Letter of recommendation

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation



When seeking a new position you might want to ask people for letter of recommendation. What you may not know, is that you might be getting shortchanged. Here is our advice on how to fix it.

Who To Ask For A Letter Of Recommendation

While your boss may be the one who has intimate knowledge of your work ethic and experience, you get a different feel from asking someone outside your chain of command that you trust or a mentor for a recommendation. This can provide a vastly different experience. Your boss may know you best, but that does not mean their letter of recommendation will be outstanding.

If you trust your mentor’s opinion in terms of life and work advice, you can likely trust them to write an exceptional letter of recommendation for you. Their purpose is to set you up for success for whatever endeavors your wish to pursue in your future.

A Letter With A Cheat Sheet

Even if you accomplished a lot of great and notable things, a busy boss or professor may not have the hours it might take to compile all of the work you have accomplished throughout your tenure. If they agree to write a letter of recommendation for you, make their life easier by providing a ‘cheat sheet’ with a bulleted listing of your accomplishments, performance metrics, statistics, and so on. They could then literally copy those down into the letter while expanding on the areas that you tell them you would like to punctuate to help them be stronger.

Get Personal

Before the recommendation writer puts the letter together, have a conversation with them. Explain to them why you are applying to where you are (school, job, program, etc. and why this move is important for you. Taking your thoughts into consideration will help them craft a stronger, more precise phrasing in the letter.

Try to give them as much time to write it so that they do not feel pressured to turn it over quickly because they are in a time crunch. Make sure they are aware of your deadlines right from the onset. Following up with them a few days before the deadline and gently reminding them of the pending deadline is completely acceptable. You can (and should) provide them with a stamped envelope to make it easier for them to send the letter out once they are done with it.

It goes without saying that after they do you this solid, you should write them a thank-you note expressing your gratitude for them taking the time to write the letter for you, especially if it helps to bear fruitful results. Maintaining a good relationship with such people is always a good idea. Plus, you never know when you might need another recommendation letter in the future.

Pay It Forward

At some point, you may be in the role of the mentor or trusted confidant who may yourself be asked to write a letter of recommendation. Assure that you follow the advice you wished your recommendation’s writer did and read it over carefully to evaluate that it is written fairly. It helps to compare it against other recommendation letters you have written. Refine it as you see fit in order to come up with the best result you can.

We would never suggest handing out recommendation letters to just anyone, but if you do believe in the quality of a person who asked you, while you’re at it, do as great of a job as possible. One day, they will likely pass on the favor to someone else as well.

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