Wishes and Messages

Formal request for letter of recommendation

  1. Home
  2. Anniversary Wishes For Parents
  3. Formal request for letter of recommendation
Formal request for letter of recommendation
July 29, 2019 Anniversary Wishes For Parents No comments

HOW TO REQUEST A LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION. Note: Always give the writer advance notice – at least 2 weeks' notice is appropriate.

Potential employers, scholarship and grant selection committees, and graduate school admissions offices depend heavily on recommendation letters to gain insight into applicants' personal strengths, weaknesses and accomplishments. This kind of information cannot be readily gleaned from transcripts and test scores. So it is in your best interest to help your recommenders write the most accurate and detailed letters possible.

Begin by cultivating close working relationships with faculty early in your undergraduate career. Once you're acquainted with faculty members through coursework, research, and other ways, consider stopping by their offices once a quarter to discuss your interests and keep in touch.

When the time comes, you need not feel shy about requesting a recommendation. All faculty members and graduate students had the same service done for them in the past and they regard this as a familiar process. Refer to the following guidelines for managing your letter requests.

  1. Choose the people who know you best. Many students wonder whether to ask a "big name" professor who knows only their face and final grade or a lesser-known professor who knows them better. Letters by famous people or well-known scholars only carry more weight if the famous person knows you well and can write a substantial, convincing recommendation. The more detailed, personalized a letter is, the more likely it is to make a strong impression on a selection committee. So ask your instructors with the most extensive, personal knowledge of you and your work.

  2. Ask early. It is common courtesy to allow recommenders at least three weeks to prepare and submit their letters. We highly recommend involving them in the early stages of your application process, while you are deciding how to present yourself in the application materials. Their insights will prove invaluable and they will be well informed of your interests when they write their recommendations.

    Begin your request with a substantial conversation about your interests and goals and then ask them if they can write a strong letter of recommendation. Most likely they will say yes. However, in some cases the faculty member may say no or that he or she can only write a recommendation citing certain qualifiers or weaknesses. In this case, you should accept his or her judgment graciously and consider asking for more feedback about your goals and plan for study.

  3. Provide materials. Once faculty have agreed to write your letters, provide them with copies of your application materials. The following items will help them write accurate and purposeful letters:

    • Photocopies of key pages from the application brochure, describing the nature and purpose of the scholarship, internship, graduate program or other opportunity

    • A copy (or a draft) of your application essays, or a summary of your career and educational goals

    • A list of your activities (sports, organizations, leadership and volunteer positions)

    • A description of pertinent work or research experiences

    • A copy of your transcript

    • If a number of quarters passed since you worked with a recommender, also provide a copy of your paper or class project

  4. Write out all submission instructions and deadlines. There should be no question as to when and where to submit the finished letters. Provide properly addressed, typed, stamped envelopes.

  5. Keep in touch with your recommenders. After submitting your application, send recommenders a thank-you note expressing your appreciation for their guidance and support. Update them on your progress throughout the stages of the competition and inform them whether you are selected for the award or not. Should you need a recommendation in the future, this kind of follow-up communication will continue to foster a close, positive relationship with your faculty sponsors.

Sample Email Asking for a Letter of Recommendation · Sample Request for Letter of Rec for Job · Sample Request for Letter of.

How to Ask for Letters of Recommendation: A Quick Guide

formal request for letter of recommendation

In the 2009 film “Up in the Air,” Natalie Keener decides she can no longer stomach being part of a corporate firing squad and quits her firm. Her mentor, played by George Clooney, behaves as the magnanimous gent we all know him to be: he writes a glowing reference letter on her behalf, addressed simply “to whom it may concern.”

In the real world, getting a reference letter is far more difficult and often a source of much anxiety. Whom to ask, how to ask, what to say?

But getting an outstanding reference letter is entirely within your control and easier than you think, even if you don’t have a benevolent benefactor at your back.

Here are three tips to ensure your mentor, former boss, or academic counselor writes you a rave review:

  1. Highlight their qualifications
  2. Provide a template
  3. Offer a “no questions asked” policy

Let’s look at each of these individually:

Highlight their Qualifications

When reaching out to ask for a letter of reference, explain up front and center why it is that you value that person’s opinion and respect their professional expertise enough so that you chose them (of all people) to vouch for you in your next professional endeavor.

Beyond mere flattery, show why you think that person is uniquely qualified to accurately assess and communicate your personal contribution to your future organization. Why did you enjoy working for them, and why do you value their opinion? Why do you look up to them? How do the qualities match your own, or speak to the authority you want your recommendation to convey?

Provide a Template

It’s almost impossible to get a good reference letter from someone if you don’t provide the tools necessary for them to actually write a good letter. It’s also terribly inconsiderate not to give ample guidance. The last thing anyone wants to do is spend hours or days thinking about and drafting a letter which you yourself could have composed far better and more readily in about half the time.

