What You Say When You Write Letters Of Recommendation
For advice about writing a letter, we can think of no person more qualified to give it than Letitia Baldrige. Ms Baldrige has spent her career around individuals of power, wealth, and influence. Her father was a member of Congress. She became famous as the social secretary to Jacqueline Kennedy. Her brother Howard Malcolm Baldrige, Jr. was Secretary of Commerce. Ms Baldrige currently serves on the board of directors of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
Here is Ms. Baldrige’s advice about writing letters of recommendation.
- Write the letter immediately after you have agreed to it, preferably within 24 hours. Otherwise, you may forget it or you may not do it.
- Don’t write the letter in a rush, or it might be counterproductive.
- Include the person’s bio if available so that you won’t have to go into the details of his or her background.
- Before composing the letter, make a list of the person’s affirmative points. Be sure to cover them in the letter.
- If you have been requested to write a letter of recommendation that you would prefer not to write, you can write “a lukewarm letter” that sends immediate caution signals to the a discerning recipient.
- When you have sent a reference letter for a friend, don’t send him or her a copy of your letter “unless it is gripping in hyperbole.”
- Do however send a note saying that you sent off an enthusiastic reference letter in his behalf and indicate the date that you sent it.
- Remember to include all necessary information in your letters of reference. If appropriate, give the person’s full name, business title and business address, home address if pertinent, the names of family members and children’s ages if pertinent. (Whatyousay thinks you should be cautious about following this advice. You probably should ask the individual if he or she wants you to provide this information.)
- If you are proposing someone for membership to a club, indicate the name of the seconder or others providing endorsement letters. If the individual being proposed is a terrific golfer or tennis player, say so if proposing someone for a club with athletic facilities.
–Adapted and excerpted from “Letitia Baldrige’s Complete Guide To Executive Manners. ” We here at whatyousay.com think it is a wonderful book and refer to it often. Highly recommended–Gene Griessman, Ph.D.
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