Thursday, September 19, 2013

letters of recommendation

Here are some tips for requesting letters of recommendation:
  • Identify people in your life who can vouch for your talents, accomplishments, and quality of character.  Don't ask friends or relatives; good candidates include employers/supervisors, teachers, coaches, and clergy.
  • Ask those people for letters of recommendation politely, respectfully, and at least a week in advance.
  • Before you ask, consider whether they prefer a request in writing or in conversation, and be mindful of what you're asking-- do you want a general letter you can use for everything (useful if you don't want to bug them again), or do you want a letter that is addressed to an individual/organization for a specific purpose?
  • Follow up on your initial request by thanking them in advance, clarifying when you will plan to pick up the letter, and sending a copy of your resume so they don't have to invent the whole thing from scratch.
  • If you want/need multiple originals, ask.
  • Also ask if you can list the person (and his/her contact information) as a reference.
  • Send a handwritten note in an envelope to say Thank You.  No matter what the outcome of your application, send an additional Thank You to let them know.

If you don't yet have at least two letters you can turn in for review tomorrow, please provide a status report that describes:
  • Who you've asked and why;
  • How you asked;
  • What the response was;
  • When you expect to receive letters;
  • Your next steps.

Good luck!  This isn't a comprehensive list and there are many other strategies that people employ with success-- feel free to comment with your experiences and suggestions.

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