Providing a template, therefore — an outline, bullet points, or even a fully-baked draft — of what you’d like the reference letter to say is the most effective (not to mention generous and thoughtful) approach to asking for a letter of reference. The goal isn’t to put words into your former colleague’s mouth or to co-opt her into vouching for you in an untrue or disingenuous manner; it’s simply to do some of the work for her and provide all of the pertinent data points that you’d like included in the letter. Moreover, as boastful, bragging or full of yourself you may feel writing your own referral, often people will be even more generous than you will when talking about your skills and contribution to an organization. So go ahead and toot your own horn.

“No Questions Asked”

Finally, once you provide your reviewer with a useful template and make it clear that your intention is to make this process as painless as possible for her, then it’s time to hand over the reins and offer a “no questions asked” policy. First, give your colleague an easy “out” to decline your request for any or no reason. Then, assuming she agrees, give her ample leeway to change, modify or edit your letter as she sees fit. You want to convey a sense of trust in her and give her an opportunity to write a letter she is entirely comfortable with.

Let’s take a look at what this request might actually look like:

Highlight their Qualifications

Dear John,

Hello, I hope you are well. I am writing to ask a huge favor — I’m applying for a senior marketing position with Merck and I was hoping you’d consider writing a letter of recommendation on my behalf. I always appreciated your perspective and judgment while working together. You have so much credibility within the product development space that I thought you’d be a perfect person to act as a reference.

Provide a Template

I have included a list of bullet points along with a draft letter you might consider using as a template. I’d like to make the process as easy as possible on you and I know it’s hard to recall details about the many different projects we worked on together in 2007 and 2008.

“No Questions Asked”

If for any reason you don’t feel comfortable writing a letter on my behalf, I completely understand. If you are willing to do so, however, please feel free to take the attached sample letter and use it as a template however you see fit. I have tried to address my core strengths as a strategic thinker and team player and I have highlighted several marketing campaigns I’m particularly proud of. To the extent that you’d like to make any changes or modifications to the letter, please go ahead and do so. I trust that you’ll include only those topics you feel comfortable commenting upon.

Further, I would welcome the opportunity to see a copy of the letter, but I of course understand your position if you’d like to keep it confidential.

Finally, finish your request with all the grace and charm you can muster — thank the other person profusely for their time and help and offer to make yourself available for any further questions he may have.

Stay tuned for next week’s post on how to write that template and make your reference letter stand out from the pack.

Jodi Glickman Brown is a speaker, author and entrepreneur. She is the founder of communication consulting firm Great on the Job. You can follow Jodi on Twitter at @greatonthejob or on her blog at www.greatonthejob.com/blog.

This content was adapted for inclusion in the HBR Guide to Getting a Job.

letter writing closing salutations
Write a letter for a job
i ve found true love
Congratulations messages for phd graduation
application format in word
Writing a business invitation letter
sample letter of document requested
Job recommendation letter from employer

Recommendation Request Letter

formal request for letter of recommendation

You know how you wait until your parents are in a good mood before you ask them for something? Do that with this.

That means: Don’t ask your teachers during lunch. (They’re humans. They eat.)

Not right before class. (You’ll interrupt their class-prepping mojo.)

Not in the middle of class (just, no).

Two better options for when to ask for a letter of recommendation:

  1. Schedule a brief meeting with your teacher in advance.

    Shoot them an email asking if they have five minutes to chat with you about college sometime in the next week, then set up a time and don’t be late. The thoughtfulness will add another jewel to your crown in Letter of Recommendation heaven.

  2. Wait until all the students have left the classroom at the end of the day, and cautiously approach the teacher, as you would a wild animal.

    Here’s a sample dialogue that works:

You: “Ms. Smith, do you have five minutes to talk?” (This is key. You’re inviting her into the conversation, while also giving her a quick out if she needs one.)

Ms. Smith: “Sure, Johnny. What’s up?”

You: “Well, I’m in the throes of applying to college. I’ve got some deadlines in about three months, so I’m trying to be proactive and organized before all hell breaks loose. (She’ll love you for thinking ahead.) That’s why I’m here. Of all the teachers I’ve had, I think you know me the best, and I’m wondering: Would you be willing and able to write me a strong letter of recommendation?” (The word “strong” gives teachers a polite out if they feel like they don’t know you well enough or don’t have time to take on your letter.)

Ms. Smith: “Oh Johnny, I thought you’d never ask.” (She probably won’t say this, but you can dream.)

You: “Really? That would be wonderful/epic/lit. Tonight I’ll email you all the relevant information — my resume, my list of colleges and their deadlines, and some bullet points with stuff I’ve done in class. (See below for more info on this follow-up email.) Is there anything else you’d like from me?

Ms. Smith: “Wow, no, I think that about covers it. Thanks, Johnny.”

You: “Thank you, Ms. Smith!”

(Turns away, nearing the door. Stops as if remembering something, turns back toward Ms. Smith with a winning smile.)

You: “Oh, Ms. Smith! I almost forgot to ask … what’s your favorite coffee shop?”

Ms. Smith: “Oh heavens. Starbucks, I think. Why?”

You: “No reason! Have a great day!”

