Because of their nature and purpose, letters of recommendation almost always follow the same format. They normally consist of three paragraphs. The first paragraph states the purpose of the letter --that you're writing a letter of recommendation and identifies the person being recommended. It should establish credibility and explain how you know the individual, in what capacity, and for how long. Be very clear about the working relationship. That is, explain whether he or she was your subordinate, co-worker, etc. The relationship is the greatest factor in establishing credibility. If the writer is a co-worker, the reader may think this recommendation is merely a buddy doing another buddy a favor. If the author is a supervisor or a Senior NCO, the letter will have more influence. In general, the higher the rank, the more weight the recommendation will carry. Not just because of the rank but because the less personal and more distant the relationship, the less reason a person has to embellish on the subject's record.
The second paragraph, the body of the letter, should address whatever details are relevant to the recommendation. For example, if the position being sought requires supervisory skills, list examples of the subject's leadership in his or her current position. Use this paragraph to describe the character of the individual in general terms. List personal attributes that you feel are appropriate and for which you have direct knowledge.
Use the last paragraph for closing comments. Express your level of confidence in the individual. Explain the extent to which you believe he or she is suited to the job or program sought.
These letters are used as a basis for choosing leaders and filling key positions. Integrity demands that we always tell the truth in letters of recommendation. You should not write a letter of recommendation if you don't truly believe the person deserves to be recommended. It's your responsibility as a member of the Air Force to make sure the system is not abused. If someone asks you to write a letter of recommendation for them and you have any doubt as to whether they deserve it, find a way to avoid doing it or, if you have to, write a very vague and unenthusiastic recommendation. Below are examples of successful letters of recommendation.
Letter of Recommendation: James S. Sutterlin
17 North Chatsworth Ave. Apt. 6KL
Larchmont, NY 10538
Telephone and Fax 914 834 3902
May 8, 2015
To Whom it May Concern,
I am a retired Foreign Service Officer (Inspector General of the Foreign Service), a retired senior member of the United Nations Secretariat, and Distinguished Fellow and Instructor at Yale University. I am writing this memorandum to recommend Forrest Weaver for admission to the United States Air Force. Because of my need for various types of assistance since my retirement, I engaged the services of Mr. Weaver to help me, on the recommendation of one of his professors at the graduate school of the City University of New York in which he is now enrolled. Forrest Weaver has now been working for me for almost one year. His tasks are manifold, including maintenance of my financial records, payment of my obligations, summarizing for me incoming correspondence, including scholarly and literary works, and assisting me in the academic and literary writing that I undertake. To perform these functions Mr. Weaver requires a broad education and a keen intelligence.
Forrest Weaver meets all of the requirements listed above. His educational background covers both scientific and humanistic criteria. He is quick in grasping the sense of what is needed, whether it be in the maintenance of a bank account or the correction of a literary composition. He is always willing to learn if new knowledge is needed in completing his work. He has the initiative and the independence of mind to suggest corrections or improvements in works in progress when this may be in order. In summary, I have come to value his assistance highly as a young man of great promise in whatever career he may choose.
Mr. Weaver has spoken to me about various career options that he has considered and has told me of his decision to apply for admission to the United States Air Force. He told me that he has given this extensive thought, taking into account, among other things, that there is some history in his family of service in the Air Force. I believe that he will make a loyal, skillful and nimble Air Force officer. He has shown, in my opinion, all the necessary attributes (I'm familiar with the scores of the tests he has taken). I can recommend Forrest Weaver, without reservation, for acceptance and service in the United States Air Force.
James S. Sutterlin
United States Foreign Service Officer (Retired)
Senior Assistant and Speechwriter for the United Nations Secretary General
Distinguished Fellow and Instructor, Yale University
Adjunct Professor of Political Science, Long Island University
21 February 2013
Letter of Recommendation:
MEMORANDUM FOR WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
FROM: 11 XXX/XXXX
SUBJECT: Letter of Recommendation for SSgt (First Last)
1. I am pleased to provide my strongest recommendation for SSgt (First Last) to hold your next position as an instructor for (Job). She is a dynamic individual with impeccable bearing, positive attitude, and tireless work ethic. Moreover, her talents and leadership qualities have been instrumental towards a variety of domains, which have made people around her professionally grow and possess infectious unions.
2. (Name) is the type of Airman we need leading from the front. Furthermore, she is what I consider to be a “hard charger”; outshining her peers by multiple degrees. I have known her since (date), and during that time, she has impressed me as a bright, articulate, enthusiastic, reliable and very capable NCO and person. As her (how you know her, supervisor), there were many times I relied on her to perform tasks; she came through each time without complaint or hesitation. What’s more is she would be the one I leaned on to keep the flight organized, productive, and within standards as she shared her experiences and knowledge to keep the integrity of what the Air Force expects from our future Airmen, thus earning NCO of the Year.
