Applying for jobs or admittance into a university can be a stressful experience. Playing the waiting game while someone else makes important life choices for you isn't fun. You may have the grades, the extracurricular activities and the overall goods to merit inclusion, but sometimes that isn't enough. When it comes time to land that dream job, internship, fellow seat or pretty much anything else that requires weeks of sweating it out over acceptance, you're going to want a few good letters of recommendation in your arsenal.
When two applicants are in a dead heat for the final spot, a good letter of recommendation may just be the deciding factor. Almost any job or program will require at least one letter of recommendation, and it never hurts to have more than one at your disposal.
You may also be asked to write a letter of recommendation for someone else from time to time. It's up to the person asking for the letter to know exactly what the particular program or institution is looking for, but it's ultimately up to you to write a letter that may be a factor in their acceptance. No pressure. While the details of the letter are up to you, there's a standard format to follow that'll make you seem like you know what you're doing. Or more importantly, that the applicant was wise enough to choose someone who knows what he or she is doing.
We'll break down the format for a standard letter of recommendation on the next page.