Requesting Letter of Recommendation: The Right Etiquette

Recommendation Letter Etiquette

Letter of recommendation mostly runs in educational institutions. Professors seem to take such letters very seriously. The reason being it endorses the quality of the student, integrity of the professor and of course the university. Recommendation letters are important because if any student goes otherwise against the vested interest of the institute, the entire university’s reputation hangs in jeopardy.

Such letters are sensitive. You will require waiving your rights to glance through the letter. But many a times what happens is you don’t get the chance to review the letter after it has been written. Therefore, if you feel the person you approach to is reluctant about writing, politely take back the proposal and approach someone else. A poor or lukewarm letter of recommendation can potentially damage your chances of being accepted.

Tips to Requesting Letter of Recommendation

Below are a few etiquette to guide you on how to proceed with your Letter of Recommendation:

  • Approach a faculty member who knows you well. It will help you avoid generic recommendation and help you get a more specific one. The better a professor know you the more specific your letter will be.
  • Explain the purpose of the recommendation and make a formal request asking if he/she would be willing to write the letter. Do not be in a hurry. Let your professor take time to consider your request.
  • Approach for the letter at least a few weeks in advance of the deadline. Professors do not sit idle; they have a tight schedule and will have to take out some amount of time to make your letter thoughtful and distinctive.

Things to Provide for the Recommendation Letter

Here are the few things you need to consider and provide while requesting for a Letter of Recommendation:

  • A gist of the position or program you intend to apply along with the deadline of the same.
  • Provide information about any specific instructions or questions asked for in the recommendation letter.
  • Write about any pertinent information you wish to lay emphasis in the letter. For example, if you are good with your oral skills, ask your professor to provide a positive sense of your aptitude.
  • Ask him to mention about your interest in the program/position you are applying to.
  • Attach your resume for better understanding of your skills and qualification.
  • Provide a valid phone-number and email address as the writer might want to get back to your sometime.
  • If you are a graduate applicant, your letter of reference should be addressed to the program(s) you are applying to. Do not put a return address on the envelope as most professors prefer to send recommendations directly to the program. However, many programs today allow entering recommendations online. All you need is to provide the URL or email address.
  • Do not be selfish. Send a thank-you note and update the professor if the job was offered to you or you got accepted into the graduate program. Stay in touch; you never know when you will need them again.

Remember, a recommendation letter from a professor who focuses on your skills, abilities and motivation is more influential than a letter that only brags about your high grade.

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