How to Properly Ask for Letters of Recommendation

How to Properly Ask for Letters of Recommendation

Whether you are a current student applying for a scholarship or a recent graduate applying for jobs, some applications may require letters of recommendation. While it may seem like an overwhelming process letters of recommendation are valuable resources that are taken into consideration among future employers. Follow these six steps to learn how to properly ask for letters of recommendation and ease the stress of asking for someone to help you out!


1.   Be proactive. Make sure to start the process early. Review the application and discover the requirements to get an idea of about how long the whole process will take and which parts of the application will require more attention. Beginning early will help you establish how many letters of recommendation you will need as well as other specifics about the submission process.


2.   State your case, then ask. It is important that you preface your request for a letter of recommendation with a short explanation about what position you are applying for and why. After you provide a little background, find out if your recommender, most likely an instructor, boss, or professional mentor, is willing and comfortable writing a letter for you. Remember, it is always best practice to ask for a letter of recommendation in person. It is also acceptable to ask over the phone or email, but NEVER ask through social media or a text.


3.   Ask early. Everyone has a busy schedule, so make sure to ask your recommender AT LEAST two weeks before the letter is due in order to allow them enough time to complete it. It is also beneficial to make sure the letter is finished a few days before it is due to prevent any last minute complications.


4.   Provide background information. The more specific a letter of recommendation, the better. Even if your recommender is familiar with your work and character, providing them a copy of your most recent resume so they may see all your accomplishments and credentials is a great way to ensure that specific examples are not left unmentioned. The more information you can provide, the more detailed your letter will be.


5.   Ask someone you know. Along with providing background information for specific details, it is also important that your letter of recommendation is personal. To ensure your letter is as personalized as possible, be sure to ask someone who knows you well and knows your education/performance. A professor or advisor that is familiar with your work and your determination for success will be able to provide specific examples of your effort and character in the efforts of boosting your recommendation.


6.   Follow instructions. Some applications which require letters of recommendation may require that the letters be submitted in a particular format or be a certain length. If letters don’t meet the requirements it is quite possible that the letters will be discarded, making your entire application incomplete. Most importantly, make sure your letters and the rest of your application are turned in before the deadline.


Starting early is the common theme among each of these steps, so be sure to give you and your recommender plenty of time to put in the necessary effort to receive the best results! For more tips on career development, visit WTI’s Academic Services.

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