Colorado College 226 Worner Center νColorado Springs, CO 80903 719/389-6893
What Are Letters of Recommendation?
Letters of recommendation are testimonials by professors and past employers regarding your abilities, skills, and
character. It is critical to obtain strong letters of recommendation for any application process.
How Many Do I Need, and From Whom?
Employers and graduate schools usually require between three and five letters. Some applications will specify who
should write them, while others leave this to your discretion. The groundwork for securing good recommendations is
ongoing and should start early in your undergraduate career. By the first half of your senior year, you should be able to
identify several faculty members who you might comfortably approach about recommendations. If you have not
developed such relationships or if you are unsure how to start developing these types of relationships, please visit the
Career Center to schedule an appointment.
Steps to Obtaining a Great Recommendation Letter
• Begin the process at least 4 weeks before you need the letter.
• Choose your references carefully and select those who can really speak to those talents and abilities, required by the
position to which you are applying. The title or position of the person is not always the best reason to ask for a
recommendation. Some possible recommenders are professors, advisors, internship and work supervisors or
someone in a leadership position of an extracurricular or volunteer activity. Choose someone familiar with your work
product. Most importantly, choose someone who has had significant contact with you, and who can speak well of you.
• Ask those identified if they are willing and able to write a strong letter of support on your behalf. Ask if they know your
work and abilities well enough to write a letter of recommendation for you, and if they would be willing to do so. If they
have reservations, search for an alternative. A weak or lackluster recommendation can harm your case.
• Set up an appointment to discuss your job or graduate school search with each reference. This will give you the
opportunity to share your background, goals and qualifications.
• At this meeting, share any of the following: resume, job description, transcripts, personal statement, application
materials, and any information about the position or grad school that might be helpful. Provide details about classes
taken, projects completed, evaluations received, and any relevant experience.
• Supply the reference with any applicable form to be completed or guidelines for the letter, including to whom it should
be addressed. Feel free to use the CC Request for Letter of Recommendation form attached. Be sure to highlight the
• Provide an envelope with the appropriate address clearly printed and sufficient postage.
• Shortly before the recommendation is due, confirm that the recommendation has been completed and sent.
• Send a thank you note or email to each person who has written you a letter of recommendation. Keep them updated
on your job or graduate school search and be sure to let them know when you’ve accepted a position.
The above steps are still appropriate when asking someone if they can be a telephone reference for you.
Should Letters be Generic or Tailored?
This decision is usually left to the writer. Generic references ("To Whom It May Concern") are convenient and save time;
however, some prefer to write a new letter each time you need one. Individually tailored letters can be very helpful, and
word processing makes this procedure easy. Because letters for employment and graduate school are not readily
interchangeable, it may prove advantageous to have your references produce two versions of their recommendation.
The Career Center Recommendation Services
What Are Recommendation Services?
Submitting Letters of Recommendation or Letters of Reference (these terms are used interchangeably) are necessary for
seeking employment or admission to graduate school. Centralizing your letters in a Recommendation File enables an
efficient job or graduate school search and provides a professional image. The Recommendation Service allows you to
have letters of recommendation forwarded, with a cover page from Colorado College, to an employer or graduate school.
Your recommendation file only contains letters of recommendation; it does not include transcripts or other materials.
Opening a Recommendation File and obtaining recommendations before you graduate is an important step in your post-
graduate strategy. The process of requesting recommendation letters helps to assure that you are fresh in the mind of the
person writing your letter, and allows you to personally meet with faculty members, advisors, and employers. Even if you
are not sure you will need these letters for jobs or grad school, request some general letters from professors while you are
still fresh in their minds.
How to Establish a Recommendation File
Ask the writers to send their letters, printed on letterhead, directly to the Career Center, or you may personally submit your
recommenders’ letters to the Career Center. Try to submit originals or high quality copies that have been signed by the
author. Make sure to include proper waiver forms, if necessary.
