Writing a Short Recommendation Letter [with Sample]

A short recommendation letter can be sent for many reasons. The most common reasons are to help someone get a job or other position, a background check or for a personal reference. 

A person may request a letter of recommendation from a former employer, a direct supervisor or a friend. The letter should focus on the specific purpose. 

The person writing the letter should know as much as possible about the position that he or she is recommending. This way the letter can be tailored to suit the needs of both parties.

Personally Know The Person?

If the person recommending doesn’t personally know the person for whom he or she is writing the letter, they should spend some time with that person. 

They should familiarize themselves with the work and qualities of the person who asked for a recommendation.

If it’s impossible to write an honest and enthusiast letter, it is better to tell the requester that they should find someone else. The person should not write a half-hearted recommendation.

The sender should request a copy of all the information required for them to write an accurate letter. This may include the requester’s resume, list of completed projects, personal qualifications and a list of points the requester would like the letter to emphasize. 

If an employee is requesting a letter from their own supervisor or human resources person, the person should make sure they are following their company’s policy for sending letters of recommendation.

Some of the personal characteristics to include are:

  • Intelligence
  • Analytic ability
  • Organizational skills
  • Level of experience
  • Reliability
  • Ability to work with others

It may not be a good idea to put their reputation on the line by recommending someone with whom the person is unfamiliar. In most cases, only someone who knows a candidate will write a letter of recommendation.

The letter should cover all the necessary points and be specific. A minor criticism can be included if it shows a positive outcome.

The candidate may have overcome a personal shortcoming. It should also follow regular business letter style to be a professional communication.

The most important things to include in the recommendation letter are:

  • Specific examples of the abilities of the candidate not vague references
  • Compare the candidate’s abilities to others in the field if they are superior
  • Plausible facts and not give expectations that are too high to meet. Exaggeration is not a good idea.
  • The letter needs to have substance and not look like a quick note but should be on one page.
  • Use active voice whenever possible
  • Give a strong recommendation at the close of the letter

The person who receives the letter needs to be impressed enough to want to employ the person recommended, but they shouldn’t feel that the letter is overdone and probably false. It’s important to emphasize the qualities that the receiving company or place of business values.

Here is a sample of a short recommendation letter. It should be sent by certified mail, so the sender has proof of the time and date the letter was received.

If there are any enclosures such as a recent work evaluation, it should be a copy and not an original document.

Short Recommendation Letter Sample

Your Name
Your Address
City, State, Zip Code


Receiver’s Name
Receiver’s Address
City, State, Zip Code

Dear Name of Receiver,

I am writing this letter to give the highest possible recommendation for Name of Person, for the position of energy-efficiency project manager for your company.

I was Name of Person’s supervisor for the past three years in the field of setting up recycling systems for small businesses and large corporations, so I know her capabilities. She is the hardest working and most enthusiastic team member I have ever had.

Name of Person was always planning ahead and anticipating problems in a variety of situations. Several times she was able to innovate solutions and impressed our clients with the systems our team created. 

She also reduced the energy consumption by 20 percent for a shoe manufacturing company by suggesting they upgrade some of their machines. In fact, she was the leader in finding solutions on every job we did this past year.

She is very even tempered and rarely gets upset or angry. On several occasions, she was the mediator when the team disagreed, and she brought everyone to a satisfactory solution.

I have been her supervisor for the entire time she was working for our company and have watched her develop leadership qualities and gain a deep understanding of the business.

I have no hesitation in recommending her for the energy-efficiency project manager in your company, and believe she will be a great asset for you.

If you have any questions or would like more information, I can be reached at 555-123-4567 or at Name@email.com.


Your Signature
Your Name Printed