Thursday, July 11, 2013

Guidelines I Follow When Writing Recommendations

I relish the opportunity to write recommendations for others I have come to know through my roles as a professor, higher education administrator, consultant, and leader in business and professional organizations. As I have written many such letters over the years, my challenge is to craft documents that crackle with energy while capturing the qualities and achievements that make each person I encounter different.  Here's how I meet this challenge:

* I must know the individual well enough to have the basis for a recommendation, more specifically in terms of having substantive experience of their work in one or more areas by virtue of the particular role I filled (e.g., higher education administrator).

* I limit the scope of my recommendation to these areas as they pertain to my role.  I would never, for example, comment on an individual's public speaking skills if I had not heard him or her speak.

* I identify and comment on the positive attributes or behaviors the individual displayed in these same areas.  Using this general guideline, I have always been able to find many things to write about! If for some reason I couldn't find anything positive to discuss about a person, I would gracefully decline the opportunity to write the recommendation.

* I create each recommendation letter from scratch, neither using a past document as an example nor consulting words or phrases I tend to incorporate in such writing.  Instead, I want to craft a document as spontaneously as possible after reflecting on my experience of the individual and assessing their strengths and positive attributes

The bottom line is that I feel comfortable and confident writing recommendations based on these general guidelines, and look forward to many more opportunities to do so in the coming years. 

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