If you know of a student who is deserving of a good scholarship to aid in their studies, one of the best things you can do for them is write an outstanding letter of recommendation. These types of letters are important to obtaining things like scholarships or jobs because they comment on the applicant’s work ethic and do not just list their work history. A person can learn about someone’s strengths and weaknesses through the letter, things a resume will not reveal to the person making scholarship decisions.
If you care about your student or friend’s success, you can take a step further and help them rework their resume and cover letter. These are two things are important to getting a scholarship because they are the first two things a recruiter sees when deciding if the student is deserving of the scholarship. Go the extra mile for the student in your life and work with them on drafting an eye-catching resume and cover letter. If you need additional help in both these fields, we offer a course on the subject, which can help you brush up on these skills and help you teach them to the student in your life. In the course, you will further understand the purpose of a resume, what to include and how to format a resume, using action words to grab a person’s attention, how to condense it down to one page and more.
Drafting the Perfect Letter of Recommendation
A letter of recommendation puts the pressure on you to be able to illustrate the student’s work ethic and personality in a one-page document. That’s a lot to put into one page. But first, let’s focus on the more simple part: the greeting.
If you are representing a company, make sure the company’s name and/or logo is on the header. Depending on the company, it will hold a lot of weight for the student. If a student is receiving a recommendation from an employee at a respected business, it stands out to the person reading the letter. If that’s the case for you, play up the business to its strengths. Use it to help the student get noticed.
The second part is an important one as well: your contact information. If the person reading your letter wants to follow up on the student’s performance, experience and work ethic, you will need to be available to discuss these topics. Make sure to include your name, the best professional address for you, as well as a professional email and phone contact.
Now, for the body. THE most important part of the recommendation letter. This is where you will discuss the student’s strengths, weaknesses, work ethic and your overall relationship with them. If you believe the student in your life deserves a scholarship, you will need to put the work into it to convince people that the student is deserving. In doing so, you need to be confident in your writing skills so that you can convey this in a persuasive manner. If you are not sure of your writing skills or think you may need a refresher, sharpen your skills with this writing course we offer. With it, you will learn how to communicate clearly and effectively to get the student you are working with to stand out. You can also learn more about becoming a better writer through this blog, which will highlight important aspects of writing.
When it comes to the bulk of it, you want to include in your letter of recommendation what makes the student unique. The best way to do this is to use real-life examples from your experience with the student. Was there a time where they stepped up and went above and beyond your expectations? If so, write about it in the letter. It’s easy to say ‘so-and-so is hard working and punctual,’ but using examples to illustrate their personality takes it a step further and lets the person reading the letter get to know the student better.
In order to make the student’s personality come to life, you need to write with personality. But writing with personality can be hard, especially if writing is not your strong suit. In order to write with personality, you need to understand how to write clearly and simply. Once you have that mastered, you can practice adding personality into your writing. This course not only teaches you how to write with flair, but it also teaches you how to write quickly, so you’re not toiling over what to write for more than you should. Some of the things you will learn in this course include how to avoid repeating yourself, steer clear of redundancies, presenting yourself in a professional manner, avoiding cliches, how to keep ideas neat and parallel and more.
Going the Extra Mile
If you are invested in the student and really want to help them reach their scholarship goal, take time to research the scholarship and the student’s drive. Get to know what they want to do and study in school so you can better craft a letter of recommendation for them. It is also worth the time to get to know the scholarship they are applying for better. That way, you can highlight the student’s abilities that coincide with what the scholarship committee is looking for in a recipient. People especially pay attention when you take the time to find out their name and title and address them by their name. The age-old To Whom It May Concern is sufficient, but it won’t make you stand out among a stack of other letters. Take the extra time to find that information and use it. Making the letter personal will be one more thing to get the student you are working with noticed.
Once you are finished with your letter, you need to make sure it is perfect and good to send off. This means being 100 percent sure that it is solid, all the information is up-to-date and correct and there are not any typos, grammatical or spelling errors in the letter. If you send your letter without double checking it and editing your work, there is a chance that you could send over a typo-heavy letter that could potentially harm the student’s chances of getting the scholarship they want. Sometimes, however, it can be hard to edit your own work. The best way to comb your copy for errors is to write your letter, put it aside for an hour and then take a look at it. By waiting, you will get a brain refresher and the copy will look new to you after some time. If you are unsure on how to properly edit your work (or any kind of work), we offer a course that can teach you how to edit better. In addition to learning how to properly edit copy, you will also learn technical writing, which is a good skill to have. What technical writing does is get to the point in a concise way. You learn how to convey an idea quickly and effectively with precision. Knowing the basics of technical writing is not only good for letter writing, but it is great for communicating overall.
If you are committed to these tips and learning new writing skills, you will be able to persuade a scholarship committee so the student in your life can get the scholarship they want.