8 Tips on How to Ask for a Recommendation Letter

by McKenzie Chapman   Ulticareer  | Job search  | Advice  | Opportunity  | Career decisions  | Building connections  | Networking  | Work tips  | Career advancement  | 

Asking for a letter of recommendation will likely be a large part of your job search.


If you read our post on who to ask for a reference letter, you should already have a few people in mind that you’re going to contact.


Here are some tips on how to ask for a letter of recommendation so that you can make the process a breeze:


1. Give them ample time

When you’re asking someone for a favor, you don’t want them to be rushed. Let them know when you need it by, and ask them as soon as you know you need and want to. Don’t beat around the bush, wondering if you should ask or not and leave it to the last minute. The longer you give the person, the more likely they are to accept and take their time writing their recommendation.


2. Be nice & polite

This almost goes without saying, but just to reiterate: be nice! You’re asking for a favor from someone you highly respect, and you want to ensure their impression of you remains positive. So be friendly and polite in your tone and you’re more likely to receive positivity back in your letter.


3. Write and edit carefully

Although you’re not asking this person for a job, and they have a positive, past experience with you, it’s still important to take care in your writing and editing. You’re asking them to write a thoughtful recommendation of your character, experience, and potential, so you don’t want to start off with the impression you can’t spell or proofread.  


4. Include a recap of your relationship

Briefly remind the person of your experiences together. If you worked on any projects together, or received awards during your association with them, give a quick summary of them. This will help jog the person’s memory and guide them in the right direction in terms of what you think would be most helpful to mention in the letter.


5. Highlight their qualifications to vouch for you

While you’re at it, mention the reasons you think they’re so great too! Sometimes people can be unsure of why you chose them to recommend you. Highlight their qualifications by briefly listing out their experience with your field and how it relates to your new position.


6. Include all useful info

Try to include all of the information they’ll need. If they need to follow a template, include it. If they don’t need to follow one, you may think of providing one anyway since it might make it easier for them. Make sure they know who to send it to, when you need it by, what the position is, and why you’re so excited about it. The less follow up questions they have to ask you, the better!


7. Give the person an option out

You’re not guaranteed a yes from this person. You may ask for a letter of recommendation and they simply don’t have time to write one for you. You can offer to write it for them and then have them sign off on it. But you should also make it clear that you completely understand if they can’t do it at all. This is someone you respect, and you don’t want them to feel forced into writing a letter or to risk souring the relationship in any way. Giving the person an out will make it easier for the both of you if they can’t do it.


8. Write a thank you note

When you do get a letter of recommendation, always remember to express your gratitude. Write a thank you note, and let them know if there’s ever a time in the future when they need the favor reciprocated they can count on you.


When you ask politely and inform thoroughly, the process of asking for a letter of recommendation will go smoothly.


Do you have any additional tips? Did a letter of recommendation help you get hired to your job? Share your story on UltiCareer to help others on their job search get to know what your type of job is really like.

on UltiCareer to help others on their job search, get to know what your type of job is really like.

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