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Guidelines for Recommendation Letters

Letters of recommendation are used to gather additional information about a candidate for employment, graduate study, scholarship or other opportunity. It should give an overall picture of the candidate's:

Personal characteristics
Performance
Experience
Strengths
Capabilities/ skills
Professional promise/ goals

Preferably, the person writing the letter of recommendation should be in a working or academic relationship with the applicant. The letter should be about one page in length and include an introduction, body, and conclusion.

Introduction: the writer should explain the relationship between himself/herself and the candidate as well as why the letter is being written.

The body: of the recommendation should provide specific information about the candidate. Information may
include:

1. Personal characteristics such as poise, confidence, dependability, patience, creativity, etc.
2. Abilities such as knowledge of the subject area, problem solving abilities, ability to manage
students, ability to work with colleagues and parents, curriculum development, etc.
3. Specific areas of strength or special experiences. The candidate may have some exceptional strengths such as a very high energy level or excellent communication skills.

Conclusion: The closing of the letter should briefly summarize previous points and clearly state that the writer recommends the candidate for the position, graduate program, scholarship or opportunity they are seeking.The recommendation letter should be written in language that is straightforward and to the point.

Minimum three recommendation letters are required

Applicants should request recommendations from individuals who are familiar with their academic achievement and potential. If they have been out of school for a number of years and are unable to contact former professors, letters from other individuals who can address their professional achievement and potential will be accepted. At least two of the references should be from people who have seen  an applicant do social work or related work.

Applicants should suggest to their social work recommenders' to use the following questions (guidelines) for writing the recommendation letter: