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How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

how to ask for a letter of recommendation This task can be difficult, especially if you are not very close to the person from whom you need to get a reference. How to ask for a letter of recommendation? This guide will show you ways to do it.

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

There are certain elements that you must include in your attempt to ask for a letter of recommendation, and this guide will show you what they are. Update: Our Reference-Request Letter Creator and Word templates have been retired, please refer to this article instead.
How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation Guide

Career Help Center

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

How to Write the Email
There are a few steps that you must take when writing an email to your prospective reference.

  • Deadlines
    Be mindful of encroaching deadlines as most of the time, your letter of recommendation is under a time constraint. Plan to write and send your email at least six weeks before the reference is needed.
  • Choose Your Reference Wisely
    Think about whom you are contacting. How does that person fit into what you are trying to achieve with the recommendation? For example, if you are applying for an internship and require a letter from a professor, be sure that you select the appropriate one. You also want to make sure that this person knows who you are.

    Sometimes you are forced to ask someone whom you do not know very well for a reference, and this is going to be a challenge for that person to write about someone they barely know. If you find yourself in this situation, then you should supply most of the information! Feel free to attach a sample letter template that you have written about yourself, and inform them that you have already put something together. Assembling a letter for the reference makes their job easier, and encourages them to give you a good recommendation.
  • Format Your Email Properly
    Begin by using the proper subject heading. The heading should appear as:

    Recommendation for [Your Name]
    This subject line will grab their attention and express to them up-front that you are requesting something from them. Next, you need to address the email properly. Begin your message by saying:

    Dear [Reference Name],
    You can either use a comma or a colon if you need to be more formal, but hopefully, you know this person well enough that you don't have to be completely stiff in your email.

    Now you are ready to begin your first paragraph. Please include information about yourself that the person could use to write their letter. Mention things like your profession, your major, your credentials, why you need a letter of recommendation, and when it is due.

    As you move on to the next paragraph, outline why you chose this person for the recommendation. Also, outline the relationship that you have with them. This part is your chance to butter them up. Discuss the accomplishments they made during their career and how they made an impact on you. This knowledge will make them feel like you have researched who they are and will make them more inclined to do something for you.

    In your last body paragraph, provide your reference with all the information about the letter of recommendation that they need to know. To whom they are writing? When you need them to complete it? Also, where is the letter being sent? These are the major pieces of information required by your contact. You can also make arrangements with them to send the letter yourself — that way, the person referring you does the least amount of work possible. Lastly, don't forget to thank them! They are taking time out of their life to help you, and you need to show your appreciation.
  • Follow Up
    If you haven't heard anything in a week or two, you may send another email or make a phone call to your contact to be sure they have received your request. You could write something like: “I am writing to confirm that you have received my prior email regarding a letter of recommendation.” Moreover, don't forget to check with the program/institution/company that requires the letter of recommendation to confirm that it was received.
  • Gratitude
    After you complete everything, thank your reference again as you couldn't have done this without them! Read our article if you don't know how to write resume references.