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Writing Recommendations

with Judy Steiner-Williams

Video: Introduction

Discover how to write and respond to requests for recommendations.
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Writing Recommendations
Video Duration: 0s 10m 57s Appropriate for all


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In this short course, Kelley School of Business lecturer and author Judy Steiner-Williams shows you the elements of a strong recommendation letter and how to use specificity to make your remarks memorable and relevant. At the end of the course, you'll also see how to ask for a recommendation if you need someone to write one for you.



Hi, I'm Judy, and in this course, I'll show you how to write effective recommendation letters. A former coworker, a current subordinate, or a close friend has just asked you to write a letter of recommendation. You should feel honored and, in one sense, do because generally we ask only those people whose opinions we value and those who we think will give us a positive recommendation to write one for us. However, you may also feel some trepidation.

What are the legal implications, for example, if I say something that doesn't prove to be true? Am I at risk? What if I worked with a person two years ago, and have no recent knowledge? Or someone who is a friend, but I've never worked with her? Those are legitimate concerns. However, you will be asked by those who are deserving. You will be knowledgeable about those with whom you've recently worked. So in those situations, you should agree to write that positive, deserving recommendation letter. Once you've agreed, that person expects you to, and you have a responsibility to, take seriously writing that letter.

On the other hand, you may be the one requesting a recommendation letter. How you ask for one is equally important. So let's analyze how to plan and write a recommendation letter, and how to request one. Let's get started with writing recommendation letters.

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