Thursday, February 4, 2016

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

How should you ask someone to write you a letter of recommendation? The most important rule is to make it as easy as possible for the person to write the letter. Based on my experiences over the last several years, there are a five key things to include with your request:
  1. Make the request. You have to actually ask the individual to write the letter. Most of my requests from former students or coworkers have been through email or social networking sites.
  2. Describe what to include in the letter. This one seems counter-intuitive, but you really need to make it easy for the person to write the letter. Write your accomplishments and positive characteristics from the time you worked with this individual. Spell it out in detail so that the person can give you great recommendations.
  3. Describe the desired position. Be clear about the position that you hope to achieve. Link to the application materials so they know how to write the letter.
  4. Give the name of the individual or committee to send the letter to. This is a small but important piece - lay everything out clearly for the writer.
  5. Include the address and method of delivery. The individual needs to know where and how to send the letter of recommendation. 
  6. Give a deadline for delivery. Busy professionals need deadlines. Be sure you make this clear so the person knows the timeline.
What do you think? Anything you would add to this list?

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