, admission essay, and personal statement. Besides, its function is to make analysis and assessment of the reputation of an applicant. Your ambitions can be huge and your destination is still far away, but a good recommendation letter can add weight to your CV and prove useful in your career prospects.

 Letter of Recommendation: What It Is?

A recommendation letter attached to a university or college application is a document capable of adding some extra weight to other papers. It evaluates the potential and specific features of an applicant and determines whether he or she can join some course or get hired successfully. It touches upon the academic performance, personality, character, attitude, community involvement, and much more.

In most cases, the applicants request for LORs from their teachers, friends, employers, supervisors, or colleagues. It is a generally accepted practice that they are issued to a hiring manager or a college or university admissions officer when it goes about employment and education correspondingly. Another option is to issue a LOR to an applicant who then delivers it to the place of the potential employment or university.

 Excessively Brief Letters

One of the most serious mistakes about letters of recommendation is to make them too short. On average, the length of a typical letter is one page that comprises approximately 600 words. Universities always present specific requirements for letters of recommendation and referees have to check on them in advance. It is important to follow the word count limit guidelines. One of recommendations given in terms of the letter content is that there have to be numerous details included. Still, it is even more important to make sure that everything mentioned in the letter is relevant. 

A professional recommendation letter service always takes proper care of all the guidelines related to this type of documents. Brief letters imply indifference of the referee and even unwillingness to praise the applicant. On the other hand, a catchy LOR has enough details, being not too long either. 

Giving the same details in a LOR and CV

You have prepared a brilliant statement of purpose and a resume with a list of all your accomplishments. Please note that you cannot accompany them with a letter of recommendation that has the same content. Overlaps are fine, but there needs to be a different perspective in each of the documents. The LOR ought to touch upon the skills and qualities still unnoticed from the other documents. If all the ideas of the LOR simply repeat the facts from the CV, the chances to be selected get much lower. Remember that the key purpose of the letter of recommendation is to let the admission commission get acquainted with you without any personal meetings. They will read through the assessment of your qualities and imagine your personality and prospects of a student or an employee. The LOR lets the admission officers evaluate the relations between the applicant and the referring person and draw a conclusion on the objectivity of writing in this letter. 

No review of grammar and spelling mistakes


There is hardly any document which can benefit from mistakes in it. The most brilliant content in your recommendation letter will lose its glare if there are lots of grammar and spelling mistakes. The letter can look professional only if all the rules of syntax, vocabulary use, grammar, punctuation, and formatting are followed. The admission committees will doubt that you deserve to be a college student if a recommendation letter attached looks poor. Sloppy words and inconsistencies in the text produce a terrible effect on the chances to be successful. It may be embarrassing to give comments to teachers or other people you respect, but if you have noticed some spelling or grammar errors in the letter, you need to say that aloud. The first impression of your letter will determine your future. So, you have to take all measures to ensure that the writing is excellent. 

 Nothing New throughout the LOR

How can a university understand whether you are a perfect fit if you provide only standard documents with common things included? Learning how to write a recommendation letter, you have to focus on the features that can make you look highly competitive. Your candidature is good, but your task is to make it look flawless. 

One of the students’ mistakes is that they sound monotonous and emotionless in all the messages sent in the set of files they submit. All letters of recommendation in their package of documents are similar. It seems that all referees have taken the same sample with just a few gaps to fill in. So, they saved lots of their time, but your chances to get accepted got much lower. 

 Focus on three or even more qualities

The key task of a referee is to prove that an applicant is a perfect fit for the job or education program. It is enough to select one bright quality and evaluate it in the letter. It is also acceptable to focus on two of them, but not more. It is essential to give substantial support to the statements with real-life specific examples. For instance, it is great if a referee can tell about the handled tasks, overcome obstacles, and found solutions. The body of the letter may include two paragraphs with the highlighted achievements in one of them and characteristics of a personality in the other one. It is important for the committee to know that the applicant has a high level of integrity, commitment, work ethics, and energy. 

 Choosing a Reference with no Prior Notice Sent 


First and foremost, you have to ask a chosen person if he or she can be a reference and evaluate your skills and character for an application. Technically, your professor will not effuse to assist you and write a letter of recommendation for you. Still, that takes his or her precious time and concentration. Send an email or contact your professors in advance if you have decided to get a letter of recommendation from them.

 A Great Letter Never Uses:


  • Broad descriptions 
  • General language 
  • Detailed description of basic skills, like punctuality
  • Excessive attention paid to the details of mastering the course content. Instead, two or three sentences are just fine for that
  • Faint praise. It is much better to sound fair and honest and point out the areas for further growth and development instead of vague ideas. 


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