3. As a (duty position), (name) has proven her performance ability since the start of her career. She has pursued several managerial and “public” opportunities, to include: managing the (...), coordinating deployment processing lines, and overseeing (...). Her primary duties aren’t the only activities that are noteworthy; she has also demonstrated an adept speaking aptitude: educating 1,500 deployers on (...), and reading scripts at the unit commander’s call. As you can see, she is the complete package and if I were the hiring authority, I would hire her in an instant!
4. Having been an (your experience or position)and having (X) years of AF experience, I understand what it takes to fulfill a high profile “special duty.” So again, I urge you to consider Andrea(name) for the position and I guarantee she will not disappoint; rather, she will continue to excel in this important duty. If you need additional information or would like to discuss my recommendation in greater detail, please contact me at DSN XXX-XXXX during normal duty hours Pacific Time or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
26 Dec 2012
To Whom it May Concern,
I have known Jayce Yeager for over two years (2008 - 2010). I was an immediate supervisor during his employment here at the Napa Distribution Center in Anchorage, Alaska. Jayce's responsibility was to keep the different sections of the DC stocked with appropriate product in that area. He worked in all the sections of the DC and was familiar with all the functions necessary for the DC to operate.
Jayce didn't require supervision and always completed his responsibilities as quickly as possible. His assigned area was always among the best stocked and neatest in the store. When he finished his duties, he frequently assisted other employees in their areas. He was well liked and an asset to our store. His co-workers frequently depended on his advice and his versatile and outstanding performance was recognized by DC management. He went beyond his duties as stocker and went on to will call position. Which is a function at the DC to pick parts for the local stores that are high priority.
In summary, I would not hesitate to recommend Jayce for any position he applies for. He is an intelligent, dependable, and capable worker. In my opinion he has all the skills necessary to be an effective supervisor and I hope that his next position is more challenging and rewarding because he certainly deserves it. His loyalty is beyond reproach.
Quality Assurance Manager
MEMORANDOM FOR RECORD
25 May 2010
FROM: 960 AACS/DOW
SUBJECT: Recommendation for SrA Schwarzenegger
1. The purpose of this letter is to recommend SrA Schwarzenegger for a quality assurance inspector position. SrA Schwarzenegger has proven himself to be a subject matter expert in his current position and shows great desire to progress into a field requiring more responsibility. I have no hesitation recommending SrA Schwarzenegger for this prestigious opportunity.
2. SrA Schwarzenegger has shown time and time again his dedication and competency to do outstanding work. Since SrA Schwarzenegger has been under my supervision, he has completed his 5 skill level upgrade and has been promoted above his peers to swing shift. SrA Schwarzenegger is currently being held to a high standard as a first-rate-instructor. He has streamlined his career and has great ambition for his future.
3. It is my sincere hope that you will consider SrA Schwarzenegger for this distinguished position. I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have about this subject. You can reach me at (555) 555-5555 or DSN 555-555. Thank you for your time.
GATLIN R. JOHNSON
21 Jul 2009
MEMO FOR United States Air Force Academy Admissions Office
FROM: 6th CS/SCM
SUBJECT: Letter of recommendation for SSgt Anthony Sims
To whom it may concern,
Staff Sergeant Anthony Sims has my highest recommendation for acceptance into the United States Air Force Academy. As a Master Sergeant with over 22 years in the United States Air Force and a vested interest in the future of our military, it is with the utmost care and sincerity that I recommend prospective leaders. Sergeant Sims' character and personnel records exceed my standard for the level of performance and behavior that I expect from our best young Airmen.
As Sergeant Sims' immediate supervisor, I have spent a great deal of time with him and can honestly say that he is positive, earnest, and professional at all times. He is an upright Non-commissioned Officer of high character, as evidenced by his total devotion to duty and his efforts to further his education. Not satisfied with merely doing his job, on his own initiative, he has continued to advance his education. He continuously seeks self improvement and accepts greater responsibility with humility. Sergeant Sims is the type of Airman that needs little or no supervision to get the job done. He is the epitome of the Air Force NCO and possesses enormous potential to be a great leader as an Air Force Officer. He maintains a rigorous physical training program that keeps him in top condition. His personnel record confirms what I have observed and you will see that this young man has continuously demonstrated that he has what it takes to be a sterling addition to the United States Air Force Officer Corps.
Sergeant Sims is not only a disciplined professional. He is a team player and gets along well with his team mates. His cheerfulness and consideration for others have made him an indispensable part of our unit. His fellow Airmen are drawn to him by his personality and sincere concern for others. I hope you will give this young man the opportunity to continue to excel both at the United States Air Force Academy and as a future Air Force Officer.
MSgt Wayne P. Pinckney, USAF
NCOIC, Civil Engineering, AC DIV
21 Jul 2009
MEMO FOR Keesler Air Force Base Training & Evaluation Office
SUBJECT: Letter of recommendation for TSgt Felicity Kendal
To whom it may concern,
It is my great honor to recommend TSgt Felicity Kendal for the position of NCOIC of Training and Instruction. I have known TSgt Kendal in a professional capacity for more than ten years. In that time, working both as a coworker and as a supervisor, I have always observed TSgt Kendal to be very knowledgeable in all aspects of our jobs as staff members supporting the communications division of the U.S. European Command. She has always been consistently helpful in any requirements whether planned or short-notice. She has a keen sense of anticipating needs, not only for communications support but for operational requirements as well.
