Reference Letter vs Recommendation Letter

You might be asking yourself, is a reference letter and a recommendation letter the same? The answer to that would be no, despite some people using them as if they were. It is always a good idea to check when applying for a new job or academic place whether you are required to hand in one or the other, or both. Different companies will want different things and this is the same for academic bodies. To say that one is more important over the other would be incorrect as they each have their own advantages. Make sure you know how to ask for a recommendation letter or reference letter and when you do that they are aware of the differences.

What is the Difference Between a Reference Letter vs Recommendation Letter?

The main point to realise is that a recommendation letter is a document written about you in a professional manner while a reference letter is a more personal account. Together, they help the recipient to know you better in both senses if they have asked for both. Application processes that strongly favour professional success may only require a recommendation letter and vice versa for applications that prefer knowing their candidates on a more personal level; focusing more on the reference letter.

Recommendation Letter vs Reference Letter

Why a Reference Letter is Important

A letter of reference is included in an application process when the company or school want to know more specific information about a person. This can be used to your advantage to emphasise positive, personal qualities. When asking someone to write a reference letter format on your behalf, these points can act as a good outline:

  • It is an opportunity to show individuality from a pile of similar applications
  • They can relate your personal qualities to why you would be good for the position
  • The chance to talk about you specifically, your interests and hobbies
  • Try to make your individual traits relatable to transferrable skills

  • Talk about positive experiences

Why a Recommendation Letter is Important

The reason why you might be asked for a recommendation letter is so to give an idea about your previous working history and what tasks or skills, in particular, you are successful with. It is a good way to demonstrate your abilities and how you will be an asset to wherever you are applying. It might be useful to emphasise these points when asking your reference to write your recommendation letter format:

  • It should display your strengths, what you are good at with specific examples
  • Drawing on particularly successful experiences from your professional career or education will show you in a positive light
  • Your professional qualities can exhibit how you would fit in to the position applied for
  • Provide a summary of your working history (professional or educational or both)
  • It gives an idea of your capabilities, showing how you are suited for the position

Recommendation letter samples will help you understand the difference more clearly.

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