(Skips out the door and immediately jots “Starbucks — Ms. Smith” into notes app, because you’ll be getting her a Starbucks gift card and thank-you note when all this is over.)

And that’s how it’s done.

When requesting a letter of recommendation, there are a few steps you can take should later send a formal, written request for a recommendation, you should.

Request That Someone Write a Letter of Recommendation In Your Behalf

formal request for letter of recommendation

If you're applying for a job, it's likely you'll need a reference. It's a good idea to get references lined up before you start a job search. That way you'll have a list of people who can recommend you ready to share with prospective employers. You can ask for a reference with a phone call, or an email or a hard-copy letter, but either way, you'll want to write your request carefully. 

Choose Your References Wisely

The person giving you a reference may need to write a letter, fill out a questionnaire, respond to an email, or speak to someone from human resources on the phone. If the person doesn't know you well, it'll show.

Always Give the Person You're Asking an Out

Make sure to give the person an easy way to decline to provide you with a reference. A bad reference can be the difference between you getting a job offer— or not. It would be preferable to have the person decline to provide a reference, rather than write a halfhearted or negative letter.

In your reference request, you can say things like "I know end-of-the-year evaluations are due soon, so if you're too busy to provide a reference, I completely understand" or "It's been five years since we worked together, so if you don't feel comfortable speaking to someone about my work habits after so long, please just let me know." 

Give Your Reference a Heads-Up

Do not give out anyone's name as a reference without their permission and without knowing what they are going to say about you. The individual who is giving you a reference needs to know ahead of time that they may be contacted regarding a reference for you. Once you have permission, let your reference providers know when you share their names with prospective employers. 

Ask Nicely

Former co-workers and managers are under no obligation to serve as a reference. You are asking for a favor, so be polite and warm in your request. You can also mention why you thought the person would be an ideal reference. 

How to Ask for a Reference Letter

References can be requested in writing or by email. If there are forms the recommender needs to complete, you may want to send an email message asking for the recommendation, then follow up with a written letter and the forms.

You can also briefly mention specific qualities and skills of yours that you would like your reference to mention. If you have any information about how the company will be reaching out to the recommender — phone, email, etc. — you can include those details as well. 

It's a good idea to review sample letters asking for a reference to get ideas for your own letters. These samples, both written and email, include the best ways to phrase your request and how to ask someone to be your reference.

Sample Letter Asking for a Reference

Download the Word Template

Sample Email Message Asking for a Reference (Text Version)

More Letter Samples Requesting a Reference

Thank Your Reference Writer

When you get a new job, don't forget to send a thank you note to the individuals who provided you with a reference. Not only will it let your reference giver know that they have helped you. It will also let them know how much you appreciated the job search help.

Choose someone who thinks highly of you, and can speak fluently about your career and talents.

In your letter requesting a reference, it can be helpful to provide the potential recommender with background information, including your current resume and a link to the job description (or a short summary).

Ashton Zimmers
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
555-555-5555
ashzimm@email.com

September 27, 2018

John Rogers
Office Manager
Acme Corporation
680 Main Boulevard, Ste. 300
Ocean City, CA 93650

Dear Ms. Rogers,

I am reaching out to ask you to provide me a reference for a new opportunity I am seeking with CBI Industries. Of course, I completely understand if you are unable to commit to this. Please just let me know as soon as possible.

I learned a lot about the industry while working for you at Acme Corporation, and I think you would be able to provide the kind of insight into my skills that would increase my chances of landing this new position. As you know, I have recently been employed at VBN Industries, heading their research and development division. The opportunity at CBI Industries is related but would also require many of the sales and marketing techniques I developed while working for you.

Thank you very much for considering my request. I have attached a copy of my updated resume and the job posting for your review. Gary Smith from Human Resources will be the contact person at CBI who will be in touch if you agree to provide the reference for me.

If you have any questions or need any further information, please don't hesitate to let me know.

Sincerely,

Ashton Zimmer

Subject line: Reference for Ashton Zimmer

Dear Ms. Rogers,

I am reaching out to ask you to provide me a reference for a new opportunity I am seeking with CBI Industries. Of course, I completely understand if you are unable to commit to this. Please just let me know as soon as possible.

I learned a lot about the industry while working for you at Acme Corporation, and I think you would be able to provide the kind of insight into my skills that would increase my chances of landing this new position. As you know, I have recently been employed at VBN Industries, heading their research and development division. The opportunity at CBI Industries is related but would also require many of the sales and marketing techniques I developed while working for you.

Thank you very much for considering my request. I have attached a copy of my updated resume and the job posting for your review. Gary Smith from Human Resources will be the contact person at CBI who will be in touch if you agree to provide the reference for me.

If you have any questions or need any further information, please don't hesitate to let me know.

Best Regards,

Ashton Zimmer
(555) 234-5678
ashzimm@email.com

WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: Requesting letters of recommendation

Sample Email Asking for a Letter of Recommendation · Sample Request for Letter of Rec for Job · Sample Request for Letter of.

formal request for letter of recommendation
Written by Voodoogrel
Write a comment