How to Make an Impressive Letter of Recommendation (LOR)?
By now, I am sure you are well aware that your letter of recommendation is one of the essential documents of your application. Choosing the right recommender essentially depends on your equation and association with the recommender. Your selected recommender must be able to present and justify your candidature in the most effective manner, preferably with the aid of instances and anecdotes. The recommender must have a clear idea about specific attributes, project work, and instances that can be cited in the recommendation. Also, it is important not to simply mention the instances but also the manner in which the same is presented would add value to the LOR.
While preparing your LORs, one aspect of the LOR that is of paramount importance is that all the LORs should preferably contain unique content. This means that you need to include unique anecdotes pertaining to your academic and professional experiences and proficiencies. Hence, choose two recommenders who can offer a similar perspective though from two rather different instances of your association.
Elaborating on the same, say we are talking about a LOR for an MS course. If you have submitted two Academic LORs, then you must focus on getting two recommenders who can talk about two rather different things. For instance, one of your professors can talk about your learning during your internship, while the other talks about maybe one of your seminars or workshops. For instance, if one of your recommenders mentions “ABC’s technical as well as managerial skills were demonstrated during one of his projects titled 'Enhancing Efficiency of Screw Press Oil Expeller Roller', where he proved his expertise in problem-solving, innovation, design and manufacturing”, the other recommenders must present some other achievements of yours.
Even while preparing your professional LORs for MBA Courses, you must brief your recommenders about this. Example, if the recommender says something like “I remember when we were discussing some technical options and upgrades to the basic design of our product, ABC voraciously read various online journals, company operations profiles, and user-interaction details. This helped us to choose the best architecture option for the availability and performance of the application focused on the target customer needs. We saved a lot of time and effort by choosing the right path early and ABC played the key role in making this happen”. The other recommenders, even if they belong to the same organization, must make it a point not to include this example. Also, until and unless specified, the format for MBA LOR would only vary in content from that of an MS LOR.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind while drafting a LOR:
- The given information should be accurate and relevant
- Avoid copying from online samples. The Admissions Committee are very strict when it comes to plagiarism. Take inspiration, do not copy!
- The recommender should write positive traits about the individual
- The language and composition of the LOR should be simple and lucid
- During the final brush up of your LOR, take a close look at all the grammatical mistakes and rectify them
- The most important aspect of an impressive LOR is that the sentences are short and on-point. Lengthy sentences tend to break the flow of the LOR and fail to convey the crux of what is stated, to the reader
- LORs should be crisp and written in not more than 500-600 word limit, fitting one page
- In a professional LOR, ‘discuss’ the role and responsibilities of the individual and highlight the traits displayed. Do not ‘describe’ job responsibilities, or else it would sound more like a CV rather than a LOR.
- The recommender should have known you for at least six months
- It is also important to provide the accurate contact details of the recommender
Remember that making generic statements in LOR does not add any value to the document. How you prepare an impressive LOR depends on the level of your competencies displayed by the content of your LOR. Thus, including unique anecdotes indicative of your skills and goals in your recommendation letters creates a positive and long-lasting impression on the Admission Committee.