Letter of Recommendation Tips

Whether you’re trying to get into college or already there, chances are, you will have to ask for a letter of recommendation at some point. When applying to internships, universities, or sometimes jobs, you will be asked to provide a letter of recommendation.

Letters of rec are testimonies of your strength and why you deserve to be accepted into a program or hired for the job. There are some things you should keep in mind during the process of getting your letters in order to maximize your chances of success.

1) Ask someone who knows you well. The first step is deciding who should write your letter of recommendation. I suggest that you ask someone who knows you well or has known you for quite some time. They will be able to provide concrete examples of your qualifications as opposed to generic statements. The more specific, the better. Don’t ask immediate relatives or friends. Although they know you well, they should not be writing your letter of rec.

2) Ask well ahead of time. Make sure you give the person who is writing your letter an ample amount of time to write the letter for you. If they are a former employer or professor, chances are that they are very busy people. Don’t wait until the last minute to ask, because the person who you are asking will probably say no, due to the time constraints. After asking, check in every once in a while (without pestering your person) to see how things are going.

3) Provide any necessary materials needed. The person you ask needs to focus all their attention on the actual letter and not envelopes, stamps, etc. If it’s something they should e-mail, provide them with the appropriate e-mail address. If it’s something they should mail, provide them with an envelop with the recipient’s address and a stamp on the front.

4) Draft a list of key points to be highlighted. Even if the person who is writing your letter of rec knows you well, it’s a good idea to provide them with a list of key points that you want them to highlight. Every program/internship/job looks for a different set of qualifications, so the list would help your recommendor focus on strengths that are more pertinent to what you’re applying for. The more tailored the letter, the better.

5) Follow up. Make sure that the person you asked has actually sent the letter before the deadline. Sometimes your professor might get caught up in their other responsibilities and forget! A friendly reminder every now and then will prevent that from being an issue.

6) Say Thank You.  If someone is taking the time out of their lives to sing your praises, the least you can do is thank them for all their hard work. A simple card will do the trick, but a thank you in person is even better. You never know if you’ll need another letter of rec or favor from the individual, and at the end of the day, it’s the right thing to do.

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Pamela Nonga

Pamela Nonga

Pamela Nonga is a second year at the University of California Davis double majoring in Political Science and Communications. When she’s not theorizing about the greater meaning behind her day-to-day experiences on her blog, you can find her on a run, enjoying a blend of the outdoors and her favorite tunes. Pamela loves to read, write, and travel, and hopes to work in the fields of Journalism and Media as a career.
Pamela Nonga

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