How to Write a Letter of Recommendation: Tips & Examples 📝

  • Remote Working & Freelancing
Contra Tips
· 7 min read

Learn to provide professional references for freelancers with our must-read guide that covers how to write a letter of recommendation and includes a template.

Nailing the perfect letter of recommendation can feel like an art form, especially for a freelancer who's brought something special to your project. Whether you're lauding their punctuality, unique skill set, or game-changing creativity, translating that appreciation into words that resonate is challenging.

Fear not — this guide will teach you how to write a letter of recommendation that shines as brightly as your freelancer's performance. We'll break down the essentials of what makes a letter stand out, share insider tips for making your endorsement compelling, and provide templates to get you started. Ready to turn your appreciation into commendation? Let’s dive in.

What’s a letter of recommendation? ✍️

A letter of recommendation is a message expressing someone’s skill set and proficiencies to assure the reader they’re worth working with. While in the past these were written documents sent to schools and companies, nowadays you’ll typically send this letter digitally, via email or a reference upload page. 

Here are a few of the most common instances where you’d send a letter of recommendation:

  • If you’re a teacher and a student has asked for one for their grad school application
  • If you’re an employer and an ex-staff member has asked for one for a new job or educational opportunity
  • If you’re a client and a freelancer has asked for one to gain more gig work

Things to consider before accepting a letter request 🤔

Writing someone a reference letter suggests that you’ve worked with them in a professional capacity and that you stand by their character, skills, and expertise. Before taking on this responsibility, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have you worked with the person and seen how they perform in various situations?
  • Do you know their skills and strengths — have you seen them used personally?
  • What projects did you work with the person on, and were they relevant to the new opportunity in question?
  • Do you have several positive things to say about this person?
  • Can you provide examples of their work? 

If you aren’t able to answer most of these questions, respectfully let the person know you aren’t the right fit for this favor. 

How to write a letter of recommendation: 8 key elements 🖊️

Understanding the letter of recommendation format will help you to write one in no time. A common question is “How long should a letter of recommendation be?” The following outline determines the typical length as well as how to start a letter of recommendation:

  1. The date the letter was written
  2. The recipient's name and job title
  3. The recipient’s address 
  4. A personal introduction that explains who you are, what your relationship to the applicant is, and your professional area of expertise
  5. The reasons for your recommendation, which should include qualifications the candidate has and skills or examples of work they’ve done that relate to the position in question
  6. A personal story that highlights these skills and elaborates on what your experience working with the candidate was like
  7. A closing statement that includes the most relevant information already stated and reinforces your reasoning as to why the candidate is a good choice for the opportunity
  8. A signature with contact information, such as your email or phone number, in case whoever reads the letter of recommendation wants to discuss something further

5 tips for writing a letter of recommendation 🧾

You’ve got the general outline — now to add some finesse. Here are five tips for writing an excellent reference letter, one that’ll help the receiver land great gigs.

1. Tailor it to the role 🧑‍💻

Crafting a standout recommendation letter begins with insight. Dive into the specifics of the role the freelancer is eyeing, just as you would refine a resume to avoid a generic feel. Seek a clear picture of the job and the sought-after skills from the freelancer. This focus turns your letter into a sharp, compelling advocate for their application.

2. Highlight relevant qualifications 💪

Channel the essence of a resume — spotlight qualifications that align seamlessly with the job in question. Is it a leadership role? Bring to the fore any relevant degrees and key skills such as leadership, communication, and grace under pressure. The aim? A letter that resonates.

3. Keep it professional 💼

A recommendation letter is your professional voice lending credence to the freelancer’s abilities. Maintain a tone that’s both businesslike and earnest, showcasing your sincere endorsement. Concision is key, and reviewing examples can fine-tune your approach, ensuring clarity and impact.

4. Maintain a positive outlook 😁

Your letter is a beacon of support, so let positivity shine through every word. Steer clear of ambiguity or hints of reservation — phrases like "has potential" can subtly undermine the candidate. Instead, opt for affirming language that underscores the freelancer’s strengths, painting them as an exemplary choice.

5. Don’t forget to proofread 👀

Credibility can crumble with a single typo. Before sending your letter, scrutinize it for any grammatical slip-ups. Reading aloud can spotlight potential oversights, ensuring your endorsement is polished and poised for maximum impact.

A letter of recommendation template 📋

Action all this guidance right away by reviewing and filling in the following letter of recommendation template. 

Dear [name of recipient]

It's my pleasure to recommend [name of applicant] for [position] at [company name].

My name is [your name], and I’m a [your position] at [company name]. I have [years of experience] in this industry, and while I’ve worked with many freelancers throughout my career, [applicant name] has really impressed me.

[applicant name], who has a [level and name of qualification], worked with me/for me on projects like [provide a few projects]. They displayed knowledge of [list knowledge displayed] and used skills like [provide examples of skills used]. 

Because of how they [insert achievements, skills, examples of a situation], I highly recommend them for the [name of position] position. 

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me at [provide contact details]. 

Kind regards, 

[your name]


[company name]

A letter of recommendation example 📒

Here’s a reference letter example to bolster your use of the previous template. 

Dear Johanna Smith,

It's my pleasure to recommend Smith Johnson for the content writing position at The Writing Company.

My name is Adam, and I’m a lead editor at Top Content Digital Marketing Agency. I have 15 years of experience in this industry, and while I’ve worked with many freelancers throughout my career, Smith Johnson has really impressed me.

Smith, who has a bachelor's degree in digital marketing and journalism, worked with me on projects like XYZ Company's content marketing plan, where he created content for the company's website and subsequent blog posts. He excelled in the following areas: quick and effective content and copy creation, SEO practices, time management, and proofreading. We even offered him a bonus quite early on because his work was exceptional.

Because he created so much compelling, well-written copy in such a short time and never missed any deadlines, I highly recommend him for the content writer position. 

If you have any questions, you can contact me at or (555) 123-1234. 

Kind regards, 

Adam Smith

Lead editor

Top Content Digital Marketing

Recommend freelancers on Contra ✔️

Put your knowledge about writing letters of recommendation to use right away by recommending freelancers on Contra, an Independent-forward community that matches clients with the best in the biz — commission-free. Save time and money searching around and let us pair you up depending on your industry and project-specific needs. Sign up today!

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