A request for reference or recommendation letter is usually made when applying for jobs, internships, graduate school, or professional courses. They are usually submitted to help the applicant in their selection or application processes. Recommendation letters can be submitted along with other documents such as a resume or transcripts.
Most schools, employers, graduate programs, and professional courses usually expect applicants to submit a recommendation letter to help them assess their qualities and skills to determine if they would be an excellent fit for a given position or program.
A recommendation or reference letter is written by someone, usually an authority figure or an instructor, who has supervised the applicant’s work. Recommendation letters provide their opinion on the applicant’s capabilities, qualities, skills, and knowledge of a given subject.
Recommendation letters are usually used to supplement information presented in an official application form, such as essays or resumes. They are also used to provide additional information to help employers better assess an applicant’s suitability for a given position.
When to Ask for a Recommendation?
Recommendation letters are important as they help inform the hiring manager, school board, or any other related party of the applicant’s skills, qualities, strengths, and weaknesses. In addition, they help provide an overview of who the applicant is and why they should be considered for what they are applying for.
Some of the instances when an applicant may request a recommendation letter include:
- When applying for graduate school or a professional course
- When applying for internship and fellowship programs
- When applying for jobs and scholarships
Whom to Ask for a Recommendation?
Whom to request a recommendation letter usually varies from one program to another. However, when seeking a letter of recommendation, it is vital to choose someone who can write an excellent letter based on their experience and knowledge about you.
Here are some of the people you may consider asking to write you a recommendation letter:
The first person you may consider requesting a recommendation letter from is your professor. Professors have direct knowledge about your academic capabilities, skills, and work ethics. As a result, they are usually the people who can help you best assess your talents and skills in each subject.
Therefore, when choosing your professor, it is essential to choose one who knows you well. In addition, professors cannot provide letters of recommendation unless they have taught you directly in their course or closely supervised your work for a project.
When requesting your professor for a recommendation letter, prepare a document showing all the subjects they have taught you. This will help them quickly identify what they know about you and highlight it in your letter. Also, make sure to share with them a list of your skills. This list of skills will help them to understand what to include in the reference letter. They will be able to include skills that are related to the position you are applying for.
Lastly, when requesting your professor for a recommendation letter, write about projects you have completed with them. If you have completed any group projects with your professor under their supervision, make sure to list them down in your document so that you can give your professor an idea of what kind of work you are capable of.
Ask a friend
The following person you may consider asking for a recommendation letter is your friend. Your friend can provide you with a reference letter based on their first-hand knowledge of you as a person and your abilities as a student. When choosing a friend to write you a recommendation letter, consider choosing one who is honest about your skills and qualities.
Here are things you can ask them to include in their letter of recommendation: A list of your skills. Friends are usually very open with their views of you as a person, primarily if they have known you for quite some time. Therefore, it is essential to ask them what qualities and skills they think you possess so that they can include them in the reference letter.
Another essential item that you should ask them to include in the recommendation letter is your previous experiences with them- it would be very effective to mention any meaningful activities you have finished together with your friend in your recommendation letter.
Ask a coworker
Another person you may want to consider asking for a reference letter is your coworker. Your coworker can honestly assess how well you work in the workplace and what skills would be best to highlight when applying for certain positions. However, choosing a coworker who knows you very well might not always be possible because they are often busy. This means that you might want to ask for their assistance in writing your reference letter, even if they are not someone you completely trust to write it honestly.
Some essential things you want them to mention when writing your reference letter include your skills and abilities as an employee. Some examples of valuable skills at work are strong time management and task prioritization, good communication, cooperative teamwork, etc. The second thing you want them to mention in the recommendation letter is their role in your workplace.
If they have played a role in your work and you think it is important for future employers to know, you may also want them to mention what that role was. For example, if they supervised your work or taught you something valuable about your job function, then ask them to include it as well.
Ask your neighbor
Lastly, another person who might write a good letter of reference for you is your neighbor. Even though it may not seem like your neighbor and you would have many things in common, it is still possible for them to write a good letter of reference. For example, your social skills, including some qualities that your neighbor can mention, are dependability, punctuality, friendliness, conscientiousness, good habits, your good relationships with the people around you.
There are several pre-considerations you must keep in mind when writing a reference letter, including:
Whom you want to write your letter
When writing a letter of reference, you must ask the right person. However, you do not want to embarrass yourself or make your request difficult by asking someone who does not have anything good to say about you. Therefore, when choosing the person, try to choose somebody who has known you for an extended period and can provide an honest assessment of your skills.
Prepare a brag sheet
Before you ask someone for a reference letter, you must prepare a brag sheet with all the accomplishments or good qualities about yourself which you want them to mention in their letter. This brag sheet will help your referee think through all the good things about you, which they can mention, and make it easier for them to write a letter of reference for you.
