Sample Recommendation Letter - Harvard Recommendation

What a Business School Recommendation Should Look Like

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Admissions committees want to know more about your work ethic, leadership potential, teamwork ability, and accomplishments so they rely, in part, on recommendation letters to learn more about who you are as a student and a person. Most academic programs, especially in the business field, require two to three letters of recommendation as part of the admissions process.

Key Components of a Recommendation Letter

The recommendations you submit as part of the application process should:

  • Be written by people who know you well enough to provide convincing details.
  • Support and supplement other application materials, such as your resume and essay.
  • Highlight your strengths or counteract things that make you look bad, such as a low GPA.
  • Contain one or more specific examples that demonstrate the key points of the letter.
  • Convincing and avoid contradicting other parts of your application. 
  • Accurately reflect who you are as a person, student, and professional. 
  • Well-written and free of spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors.
  • Signed by the person who wrote the letter.

Sample Harvard Recommendation Letter

This letter is written for a Harvard applicant who wants to major in business. This sample contains all of the key components of a recommendation letter and serves as a good example of what a business school recommendation should look like.

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to recommend Amy Petty for your business program.

As the General Manager of Plum Products, where Amy is currently employed, I interact with her on an almost daily basis. I am very familiar with her position in the company and her record of excellence. I also conferred with her direct supervisor and other members of the human resources department regarding her performance prior to writing this recommendation.

Amy joined our human resources department three years ago as a Human Resources Clerk. In her first year with Plum Products, Amy worked on an HR project management team that developed a system to increase employee satisfaction by assigning employees to jobs for which they are best-suited. Amy's creative suggestions, which included methods for surveying workers and assessing worker productivity, proved invaluable in the development of our system. The results for our organization have been measurable - turnover was reduced by 15 percent in the year after the system was implemented, and 83 percent of employees reported being more satisfied with their job than they were the year before.

On her 18-month anniversary with Plum Products, Amy was promoted to Human Resources Team Leader. This promotion was a direct result of her contributions to the HR project as well as her exemplary performance review. As a Human Resources Team Leader, Amy has a vital role in the coordination of our administrative functions. She manages a team of five other HR professionals. Her duties involve collaborating with upper management to develop and implement company and departmental strategies, assigning tasks to the HR team, and resolving team conflicts.

The members of Amy's team look to her for coaching, and she often serves in a mentor role.

Last year, we altered the organizational structure of our human resources departments. Some of the employees felt a natural behavioral resistance to the change and exhibited varying levels of disenchantment, disengagement, and disorientation. Amy's intuitive nature alerted her to these issues and helped her assist everyone through the change process. She provided guidance, support, and training as necessary to ensure the smoothness of the transition and to improve the motivation, morale, satisfaction of other members on her team.

I consider Amy a valuable member of our organization and would like to see her get the additional education she needs to progress in her management career. I think she would be a good fit for your program and would be able to contribute in numerous ways.

Sincerely,

Adam Brecker, General Manager of Plum Products

Analysis of the Sample Recommendation

Let's examine the reasons why this sample Harvard recommendation letter works.

  • The letter writer defines his connection to Amy, explains why he is qualified to write the recommendation, and confirms Amy's position within the organization.
  • Recommendations should provide specific examples of accomplishments. This letter does that by mentioning Amy's role and achievements on the HR project.
  • Admission committees want to see professional growth - this letter shows it by mentioning Amy's promotion.
  • Leadership potential and capability are important, especially for individuals applying to top business programs. This letter not only states that Amy is in a leadership position, it also provides an example related to her leadership capability. 

More Sample Recommendation Letters

See 10 other sample recommendation letters for college and business school applicants.