When recommending a person, use the first sentence or two of your letter to spell out the persons full name and after that refer to them only as Mr. or Ms. and last name, or he/she, but never use the first name only. Also, give the reader your connection to this person: employer, teacher, neighbor, friend, or through volunteering.
Focus on specific job accomplishments, skills and experience. You should also express your opinion of her moral character as an employee or an upstanding member of the community. Keep it down to two or three qualities at the most and support your statements with examples but do not undermine your credibility by using to many magnificent adjectives. Try to match your compliments and praise to the specific needs of the new potential employer.
Here are a few good phrases you may want to use: works independently and as a team member; do not hesitate to recommend; successfully completed all tasks; creative problem solver; energetic and enthusiastic employee; works well under pressure; organized and attentive to details.
Warning: Make sure you check with your company policy on employee information. Defending a defamation lawsuit can cost a company hundreds of thousands of dollars so it is no wonder they are wary about giving out any information. Many personnel departments need written permission from their employees before providing recommendations and even then they may only be allowed to verify that the person actually works there and the dates of employment and nothing else.
In the closing paragraph, summarize your recommendations and confidence in this person. Offer to answer any questions or provide more information if necessary.
Include your Name, Address, Phone Number and Email address as a letterhead or underneath the complimentary closing.
Insert the neatly folded letter in an unsealed envelope and give it to the person who requested it. This way, if they wish to, it can be read before sealing and mailing.