Letters of recommendation
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Letters of Recommendation. A Practical Guide for Obtaining Effective References. Need a Recommendation?. This presentation will provide a practical framework for requesting letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation are requested for a number of reasons, most notably:

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Letters of Recommendation

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Letters of recommendation

Letters of Recommendation

A Practical Guide for Obtaining Effective References


Need a recommendation

Need a Recommendation?

  • This presentation will provide a practical framework for requesting letters of recommendation.

  • Letters of recommendation are requested for a number of reasons, most notably:

    • Graduate School

    • Employment Applications

    • Internships

    • Research Assistantships

  • The guidelines provided on the following slides will assist you in obtaining meaningful, effective reference letters for use in academic and professional endeavors.


Before you ask consider

Before You Ask, Consider:

  • Who to ask?

    • Is the writer credible?

      • What position do they hold?

      • Is their position relevant to your application?

      • Does that position allow them to provide an objective reference?

    • Is your request realistic?

      • Will they do it…do they know you?

      • Have you cultivated a professional relationship with the person you are asking?

      • Do you need a letter from more than one source?

    • Timing

      • Will your request allow the writer sufficient time to complete the letter?

      • Allowing 2-3 weeks notice is appropriate.


You know who to ask what now

You Know Who to Ask…What Now?

  • Schedule an appointment.

    • That way, both parties have specific time set aside.

  • Get the details in order:

    • What will the letter be supporting?

    • What format is to be used?

    • Will the recommendation be submitted online?

    • When is it due? Timeline?

    • How will you know when the letter is completed or submitted?

    • How many copies do you need?

    • Do you need a copy for your records?

    • Do you have alternates in the case that your request is denied?


During the appointment

During the Appointment

  • Have relevant information on handand be ready top provide necessary details.

  • Remember the basics:

    • For what position are you applying?

    • How you think their recommendation will benefit your application.

    • Why you chose to ask them.

    • To whom should the letter be addressed?

    • By when does it need to be completed?

    • What format is to be used? Online? Do they mail it in? Do you mail it in?

    • Other directions?

    • Are there particular situations or details that you’d like them to mention?

    • Be as clear and as simple as possible.

  • Remember to say “THANK YOU”.


After the meeting

After the Meeting…

  • It is helpful to send a reminder, listing all details discussed during your meeting.

    • Email is good for this because it provides a printable, saved reference point.

  • Make sure to send an additional “Thank You” for their efforts.

    • A cardis more formal and personal than an email.

  • And finally, let them know the result of your application processes.

    • Did you get the position?

    • How did their letter help?


For review and discussion

For Review and Discussion

  • The next slides provide scenarios in which students are requesting letters of recommendation.

  • Read through each scenario and use the questions as a starting point for discussion.


Example scenario 1

Example Scenario #1

  • Jim needs a letter of recommendation for a summer internship with a local broadcasting company.

    • He hasn’t had a job all semester, and isn’t doing as well as he would like in his current courses.

    • Seeing as how it is late in the winter semester, he is pressed for time to find a source for the needed letter of recommendation.

    • He just so happens to be walking through Gries Hall late one afternoon, and sees the office of a professor who taught one of his classes a few semesters back. Jim did very well in the course, and hasn’t talked with the professor since. The course was not in his major.

    • Jim figures that since he did well in the course, maybe the professor will be willing to write him a letter. He decides to drop in unannounced.

    • The letter is due in one week.

  • What could Jim have done differently?

  • How could his request have been better arranged?

  • Will his request be successful?


Example scenario 2

Example Scenario #2

  • Carolyn needs a letter of recommendation for one of her graduate school applications.

    • She worked closely with a particular professor on two research projects during her junior year. The professor is also her academic adviser, and has helped her with course selection since she was a first year student.

    • Early in the fall semester of her senior year, she schedules an appointment with her adviser to discuss the possibility of obtainingrecommendation letters for her graduate school applications due the following April.

  • How does Carolyn’s request differ from Jim’s?

  • What did Carolyn do well?

  • Will her request be successful?


Good luck

Good Luck!

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