5

I have worked in the IT department with my current employer for a few years. I am planning to leave this job soon. My department head has agreed to sign a recommendation letter for me.

However, he is not my direct manager. He is the department head, while I am leading a working level support team. He is like my manager's, manager's, manager. He's a nice person and has agreed to do this as a good gesture.

He asked me to draft the letter and let him review. But I have no idea where to start. Should I describe my job from his angle? Should I just give a short summary because he doesn't know my duties well as he doesn't managed me directly.

  • Just to make it clear, the recommendation letter is meant for you, to be written/signed by the department head, but they have asked you to draft a copy? – Nimesh Neema Jun 25 at 9:38
  • @NimeshNeema Yes. The letter is for me. My department head will review, amend and sign on it. I will use this letter for my future job interview. – Mark Jun 25 at 9:41
  • Is this a recommendation for school or for another professional position? – Jay Jun 25 at 9:55
  • @Jay it is for my future job hunting not for schooling. – Mark Jun 25 at 10:10
3

The contents of the letter depend on a lot of factors. What purpose are you going to use this letter for. Is it going to be for a job? or an academic endeavour? Maybe you are looking to make use of the good gesture of the department head to get a signed letter which you could use in future?

If you have a clear-cut purpose in your mind, put it in the question, and the content of the letter can be varied.

However, if you are trying to get a general purpose letter, you can keep the body short and simple. Make sure to include the nature of your work and day-to-day duty while on the job.

To whomsoever it may concern,

I have known Mark as an employee who lead the team in companies IT department. I found him to be diligent with his duties and always showing enthusiasm in his professional life. He has an innate desire to learn and grow as a professional.

I would certainly welcome any opportunity in the future if he wish to work with the organization again.

I have no doubt that he'll be will be a valuable addition to any team that he works with in future.

I wish his good luck and success in his future endeavours.

The above is just a starting point for a generic recommendation letter. Do not try to use template/copy-pasted content. Originally and simplicity trumps down adornments any given day. Advise you to keep it short and simple, such that it gets read in a short glance.

5

A great recommendation letter is brief (1 page) and includes at least:

1. A description of the relationship between recommender and the recommended individual. How long have you known each other? How closely did you work?

2. A general affirmation that the recommended individual is a good fit for the program/role. The letter should identify specific skills or experiences needed by the program/role being applied to and affirm that the individual possesses them.

3. A specific anecdote or a detailed discussion of an exceptional attribute of the recommended individual. Stories are memorable - what was a specific time that the recommended individual really demonstrated their strengths?

4. Thanks to those considering the application. It’s always a good idea to thank the reader.

You or the recommender could add or re-order as appropriate - no need to stick to a strict structure if it isn’t how the letter would have been written otherwise.

Avoid using the online templates for recommendation letters. They are impersonal and obvious.


An aside: I imagine you’ll get some protest over the approach you and your colleague are taking to create the letter, but it’s normal for recommendations to be drafted by the recommended individual and later edited and sent by the recommender. Just make sure your recommender has plenty of time to edit and submit the letter after you draft it.

  • Re #4. Usually these letters are written as if dept head etc wrote them. Thanking the reader for their consideration would seem a bit odd if not coming from the candidate (even if they did write the initial draft), it's like breaking character. – user10399 Jun 25 at 13:41
  • @KeithLoughnane, I’m suggesting that the recommender thank the recruiter for the opportunity to recommend a colleague and for taking the time to read the letter - apologies that I was ambiguous. – Jay Jun 25 at 23:58

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