Common Mistakes to Avoid in LOR

Common Mistakes to Avoid in LOR

Common Mistakes to Avoid in LOR
Sonam YadavMon Jan 09 2023

There is a debate about the importance of a letter of recommendation (LOR) in an application. Some argue that the standardised format of a LOR makes it difficult to assess a student's abilities accurately. In contrast, others believe it is a crucial document that can help universities evaluate the validity of a student's claims and gauge how their peers perceive them. The LOR is often considered one of the most influential documents in an application, as it is the only third-party endorsement included. While students may put significant effort into their statement of purpose and resume, they may overlook the importance of a strong LOR, which can ultimately affect their chances of acceptance. Here are some of the common mistakes to avoid while writing LOR to increase the likelihood of acceptance:

Not following the guidelines:

It is essential to carefully read and follow any guidelines provided by the institution or organisation requesting the LOR. These guidelines may include the format of the letter (such as font size and type), the letter's length, and the submission deadline. Failing to follow these guidelines can make it seem like you are not taking the request seriously and may result in your LOR being rejected.

Not being specific:

A generic LOR that could apply to any student will not be as effective as one tailored to the specific applicant. To make your LOR more impactful, be specific about the applicant's achievements and abilities, and provide concrete examples to support your claims. For example, rather than simply saying that the applicant is a hard worker, describe a specific project or task that they excelled at and explain how their work ethic contributed to their success.

Not proofreading: It is essential to proofread your LOR to ensure that it is free of spelling and grammar errors. Not only can errors make your LOR difficult to read and understand, but they can also reflect poorly on the applicant and the writer. Take the time to carefully review your LOR for any mistakes before submitting it.

Not staying within the word limit:

If a word limit is provided, it is important to ensure your LOR does not exceed this limit. A LOR that is too long may not be read in its entirety, as the reader may need more time or attention span to read through a lengthy letter. On the other hand, a LOR that is too short may need to provide more information about the applicant, which could weaken its impact.

Not being sincere:

A LOR should be genuine and sincere and reflect your honest opinions about the applicant. Avoid using cliches or over-the-top praise that seems insincere, as this can undermine the credibility of your letter. Instead, focus on highlighting the applicant's unique qualities and accomplishments genuinely and authentically.

Not disclosing any conflicts of interest:

It is important to be transparent about any conflicts of interest with the applicant. A conflict of interest could be a personal relationship (such as a relative or close friend) or a vested interest in the applicant's success (such as being their supervisor). You must disclose a conflict of interest to make it seem like you are biased and may not be seen as a credible reference. To avoid this, disclosing any conflicts of interest at the beginning of your LOR is best so that the reader is aware of your relationship with the applicant.

Not being timely:

Submit your LOR promptly to ensure it reaches the intended recipient before the deadline. Be sure to carefully read the guidelines for submission to determine the deadline for the LOR, and submit it well in advance to allow for any unforeseen delays. This is especially important if the LOR is required as part of a competitive application process, as a late LOR may not be considered.

Not being confident:

While it is essential to be honest in your LOR, it is also important to be confident in your recommendation of the applicant. Feel free to highlight the applicant's strengths and accomplishments, and be sure to express your confidence in their ability to succeed in their studies or chosen careers. This can boost the applicant's confidence and give them an edge in the competitive application process.

Not asking for permission:

Before writing a LOR, asking the applicant for permission is important. This shows respect for the applicant's privacy and allows them to have some control over their application process. It is also a good idea to ask the applicant for their resume or CV and any additional information that may help write the LOR.

Not maintaining confidentiality:

A LOR is confidential and should not be shared with anyone other than the intended recipient. Maintaining the LOR's confidentiality helps protect the applicant's privacy and ensures that the letter is only seen by those who are meant to read it. Be sure to follow any guidelines provided for the submission of the LOR and only share the letter with people within the application process. This includes sharing the LOR on social media or posting it online.

Not being familiar with the applicant:

It is important to have a good understanding of the applicant and their accomplishments before writing a letter of recommendation (LOR). This means reviewing their resume or CV and discussing their goals and achievements with them. A strong familiarity with the applicant's background and accomplishments will help you write a more specific and detailed LOR tailored to their unique strengths and abilities. A LOR that lacks detail or familiarity with the applicant may not be as effective and may not convey the full extent of the applicant's potential.

Not being personal

A LOR should be personal and reflect your unique relationship with the applicant. This can make the letter more engaging and help it stand out among other LORs. To make your LOR more personal, include anecdotes or experiences that illustrate the applicant's character or abilities. For example, you could describe a specific project or task you worked on and how the applicant demonstrated leadership or teamwork skills during this project.

Not using the correct tone:

The tone of your LOR should be professional yet friendly. Avoid using language that is too casual or too formal, as this can make the letter seem insincere or distant. Instead, aim for a balanced tone that is respectful and professional but still reflects your genuine enthusiasm for the applicant.

Not using the correct format:

The format of your LOR is important, as it helps to make the letter look organised and professional. Make sure to follow the guidelines for the format of the letter, including the font, font size, and margin size. This will ensure that your LOR looks polished and professional and makes it easier for the reader to review.

Not including contact information:

Include your contact information (such as your email address and phone number) at the end of your LOR. This allows the reader to contact you with any questions or verify the letter's information. It is also a good idea to include your professional title and affiliation, as this helps to establish your credibility as a reference. With this information, the reader may be able to verify the information in your LOR or follow up with you for further details.

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