How To Ask For A Letter Of Recommendation By Michelle McManus
Michelle McManus is the Business Manager at Residences at Columbia Square. With over six years of experience in the Los Angeles market, she comes highly qualified and educated. Michelle lives for elevating living experiences and makes this building a place to brag about.
No matter what stage of life you’re in, it’s a good idea to have some recommendation letters for job opportunities. Since having recommendation letters are essential, that means you’ll have to ask people to them.
We’ll cover this later, but the people you ask should be people who can attest to your worth ethic and character.
If you haven’t asked for a recommendation letter before, you may feel awkward about it. However, you needn’t worry because we’re going to help you learn how to simplify the process.
If you approach asking for letters in the right way, attaining a few shouldn’t be a problem. Here are a few tips to follow to make asking for letters of recommendation a lot easier:
Decide Who to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation
Whether you plan to go back to school or apply for a new job opportunity, having two or three recommendation letters on hand is a good idea.
The letters should be written by people who can describe your hard work, skills, and personality. Sometimes it’s hard to prepare letters of recommendation right before job interviews, but try to plan as much as possible. You should give people enough time to write and get them to you.
If they feel rushed, the letters may not be as thorough as you’d like them to be.
A few people you can request a letter of recommendation from are:
- Former bosses
- Volunteer managers
In regards to who you shouldn’t ask for a letter of recommendation, it’s probably not a good idea to ask your parents or other family members, for example. Of course, they are going to say marvelous things about you.
They’re not wrong, but family and friends usually aren’t considered legitimate sources when it comes to asking for letters of recommendation.
However, one exception is if you have a friend you previously worked with on a thesis or project, for example. A person who has spent a lot of time with you in a professional setting and can attest to your character is always a good option.
Keep in mind though that professors, bosses, co-workers, and similar people are better options when you decide on who to ask for letters.
Reaching Out to Someone via Email
Unless this person is someone you see and interact with on a regular basis, you should probably contact them via email.
In the email you should request the following and word it similar to the examples we provide below:
- Requesting a letter of recommendation: “I’m writing to ask for a reference letter…”
- A short explanation of why you’re asking for a reference: “I believe you can provide precise insights into my skill set as a graphic designer…”
- A brief explanation of how the opportunity would benefit you: “This position would help to further my career in the graphic design field…”
- Specific instructions on who/where/when to send the letter: “If you could send it via email to John Q at email@example.com by January 15, 2019…”
In addition to everything you should include above, you may also want to attach an updated resume. Reminding whoever you’re asking to write you a letter of your qualifications and past work experience will help them think about what topics to touch on while writing.
There are also many sample letters available online that can help you learn how to phrase emails when asking for reference letters.
How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation
Asking a professor for a reference letter might feel awkward if you haven’t spoken to them in a while. It may also be challenging reaching out to a teacher who taught you in larger classes with many other students. A professor may or may not remember who you are, and if that’s the case, you can remind them by mentioning specific projects.
Don’t worry too much because professors typically like endorsing their students, especially if they received a good grade in their class.
A few other ways you can jog a past professor’s memory is by mentioning:
- The course(s) you took of theirs
- A specific project or paper that you worked hard on
- Updating them on where you’ve been or what you’ve done since you graduated or finished their class
On the other hand, if you’re currently taking a class with a professor, it’ll be easy to ask for a letter of recommendation. All you have to do is attend their office hours or approach them after class. You can also send them an email.
Don’t Forget to Send a Thank You Letter
No matter who you asked for a letter of recommendation, don’t forget to send them a thank you letter. If you end up getting the job or into the school of your dreams, you should include that in the note.
They’ll be excited to learn that everything is working out well for you!
Even if you don’t get the job, you should still send them a letter thanking them for their time and effort. People like to feel appreciated, and if you need an updated letter in the future, it’s in your best interest to thank them now.
Thanking them and continuing to stay in touch after receiving the letter will make them more willing to get you an updated or new letter in the future. Luckily your thank you letter doesn’t have to be super long.
The idea is to thank the recommender for their time, and it should include:
- Thank you
If you don’t get the job you interviewed for or get accepted into the school you applied to, there’s no need to add the updated portion in your letter.
If you reach out to them later about needing a new letter of recommendation, explain to them then that you didn’t get the job. We realise that asking for recommendation letters can be a pain, but it doesn’t have to be stressful.
If you give the person you’re asking for a letter from plenty of time to write it and communicate with them when you need it by, it shouldn’t be an issue for them to deliver.
If you happen to need the letter right away, you can always type something up, send it to them, and ask if they’d be willing to tweak the recommendation letter.
Often, providing a rough draft is very helpful for people who have hectic schedules.
If you’re asking people you know well for a recommendation letter you shouldn’t feel embarrassed about it. Many times people are happy to boast about your skills, and who knows, that favorable letter of recommendation might help you land your dream job.