Letters of recommendation are useful tools in many different situations, including applying to schools, receiving scholarships, obtaining internships, and even landing jobs. But, it’s not always clear how to go about getting a letter of recommendation when you need one. If you have any uncertainty about asking for a letter of recommendation, don’t worry! These nine steps will see you through the whole process, start to finish.
9 Steps to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation
1. Make Connections Early
It’s always a good idea to build connections with the people around you. If you haven’t yet, start now. Aside from the many benefits of community, developing relationships with people in your field will be helpful when you need future recommendations.
2. Choose Recommenders Carefully
Pick 5-10 potential recommenders that meet the following criteria:
- They know you well enough to be comfortable recommending you.
- They have a good impression of you and want you to succeed.
- They have enough time to write your letter.
- Bonus points if their position or field of study is relevant to what you’re applying for.
3. Waive Your Right to Read the Letter(s)
In some instances, you’ll have the option of waiving or retaining your right to read the letters. It’s best to waive them; confidential letters carry more weight, and allow your recommenders to be more candid.
4. Prepare Documents Beforehand
Assemble documents and information for your recommenders so they’ll have everything they need to write your letter. Consider providing…
- Your resume and/or academic transcript
- Details about what you’re applying for
- Name and title of the letter’s addressee
- Application form and materials
- Due date
- Pre-addressed envelope with postage if the letter should be mailed
5. Give Recommenders Plenty of Time
1-2 months is preferable, but give them at least two weeks.
6. Ask In Person First
Asking your recommender in person is always good form, and it allows you to explain why you came to them specifically and why you’re excited about this opportunity.
7. Then Send a Formal Request
If they’re agreeable, send a formal request to ask for your recommendation letter.
8. Follow Up Before the Due Date
Send a polite email reminder a week or so before the deadline.
9. Send a Thank You Note (and Updates)
Don’t forget to thank them for their time, effort, and support! They may also appreciate updates on your application process.
That’s all there is to it! Good luck with your applications, and don’t forget that quality recommendations are built on connection and community. If you’re applying for a job or internship in a new place, consider building those relationships in a residence hall, like our beautiful premises in the DC area.
At Thompson-Markward Hall (TMH), we’re a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote the academic and professional success of young women. TMH is in the heart of DC and offers safe, affordable, and convenient housing for women who are working, attending school, or interning in our nation’s capital. Visit our website to learn more about our accommodations or fill out an application today so you can start enjoying all of the benefits of co-living in DC!