Foolproof Tips on Requesting a Recommendation Letter

By Denver Regine Lark

Denver is a part of the TLC College Ambassador Program and attends North Carolina A&T University.

Whether it’s for a job or scholarship, it is very important to have good references because they can be the decisive factor to getting that new job. The first thing is to choose the right people to request letters of recommendation from, as well as giving them the adequate amount of time so you do not inconvenience them. This is practical as well as courteous. If you wait too long to make the request, the person may not have time. You should begin thinking of the best person to write your recommendation letter in the beginning of your academic career. As you take courses, make a point of getting to know the faculty.

The most obvious ways of doing this are to participate in class and go to office hours with questions. Whether you're applying for graduate school, a job or an internship, you will need letters of recommendation. Thinking about developing relationships with faculty who will be able to write about your strengths will help you when it comes time to ask for recommendation letters.

It is easier if you compile a list of references in advance that you think will write the best letters. It is best to have these letters written and prepared for when a prospective employer request them.

Review sample recommendation letters to know what information to provide when you ask for your letter and to make it simpler for your reference writer. On average, employers check three references for each candidate so you need to have at least that many people you can count on. It is important for these people to be aware of different aspects of your abilities.

Before you claim people to be your reference, you must first ask their permission. You need responsive people that can confirm where you have worked and your title as well as other details like your strengths and weaknesses. You want to be aware of what they are going to say about your background and performance so you can corroborate with what you indicated in your own documentation and interviews.

You can’t simply ask “Could you write a letter of recommendation for me?” Almost anyone can write a letter. The better question is “Do you feel you know my work well enough to write me a good recommendation letter?" or "Do you feel you could give me a good reference?” If you ask properly for the letter, you can ensure that the ones that say yes will be enthusiastic with their writing.

The best reference for the writer to use is a copy of your updated resume as well as information on your skills and experiences. The writer may even ask for an example of the type of letter you may want so do your research. Never send them your materials without first getting confirmation.

It is also helpful to also provide the recommender with a description of what exactly you need the letter for, specific instructions and a cover letter of specific things you may want included in the letter. If it’s possible, provide the recommender with a letter of interest as well as a transcript.

Once the letter has been written, it is important to thank the recommender as well as inform them whether you were accepted. They will appreciate knowing that their efforts were utilized and appreciated.