TSgt Kendal was recently reassigned to the Future Plans office in the EUCOM J6 Division. In a surprisingly short period of time, she has turned around a fledgling operation and made it a highly professional and responsive unit. Her leadership style and personality have created an atmosphere where subordinates want to follow and perform to the highest expectations. The diverse work is performed with outstanding success and TSgt Kendal has earned a tremendous reputation not only from her immediate supervisor, subordinates, and peers, but also from the large joint community of communications specialists.
I am confident that, if selected, TSgt Kendal would perform beyond expectations as NCOIC of Training and Instruction just as she has here, in the Future Plans Office. Even though TSgt Kendal has only been on the J6 staff for six months, she has proven to me that she is capable of assuming the additional responsibilities required as head of Training and Instruction. If you have any questions or would like to discuss anything with me, please feel free to contact me at DSN 314-430-345X.
SMSgt Wanda C. Waverly, USAF
21 Jul 2009
To whom it may concern,
My name is MSgt Derek Westerfield and I am the NCOIC of the 1922nd Communications Squadron Plans and Programs office. I am recommending TSgt Wesley Johnson for the position of Element Leader. Sergeant Johnson's current assignment as Operations NCO requires a high degree of leadership, skill, judgement, and responsibility, all of which he possesses in abundance. As Operations NCO, he provides direct leadership and guidance to almost 20 personnel in several career fields.
Even though Sergeant Johnson is always busy with the administrative support tasks necessary to support a large workcenter, he manages to find time to become personally involved in resolving major process issues. I could probably count on one hand, the number of weekends that have passed without him being called into work to solve some crisis. His ability to analyze inter-agency problems, understand their cause, and establish workable and acceptable solutions is evidence of a great amount of disciplined self-study and on-the-job training. He is dedicated to providing the best possible service and sets an impeccable example for his subordinates to follow.
TSgt Johnson's leadership, initiative, and abilities exceed those of his peers and I believe that he is the best qualified candidate for the Element Leader position. I strongly recommend TSgt Johnson and feel confident that his performance will exceed your expectations.
MSgt Derek Westerfield, USAF
NCOIC, Plans and Programs
25 Sep 2009
To whom it may concern,
1. I work in the Land Mobile Radio office at Luke Air Force Base and am the government's representative for managing base radio operations and repair. In that capacity, I have worked with Mr Smith, who is employed by Sun City Transmissions, for over two years. During that time he has maintained the Land Mobile Radios supporting Luke Air Force Base under the annual maintenance contract.
2. During the time I have known and worked with him, Mr Smith has provided excellent and reliable service and met or exceeded all our contract requirements. He has repaired many of our hand-held radios that could not be included in the base maintenance contract because of their non-standard make at no charge. He has also analyzed base communications networks and made several recommendations that improved communications coverage at minimal cost.
3. Mr Smith's encyclopedic knowledge of radio maintenance and propagation has made him an indispensable member of Team Luke and something of a superstar among the disaster preparedness folks. His thoughtful and diligent efforts have ensured the safe and effective operations of the Flying Training Wing. I highly recommend him to anyone requiring 100% effective communications management.
Lynne Gilkey, YA-02
Land Mobile Radio Manager
24 October 2018
Memorandum from Major Frederick R. Moore (Ret)
Subject: US Air Force Officer Training School Recommendation for Michael F. Humphreys
To: United States Air Force Officer Training School Selection Board
It is a pleasure for me to write this letter of recommendation for Michael Humphreys. Michael recently graduated from The University of South Carolina in Columbia SC with a Criminal Justice degree and earning a 3.7 GPA in the process. Before attending college, he was a cadet in the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Program at Sumter High School for four years. As the Senior Aerospace Science Instructor during this period, I had the opportunity to observe him nearly every school day. He set a positive example for the entire cadet corps to emulate in the areas of leadership, service, and citizenship. He was a well-rounded and involved student who worked well with his classmates. His outstanding character and willingness to serve are exceptional qualities that made him stand out from his peers.
While in our program, he was the Deputy Group Commander. In this position he was responsible for supervising seven cadet flights, consisting of over 160 cadets. Michael was given this leadership position because of his past performance and potential for growth. He also excelled as a staff cadre cadet at the AFJROTC Cadet Officer Leadership School held at The Citadel. His superior leadership and management abilities contributed significantly to Sumter High School's AFJROTC accomplishing its mission of developing citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community.
Michael was an active member of our award winning drill team. He was also very active in community service and earned the AFJROTC Service Ribbon Award four times. Community service activities included but were not limited to: participation in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Buddy Poppy fundraiser for disabled veterans, Red Cross blood drives, and March of Dimes March for Babies.
Michael desires to attend OTS and ultimately become a rated Air Force officer. I highly recommend Michael Humphreys for selection to OTS. He will be an outstanding officer.
FREDERICK R. MOORE, Major, USAF (Ret)
Senior Aerospace Science Instructor