How Long Can I Use Recommendation Services?
Recommendation files are maintained in the Career Center for five years after the last active use. After five years, all
inactive files are terminated. If you would like the contents of your file, you must send a written request to the Career
Center. Confidential materials cannot be released without the permission of the letter's author.
Confidentiality of a Recommendation File
In accordance with the provisions of Section 438 of the Family Education Rights Privacy Act, commonly known as the
Buckley Amendment, students have the right to access their recommendation file. However, many students waive this
right in order to have confidential letters of recommendation. Each confidential letter of recommendation must have a
waiver form attached (available in the Career Center). The student and the letter’s author must sign the waiver. The
letter should then come directly from the writer to the Career Center in order to retain its confidentiality. At no time will a
confidential letter be in your possession. No letter of recommendation can be made confidential after being received
without a waiver.
Confidential vs. Non-Confidential Letters
Many career development professionals suggest that confidential letters are better than non-confidential ones. In general,
a confidential letter may be more honest about some of your weaknesses and therefore carry more weight. However,
other career development professionals recommend that you never give up your right to see documents regarding your
candidacy, as it is important to have control over all documents that represent you. Non-confidential letters have become
an acceptable part of the hiring process. Most employers now call references for verification and clarification.
You should keep your file up-to-date. We will retire old letters and add new ones at your request. A Career Center staff
member will be happy to review your file with you. We cannot disclose the contents or nature of any confidential
letter of recommendation, however.
How Do I Send Recommendations from my Recommendation File?
In order to have the contents of your recommendation file sent to an employer or graduate school, you must provide the
Career Center with a written request including your signature. Requests must include complete addressee information;
clearly indicating name, title, organization, street address, city, state and zip code. Please allow up to three working days
to process your request. It is your responsibility to make sure this will meet application deadlines. We cannot honor
phone requests. Fax requests are permissible. Call the Career Center if you have any additional questions at (719) 389-
Mail your request to: Colorado College Fax your request to: (719) 389-6804
Career Center For transcripts call: (719) 389-6728
14 E. Cache La Poudre Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Letter of Recommendation
Dear ________________________________________ ,
(Print name of professor or supervisor)
I, __________________________________________ , would appreciate your writing a letter of
recommendation on my behalf for_____________________________________________________.
(Print organization, graduate school, or program)
Students and alumni/ae of the Colorado College are offered an opportunity to establish credentials with the Career
Center. The purpose of this information is to support the candidacy of the student or alumnus in their search for
employment and/or graduate school. If the candidate chooses to retain his/her right to read the attached letter, the
Career Center cannot legally deny the candidate access to the contents of this letter.
CONFIDENTIAL REFERENCE LETTERS: Under the provisions of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974
as amended, a student or alumnus may waive his/her right of access to reference letters obtained with respect to
applications for employment or admission to graduate school. When this form is signed waiving the right to review the
contents of a letter, the candidate creates a Confidential Reference Letter. A copy of the act is available for review in the
I do NOT wish to waive my right to review the contents of this reference letter
I do wish to waive my right to review the contents of this reference letter
Candidate’s Signature Date
Those statements that are most useful to employers usually include the following:
• The capacity in which you have known the candidate
• The length of your association
• The candidate’s performance during your association
• Attributes possessed by the candidate that may be of particular importance for success in the career field of interest of
• A general recommendation and estimate of potential for future development
The information should be typed in dark ink on your letterhead stationery. It will be reproduced exactly as submitted,
including typographical or spelling errors. The Career Center does not alter letters in any way.
Illegal and/or discriminatory reference should not be made to the candidate’s gender, age, race, color, religion,
marital status, sexual orientation, national origin, or handicap (not affecting job performance).
I have read and understand the above guidelines:
_________ _____________________ __________________
Author’s Signature Date
RETURN COMPLETED LETTER WITH SIGNED FORM TO:
14 E. Cache La Poudre
Colorado Springs, CO 80903