Forté Foundation
Career Lab Virtual Campus

How To Request a Letter of Recommendation

By Danni Ondraskova

March 23, 2017

Whether you are applying for a job, temporary internship, or graduate school, chances are you will have to submit a letter of recommendation with your application. If you have never went through the process of securing a letter of recommendation, you likely have many questions. Read on for a step-by-step process so you can put your best foot forward.

1.  Figure out where you are applying and keep the information you need handy.

Coming up with a comprehensive list of places to apply to is always a good start. Some people like creating a spreadsheet on Excel or Google Sheets. Others create a table in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. You may end up with something like this (feel free to customize according to your own needs):

Name of place you are applying to (deadline)When you’ll be doing the job/internshipPaid or unpaid?Other
A (March 1)5/15/17-8/15/17Paid. $500/week3 Letters of Recommendation
B (March 15)6/01/17-8/1/17Unpaid.2 Letters of Recommendation, Cover Letter

In most cases, you should indicate the application due date, application materials needed, whether the job or internship is paid, job or internship date range, and other pertinent information. Follow a similar process for graduate schools, fellowships, and other programs.

2.  Think of a list of possible recommenders and rank them.

Look at the set of requirements for each internship or job. Does the position requires an academic or supervisor recommendation? Make a list of all these specialized requirements. Then create a separate lists of professors, employers, and other individuals you have worked with in some professional capacity and rank the names. Higher-ranked names will include individuals who are not on vacation or leave, who have known you recently, who have known you for a long time, and who have worked with you. Align the two lists.

3.  Craft an email for your recommenders.

When crafting an email for your recommenders, keep in mind that they are not obligated to write you a recommendation and may not be able to because of schedule constraints. Start the email hoping that they are doing well. Reference some project or other important event occurring in their lives and give them your best wishes. Then add a brief update of anything interesting you have been working on. Finally, ask if they can write a letter of recommendation on your behalf and attach a resume, writing sample, transcript, and any other relevant documentation. Be sure to provide the recommender with details of how and when to write the letter. Close the email by thanking them for supporting you and taking the time to read your email. 4.  Wait and update them if anything happens. If you accept another offer before the recommender is finished writing his or her letter, please let the recommender know. If you need advice regarding an interview or some other question, your recommender will likely have some good tips depending on how well he or she knows you.

Danni Ondraskova will graduate in 2018 from Wellesley College. Danni plans on earning a dual degree in law and business and dreams of working for JP Morgan’s Global Investment Management division.

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