Adjectives for Letter of Recommendation

Effective and relevant adjectives for letter of recommendation writing. How to make a compelling impression with your letter of recommendation.

adjectives for recommendation letter

A good letter of recommendation highlights an individual's positive characteristics, skills, strengths, competencies and achievements.  Letters of recommendation are used for:

  • employment opportunities
  • academic admissions
  • leadership positions
  • volunteering positions
  • program admissions

What is a good letter of recommendation?

Knowing the right adjectives for your letter of recommendation will increase its effectiveness and impact.

How to select the best adjectives for a letter of recommendation

There are a number of easy steps to take before deciding what to focus on in your letter of recommendation.

1. Gain a good understanding of the purpose of the letter of recommendation

Find out what the reason is for the letter of recommendation request and how the letter will be used.

2. Have a good understanding of the requirements for the positon or program the individual is applying for

If the letter is to support a job application, ask for a copy of the job description or job posting. If it is for admission to a program ask for details of the program. Ask the applicant which skills and qualities they would like you to highlight in your letter of recommendation.

3. Gain good knowledge of the individual's experience. skills and accomplishments

To support what you know about the individual ask them for a copy of their resume to gain a more complete picture.

4. Select strong and targeted adjectives for your letter of recommendation

Make sure your adjectives are relevant to the purpose of the letter of recommendation. For example the qualities required for admission to a academic program will be different to those required for a leadership role. 

10 impactful adjectives and how to use them

We go through the most effective adjectives for letter of recommendation writing including:

  • how the characteristic or adjective presents in an individual
  • when the adjective should be used
  • how it can be used in the letter of recommendation

1. Adaptable

Adaptable describes someone who is able to:

  • maintain effectiveness in different environments
  • successfully adjust to different demands and new challenges
  • can handle unexpected changes to responsibilities and circumstances
  • interact effectively with diverse groups of people
  • adjust their behavior to other's styles

Adaptability is a valued attribute for most jobs, internships, leadership roles, volunteering opportunities and students. It is a good generic adjective to use in your letter of recommendation.

Adaptability - Letter of recommendation examples:

John proved himself able to quickly and effectively rearrange his responsibilities and priorities to meet changing demands and deadlines. On a recent project he ...

Alice is able to successfully adjust her approach to match the individual she is dealing with and to ensure a productive interaction. One instance of this is ...

Brian is always willing to take on new tasks and responsibilities and meets new challenges head on. A good example of this is...  

Diana is able to navigate change effectively and deal with unexpected situations in a resourceful and proactive manner. An example of her adaptability is...

2. Collaborative

Collaborative describes someone who is able to:

  • work effectively in a team or group to accomplish goals
  • acts in a manner that respects the needs and contributions of others
  • builds relationships and develops communications to enhance effectiveness
  • puts the team or group needs and objectives ahead of individual needs and objectives
  • supports group actions and decisions
  • volunteers help, information and ideas and builds on others input

Most people land up working in some sort of group or team so this is an important adjective for letters of recommendation.

Collaborative - Letter of recommendation examples:

John displays outstanding collaborative skills. He actively contributes to the group, adding valuable input, encouraging others to express their ideas and showing respect for their opinions resulting in effective teamwork.

Gill excels at collaborating. She enthusiastically supports other team member to ensure organizational goals are met by contributing wherever possible and diligently completing all tasks to the highest standard.

Jack has developed strong collaborative skills while working on group academic projects and as a member of the XYZ Society. He can be relied upon to provide support  and to make a positive contribution to the achievement of group objectives.

3. Resourceful

Resourceful describes someone who is able to:

  • find effective ways to overcome challenges and difficulties
  • find ways to optimize processes and systems
  • come up with innovative solutions to problems
  • see the potential or opportunity in a situation
  • use resources strategically and efficiently

Being resourceful gives an individual the competitive advantage and opens the door to accomplishment. It is a critical attribute in the pursuit of success in all settings an can be used with confidence as an adjective in your letter of recommendation.

Resourceful - Letter of recommendation examples:

John showed how resourceful he can be by developing an alternative process for ...

Carol is able to creatively optimize the use of available resources to handle demanding challenges. Recently she ...

Neil is a resourceful individual who is able to quickly and effectively generate and implement workable solutions to problems.

4. Dependable

Dependable describes an individual who:

  • is reliable and consistent
  • follows through on commitments
  • can be trusted to complete tasks
  • takes accountability for their own performance
  • is responsive to requests
  • delivers on time and to standard

Dependability is core to professionalism, work standards and job performance. Virtually all roles and functions demand that the individual can be depended on. This is one of the most useful adjectives for a letter of recommendation.

Dependable - Letter of recommendation examples:

I have been thoroughly impressed by John's commitment and reliability. He can be depended on to consistently complete tasks by deadline and to produce high quality work.

In the time I have known Susan she has proven herself to be someone I can truly rely on, holding herself accountable for her own performance and trusted to complete her tasks efficiently and on time.

Chris consistently follows through on his commitments and I know I can entrust him with a high level of responsibility

5. Energetic

Energetic describes an individual who:

  • maintains a strong pace over a long period while maintaining effectiveness
  • displays a high level of activity and productivity
  • is willing to meet challenges head on
  • displays enthusiasm for tasks and responsibilities
  • engages completely with the task at hand
  • is prepared to challenge themselves

Energetic individuals are more likely to achieve successful outcomes. Positive energy leads to higher levels of performance and productivity. Not every position or role requires a high energy level but most will benefit from the enthusiasm that an energetic individual brings.

