Letters of Recommendation
As a Kent State faculty or staff member, you may be called upon to write a letter of recommendation for a student who is applying for a job or pursuing admission to a graduate program. You will need to determine if you can honestly write a supportive letter for the student. If the answer is no, decline to write the letter with an honest explanation. In the long run, doing so will be in the student's best interest. If you decide to provide a letter of recommendation, here are a few suggestions to assist you in this effort.
Gather Supporting Information From the Student
Resume and Transcript
The resume serves as a summary of the student's accomplishments, academic and work experiences, and the dates of these activities. The transcript can be helpful when writing a letter to support graduate school admission.
Purpose of the Letter
Ask the student about short and long-term goals, and the reasons behind pursuing a particular job or graduate program.
Be certain you know the recommendation deadline and to whom the letter should be sent. Is there anything specific regarding a particular job or graduate program that should be addressed in your letter? Are there key qualities or skills the student would like you to comment on? A copy of the job description can be helpful.
Write the Letter
When writing the recommendation, use a standard business letter format on department/university letterhead. Letters are generally one page and contain the information below. SEE SAMPLE FACULTY LETTER
Your relationship to the applicant and length of time you have known him or her.
- Share specific details that you are aware of relative to the applicant's skills, academic and student teaching performance (if appropriate), past work history or present job responsibilities, strengths or weaknesses, evidence of energy/motivation level, personality traits, and any unusual aspects that help describe the applicant's performance.
- Be specific and concrete, but do not exaggerate or inflate your comments. You want to help the student stand out, but also preserve your credibility as the author of the recommendation.
- Elaborate on how the student's skills and experiences relate to his/her choice of position, organization or graduate program. When the student is applying for a job, try to translate academic skills into business skills (i.e., the presentation and public speaking skills the student used in class demonstrates her ability to communicate with a wide variety of audiences). Emphasize the student's potential and why you believe this person is qualified for the job or admission to a graduate program.
Your telephone number and email address.
Save a copy of the recommendation letter for your files and provide a copy to the student. Students always appreciate receiving a copy of the recommendation that has been sent on their behalf.
Be aware that students may be utilizing online credential services such as Interfolio where your letters are submitted online.
Ask the student to let you know the outcome of his/her application.