How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation
Why do you need a letter of recommendation? Chances are, you’re trying to apply to either an internship or to graduate school. Either way, in order for your case to be heard, you will need someone to vouch for you. This is why networking is so important as well as building relationships with your professors and teaching assistants. Having a solid letter of recommendation can be just what admissions committees and employers need to extend you the offer.
Over the last week, a lot of people expressed to me their urgency for securing a letter of recommendation in hopes of meeting application deadlines. This will serve as a quick guide on how to go about that process in the most effective and efficient manner.
First thing’s first, START NOW!
Writing a letter of recommendation for someone should not be a rushed activity. You are literally placing the hopes of your acceptance or rejection in the hands of the recommender. You want to make sure that they fully understand what it is they are writing, why they are writing it, and who they should be writing it to. Lastly, you want to have enough time to read the letter and make necessary adjustments and changes. Although you have the
OPTION to waive the right to see your letter, federal law says that you don’t have to. Don’t let anyone send a letter on your behalf without running it by you first unless you fully trust they’re knowledge of you and their writing skills. Otherwise, it never hurts to proof read their letter to ensure it fits your needs and the requirements.
Next you should ask someone that KNOWS YOU!
You want to ask someone that truly knows you for a recommendation. There are two reasons for doing this. One, you want the letter to be personal. You want them to speak on your strengths and how you can bring value to the college or organization in which you are applying. In addition, everyone you ask won’t write you a letter. I remember asking someone for a letter one time and they flat out told me, “I don’t know you enough to write you a letter”. That was a serious wake up call for me and a lesson that you shouldn’t learn the hard way. Always ask more people for letters than you actually need. You never know who could fall through at any given moment. Be prepared.
Finally, make sure you provide ALL of the information needed for the letter.
Here are some key things to tell your recommender when asking for a letter:
1: Ask that they should make it personal, but professional. “In the last 6 months as Jimmy Jake’s supervisor at KidTech, I have observed him to be a hard working employee”
2: Ask that they be specific. “It is my pleasure to recommend John Doe for the admittance to the University of Dreams Law Program”.
3: Ask that they include class or work related input. “Jane Doe was in my Strategic Management class and exemplified key analytical thinking skills that will allow her to succeed in the role of ‘Data Analyst’ at Dreamers, Inc.”
4: Ask that they have it by a deadline. Everybody is busy, not just you. Respect their time by giving them a reasonable enough window to write the letter. Depending on who you ask, you can get anywhere from a 24 hour turnaround to a three week turnaround in this process. I had a letter written for me in less than 24 hours, but that’s extremely rare.
5: Thank them. A simple thank you will go a heck of a farther way than that letter might. It is importance to build that relationship because chances are high that you may need another letter. They’re doing you a huge favor and giving you their time, don’t take it for granted.
Hopefully this will help you in your process. If you need any advice, feel free to contact me at any of my social media links or email above.
Here are a couple links about letter’s of recommendation: