How to Request Letters of Recommendation

Many students may have to request letters of recommendation as part of their college application. This is a crucial skill to learn as it will be needed time and time again in your life.

I have had to ask for letters of recommendation for scholarship applications, programs for my college, job applications, and many, many more things! Because it is so important, learn to ask for a letter of recommendation in a way that’s professional, polite, and gracious. Here is how the process should go from start to finish.

Step One: Asking and Providing a Deadline

When requesting a letter of recommendation, you should try your best to ask the person face to face. The person you ask should be someone who knows you well but who isn’t a family member or close friend. I have asked previous bosses, professors and even old neighbors for letters of recommendation.

When you ask, you should be kind and polite and let the person you are asking know when you will need the letter. Even the best teachers who seemingly remember everything will forget or put it off until the last minute unless you tell them otherwise. The best way to ask would be to approach them and say, “Would it be possible for you to write me a letter of recommendation by the 20th, please?” That way, you are being courteous, but also clear about when you will need the letter.

Step Two: Provide a Resume

After you ask, it is likely that your boss, teacher, or whoever will ask what they should put in the letter. For that reason, you should create a resume ahead of time so that they have something to write about. Things that you could include in your resume are your GPA, extracurricular activities, community service, previous job experience, or leadership experience. That way, they will have an outline of what to include and they can insert their own personal views as well. Give them the resume either when you ask them to write your letter or shortly after, that way they have the resources to write your letter as soon as possible.

Step Three: Say Thank You

When you get your letter of recommendation, it is important that you thank the person who wrote it for you. I would suggest writing a thank you card or sending an email. This is important because if they remember that you were gracious, they are likely to help you with future endeavors as well. A letter can be stressful and time consuming for some people, so make sure that they know that you appreciate their efforts.

You are going to need to ask for letters of recommendation for several events in your life, so it’s important that you know how to do it properly and courteously. With these three steps, not only will you obtain a wonderful letter of recommendation, but a resource for future assistance as well.