Ask in person
When asking someone to write a reference letter for you, try to ask them in person rather than writing or emailing it to them. This will allow the person to think through all the good things they can say about you and make it easier to write a reference letter for you.
Give your reference an easy way to decline
Lastly, when asking someone for a reference letter, be sure that you give them an easy way out if they do not want to write one for you. For example, remind them that they do not have to write if they are too busy or their schedules will not permit them to. If you give someone an easy way out and they still decline, let them know that it is ok and ask them if there is any other person whom they could recommend in its place. This act will prevent them from feeling obliged to complete your reference letter.
Recommendation Letter Template
Dear Mr./Mrs./Hiring Manager,
I have known ____________ (applicant’s name) for the past _______ years, in which time I have gotten to know him/her very well. During this time, I have had the chance to work with his/her several times. I have always found ____________ (Applicant’s name) to be very punctual, dedicated and hard-working. _____________ (Applicant’s name) is also a great team member. Whenever someone was struggling or needed help understanding something, ___ (he/she) would step in to lend a hand.
During the time that I have known ______________ (Applicant’s name), _____ (he/she) has always put forth 100% effort in their work. He/she is also very respectful and considerate of others, which makes him/her a great role model for younger students/employees.
___________ (Applicant’s name) is always punctual to class/work with their assignments always completed on time. In addition, they have been very respectful and flexible to those around them. I would highly recommend ________ (Applicant’s name) for the ____________ (name of program)/ __________ (employment position).
If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me at 555-5555-555/ Please let me know if there is any other way I can be of assistance or if you have further questions.
____________ (Referee’s name)
Recommendation Letter Sample
Dear Hiring Manager,
I am writing this reference letter to support Sally Doe, applying for a position with your company. When Sally was my student, I found her one of the most driven and organized students I have ever had. In addition, she was always willing to help other students when they were struggling and never complained when asked to take on extra work. Sally has always been an assertive person who speaks through her mind and works well with others.
I am recommending Sally for this position because she was one of the best students I have ever had in my class. Because Sally was such a focused student, I know that she will focus on her work at your company. In addition, I always found Sally to be a hard worker who was willing to put in the time and determination needed to solve problems or complete projects.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me at 555-555-5555.
Templates for Help!
Following are free templates for you to get a better understanding of the format and sentence structure. You can also customize these as per needs:
Professional Tips for You
There are some essential things to keep in mind while requesting a recommendation letter.
Here are some pro tips to keep in mind when asking someone for a recommendation letter:
- Give ample time to write: If you ask someone to write a reference letter for you, make sure that you give them ample time to complete it. Trying to rush them or expect something in a short amount of time will only cause difficulties for everyone involved.
- Make a list of individuals in advance: If possible, make a list of potential referees. This list will allow you to reach out to them without feeling too overwhelmed.
- Ask those who are good to you: When asking for a reference letter, be sure that you are asking someone willing to go the extra mile for you and who has had positive interactions with you in the past.
- Do not impose on them: When asking for a reference letter, make sure that you are not imposing on the person you wish to ask.
- Ask for a recommendation letter when you leave a job: Make sure to ask your soon-to-be former employer to write you a recommendation letter. If possible, try to gather your recommendations before resigning from your position. This act will make the whole process less stressful and less time-consuming. Employers are usually more than willing to write you a recommendation letter, especially if you have an excellent working relationship with them.
- Avoid family members and friends: If possible, avoid asking family or close friends to write a reference letter. Family and friend recommendations can seem less professional than other letters of recommendation.
- Use a little flattery: A little flattery can go a long way when asking for a reference letter. However, be sure that you are not exaggerating or lying about your accomplishments.
- Ask nicely: Finally, remember to ask the person you wish to ask for a reference letter politely and professionally.
Frequently Asked Questions
To ask for a recommendation letter via email, you generally want to ask the professor for a time that he/she could either meet with you in person or talk on the phone. This will ensure that both parties are clear on what is going on and understand your situation better. After this meeting, follow up with an email containing the request, letting your professor know that you appreciate their time and effort.
When asking for a letter of recommendation, it is often best to go in person. It shows that you value this individual’s opinion and want to make the process easier on them. Be sure to be specific about what you’re asking for and when you need it. Also, try to build a relationship with your professor to know who you are and your kind of person.
If possible, it is best to give at least two weeks in advance, but always check with the professor about their specific preferences. Sometimes they may prefer more time, and sometimes they might need less. Be flexible with your professor to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your letter.
It is essential to thank the person for the time and effort spent on writing the letter. A simple thank you email is necessary, and it’s also a great idea to share that the letter was helpful in the application process.