Energetic - Letter of recommendation examples:

John is both energetic and enthusiastic. He consistently puts in the extra time and effort to achieve outstanding results as evident in ....

Ann is fully engaged and energized in her role as ... delivering outstanding value for the team and motivating others with her enthusiasm and positivity.

Zak's high levels of positive energy result in a proactive and enthusiastic approach to his responsibilities and commendable productivity and results.

6. Analytical

Analytical describes an individual who:

  • recognize trends, patterns and inconsistencies in data
  • breaks down problems and situations to identify key issues and relationships
  • uses data to detect problems and opportunities
  • identifies cause-effect relationships
  • is methodical in their approach to complex issues
  • digs deep into data to gain a better understanding of a situation

The ability to analyze effectively enables problem-solving, sound decision-making and critical thinking and planning. All necessary skills in most situations and one of the top adjectives for letters of recommendation.

Analytical - Letter of recommendation examples:

John is able to methodically analyze information to gain a clear understanding and make sound decisions based on the available data.

Marie's approach to problem solving involves careful analysis of the situation in order to identify cause and effect relationships together with an objective assessment of different options to find the right solution.

His strong analytical skills make George an exceptional problem-solver who is able to systematically evaluate the available data and accurately identify patterns and  inconsistencies to find workable solutions.

7. Motivated

Motivated describes an individual who:

  • driven by internal desire to achieve goals
  • displays a strong sense of purpose and sets goals for themselves
  • proactively takes responsibility for their own performance
  • is focused and disciplined
  • shows persistence in the face of challenges

Individuals who are self motivated and driven are more likely to achieve their goals, be productive and enable positive outcomes and success in almost any context.

Motivated - Letter of recommendation examples:

John is an exceptionally driven individual who displays discipline, focus and an outstanding work ethic in achieving his goals.

Sally has proven herself to be highly motivated, staying on track to achieve her goals even in the face of difficult challenges. Her persistence has paid off and she has achieved outstanding results ...

Frances is always willing to put in the extra effort to achieve team objectives, she is highly driven and is able to successfully motivate those around her to work hard, earning the respect of the team.

8. Resilient

Resilient describes an individual who:

  • is able to maintain effectiveness in the face of disappointment
  • is able to adapt and recover from a set back
  • is able to handle negative feedback and use it for improvement
  • can bounce back quickly from difficulties
  • is able to overcome challenges

Resilience is a critical skill in demanding and challenging times. It helps individuals to overcome challenges and enables positive outcomes.

Resilient - Letter of recommendation examples:

John has shown admirable resilience in overcoming obstacles in the pursuit of his goals. He has been able to stay positive and maintain a high level of effectiveness even when the situation has been challenging.

One of Mary's strengths is her ability to bounce back from setbacks and stay focused on the outcome she wants to achieve. She handles challenges in a constructive manner and this  resilience has enabled her success as ....

Glenda is able to adapt and approach difficult situations constructively and effectively. Her resilience together with her enthusiasm and energy ensure positive outcomes, even in the face of obstacles.

9. Versatile

Versatile describes an individual who:

  • is able to effectively adapt to different situations
  • can apply their skills, knowledge and experience to different tasks in a range of environments 
  • utilizes different resources effectively
  • learns new skills quickly
  • manages change well
  • succeeds in multiple roles and situations

Versatile individuals are better able to adapt to different situations in today's ever-changing world. The ability to quickly and effectively adjust to new demands is a valuable and universal attribute.

Versatile - Letter of recommendation examples:

John is a versatile employee who is able to effectively adapt to different situations and take on new and diverse responsibilities quickly and efficiently.

Veronica's versatility enables her to manage change successfully, learn new skills quickly and fully utilize them in different situations and contexts.

William's versatility allows him to establish strong relationships with a wide range of individuals,  to effectively carry out multiple responsibilities, to thrive in a variety of settings and to add value in many different ways. 

10. Innovative

Innovative describes an individual who:

  • tries different approaches to deal with challenges
  • finds new solutions to problems
  • suggests new and improved ways to apply existing knowledge
  • generates ideas and new perspectives
  • introduces new concepts, processes, methods
  • displays a desire to learn and explore

Innovation drives progress and improvement and is a valued attribute in a wide range of settings.

Innovative - Letter of recommendation examples:

John's ability to innovate and explore new approaches to challenges has resulted in a number of improvements including ...

Diana's strengths include her strong desire to learn as much as she can, to explore new possibilities and to generate ideas that create meaningful change and drive improvements. Recently she ...

Inga's innovative approach is evident in her ability to think outside the box when dealing with challenges, coming up with novel ideas and solutions that drive growth and  improvement.

Good adjectives for letter of recommendation writing

Here are some useful additional adjectives for your letter of recommendation.


















Select the attributes that apply to the position or program the individual is applying to.

List of workplace strengths

12 core competencies

Sample letters of recommendation

Here are excellent examples of letters of recommendation for specific situations:

Letter of recommendation for an internship

Letter of recommendation for leadership

Student teacher letter of recommendation

Character reference letter for a student

Personal character reference

Starting a letter of reference

Your first paragraph is essential in establishing your credibility and confirming your recommendation.

How to start a letter of recommendation

Closing a letter of recommendation

Leave a lasting impression with a powerful close to your letter of recommendation.

closing recommendation letter

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