Read the instructions for writing a request for a letter of recommendation (attached). THEN, write a fake request for a letter of recommendation in a Word document. You can choose who you want to address it to (it can be me or another one of your professors/employers). For full credit, write the subject line, the greeting, the 4-5 paragraphs, and the thank you, as well as your sign off at the end. Employ a persuasive and professional tone at all times. Save this assignment because you never know when you might need to ask for a letter of recommendation for real!
Click on the title of the assignment above to find the submission box. Attach your word document.
- Subject, Greeting, and signature at the end – 5 points
- Body Paragraphs – personal, unique, and persuasive appeals employed – 5 points each
- You may lose 1 point per error in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization.
Requesting a Letter of Recommendation
Many schools, internships, or jobs will require you to present letters of recommendation from former professors, employers, or non-relatives who can be character references. To obtain a letter of recommendation, you need to know how to ask for one, professionally.
1. Choose an appropriate person. Before you choose which person to ask for a recommendation, ask yourself:
· Does this person know my name and something about me?
· Have I ever spoken to this professor outside of class or employer outside of work?
· Did this professor give me a grade of ‘B’ or higher in the course? Did this employer ever recommend me for a promotion or commend my work?
· Have I kept in touch with this person since leaving their class/place of employment?
2. Put “Recommendation for [your name]?” as the subject line.
3. Address the letter properly. Even in an e-mail, you want it to look nice. If you were on a first name basis (meaning they specifically asked you to call them by their first name and you did so constantly) address it by their first name. Otherwise use their appropriate title. Let’s pretend we’re writing a letter to Dr. Jones who was your professor for Archaeology. Dr. Jones was not on a first name basis with you, so you will start the letter with, “Dear Dr. Jones” followed by a comma or a colon. Make sure you spell their name right!
4. Start the first paragraph by stating what you want: “I am writing to ask if you would be willing to write a letter of recommendation for me.” Do not keep him or her guessing. In the next few sentences, lay out the facts:
· Your name
· Year in school/Major
· Which course or courses you took with this professor, when, and what grade you earned, OR what you did for this person while working with them
· Why you need a recommendation [that is, what you are applying for]
· When the recommendation letter is due
5. Outline your relationship with this person in the following paragraph and point out why you have asked him or her specifically. Tell a little about yourself and why you are interested in the scholarship, graduate program, or job for which you need the reference. You should also attach your resume, if you have one.
6. Use the third paragraph as an opportunity to hint at what you’d like the professor to say about you: You’ll want to include any information about yourself which they may not be aware of. Some subtle ways of letting them know are:
· “I believe that you’re aware through our conversations and my participation in your course that I’m dedicated to the field of archeology. I’ve completed my degree in Archeology as of June of this year. I also have extensive experience in cataloging items gained through my internship.”
· “My other references will be able to talk about my academic ability, but you are the only one who really knows how hard I worked outside of classes and some of the obstacles I faced. I was hoping maybe you could talk about how I handle stress and deal with setbacks, because those are qualities the selection committee wants to see.”
7. Give them the details. Where does the letter need to go? And when do you need it? You’re already asking them to put themselves out and write the letter for you. Don’t ask them to address it and put postage on it for you, too. You want to be the LEAST amount of trouble, so they are not annoyed by having to do work you could have done for them (and should have). Plus, this way you can assure yourself that it was sent. If they offer to mail it for you, let them. If they’re always forgetting to do things like put items in the mail or grade exams, then tell them that you need or want to present it in person with other letters, or other materials. That way you can be sure you have it. But include this in the e-mail so they know the time frame.
8. Close with information about how you will follow-up: “I’ll drop off the form and a stamped, addressed envelope in your faculty mailbox this week. I’ll also send you an email reminder a week before the recommendation is due.” Or, “I need to submit the letter of recommendation by August 3rd. If you’re willing to write me a recommendation letter, please let me know and I’d be happy to come by any time to pick it up.”
9. Thank them, whether or not they write the letter. “Thank you in advance for your time, and consideration. I also wanted to extend an additional thank you for the time I spent under your instruction. I really enjoyed your course, and I can’t express how much I’ve taken away from Archeology 101.” If they were truly that special teacher, you can be more effusive in your praise. “I know I’ll take the things I’ve learned in that course, and apply them in my life’s work. Your mentoring really had a positive impact in my life, and I can never thank you enough.” Offer to write the recommendation letter yourself and have them sign it. This way, it saves them time and effort so they will be more willing to do it, and you will be able to include any content you want.
Other things to remember about requesting a Letter of Recommendation:
Prepare to send your email request at least 5-6 weeks before the date by which the recommendation must be received. Don’t wait until the last minute to ask them. They lead busy lives, and you don’t want them to rush through your recommendation, if they can even make the time to write it.
Follow through as promised by delivering necessary materials and sending a reminder. Follow up the e-mail with a phone call if you haven’t heard anything in a week, two at the most. If you need to call, don’t assume anything. First, see if they’ve even seen your e-mail. If not, be prepared to do your request verbally.
Before the deadline, take responsibility for checking with the scholarship program, graduate school, or prospective employer to verify that the recommendation was received. If not, send a brief, polite email to the professor and offer to pay for overnight delivery.
Thank them again. After you get your letter of recommendation, send a thank you note to the professor. If the recommendation is in the right hands, send the professor a hand-written thank you note via U.S. mail, not via email. It’s not only polite and the right thing to do, but you never know when that will pay benefits down the road. You may need another letter at another time, or if you’re in a similar field, they may be able to assist you at some other time. If the letter does the trick and gets you the position, call the professor to share the good news!