Asking for Letters of Recommendation/References
As a candidate for a job, fellowship or graduate Asking for Recommendations/References
program, you will generally be asked to furnish
either a list of references or letters of • Meet individually with the people you would like to ask. Bring a copy of
recommendation to support your candidacy. your resume, transcript and any other supporting materials that may be
Professors, advisors, coaches and former helpful for them to learn as much about you as possible. Also be sure to
employers are all people to consider asking to bring a brief description of the job field, fellowship or graduate program to
write or speak on your behalf. which you are applying, highlighting the key skills you would like
• If you are asking recommenders to send a letter directly to a recipient, give
• Give a lot of thought to whom you may ask.. them an addressed, stamped envelope.
What skills do you want addressed in the
recommendation? If you are applying for a • Be sure to follow up with a thank you note once you know the letter has been
research position, a professor may be more written.
appropriate than a coach. If you are applying • As well, you should always let recommenders know the outcome of your
for a teaching position, someone who has application or search. These folks have taken time and energy to support
seen you interact with children may be more you – be sure you pay them back with information and gratitude.
appropriate than someone who knows how
well you can analyze data. Ask the people who
best can speak to your pertinent skills and
experiences. YOUR P’S AND Q’S
• If asking for letters of recommendation, give It is very important to remember to thank people who have offered their time to write
your writers at least 2-4 weeks, preferably you a letter. Don’t forget the thank you notes!
more. If you anticipate needing letters of
recommendation for graduate school in 1-3 QUICK TIP
years, you should ask professors and others
Allow for a minimum of 2-4 weeks for references to prepare your letters of
before you leave campus. Often they will recommendation.
make notes or a rough draft that they can use
as a foundation while the work you did for
them is still fresh.
• If asking someone to serve as a verbal
reference for a job position, be sure to send
them a job description for the position or
internship to which you are applying so they
can specifically address how your experiences
relate to the opportunity. Rather than
saying, “He/she is a really good person,” they
can say, “I see you are seeking someone with
strong communications skills. He/she gave
an excellent oral and written presentation for
a project I supervised.”