How To Ask For A Letter Of Recommendation – 4 Steps & Tips

Christina J Colclough

By Christina Colclough

Last updated:

A lot of employment applications provide you the option to include references or the name of a previous colleague or manager who may vouch for your talents as an employee. Thus, suppose you want your application materials to seem more credible; seeking a letter of recommendation is a smart move. 

Employee Referral Program text

So what is a letter of recommendation and what is its meaning? How to ask someone to write a letter of recommendation? Let’s dive right in to get the simple guide and examples!

What Is A Letter Of Recommendation?

A letter of recommendation can be considered a chance to make a great first impression. It is a document written by someone who is reliable enough to prove your moral character, professional performance, and/or academic standing. By the conclusion, the reader ought to feel better informed about you, which will aid them in making important judgments.

Recommendation letters are often included as a prerequisite for college applications. When applying to undergraduate programs or, occasionally, graduate programs, one to three of these letters will be required.

Generally speaking, these letters are not as frequently required for job applications as reference lists are, but occasionally they are. Although a reference letter is not necessary for a job application, including one with your application or cover letter may help you stand out from the competition.

How To Request For A Letter Of Recommendation: Step By Step

Business meeting for referal program

It’s quite common to have anxiety while requesting a recommendation letter. Although it might not seem comfortable at first, this is a typical step in the application process. You may increase the chance that you will receive excellent recommendations by being prepared. 

How to ask a teacher for a letter of recommendation? Luckily, the following steps also apply in this situation.

Step 1: Choose A Person To Ask

Someone who is close to you and has a genuine connection to your character will be able to suggest you most effectively. Think about the people who are most suited to send you a recommendation letter from your network. What makes you require the suggestion may choose who you select.

For instance, supervisors or coworkers who have seen and worked with you in the past could be able to offer the most insightful feedback if the letters are intended for future employment prospects. If the suggestion is for an academic setting, you may want to look for advisors or instructors who have knowledge of your academic standing.

Don’t choose close friends or relatives for this work. These suggestions are probably more prejudiced or less accurate in the eyes of employers.

Step 2: Get Your Resume Ready

Making it simple for the writer to emphasize your successes and unique qualities is one of the finest strategies to receive an effective recommendation. Giving a copy of your résumé and academic credentials to the individual composing your letter is one simple approach to do this.

  • A current resume
  • What you’re doing or your current position
  • The reasons behind your qualification
  • Relevant work practices, achievements in school, or abilities
  • Requested deadline (if applicable) and the address for sending the referral

Attaching your most recent résumé may also enable the person you’re contacting to become acquainted with you or review your qualifications rapidly.

Step 3: Send The Request

You should write or email a formal, individualized reference request to each of your chosen recommendations once you’ve confirmed with them. As mentioned before, you have to incorporate the documents and information listed above in your request so that they may feel at ease and ready to write the letter.

Note: Have face-to-face conversations with the person before submitting an official, written request for a strong letter of recommendation. It might make you feel more at ease and self-assured to prepare your speech in advance. Give a brief explanation of your application and your motivation for seeking this individual to endorse you.

Step 4: Say Thank You

After your compelling recommendation letters arrive, thank those who sent your letters of reference. Expressing gratitude to your recommenders is a customary politeness that will probably guarantee their continued support of your future success as well as let them know you appreciate their gesture.

Send them an email or a handwritten note to thank them for their assistance. When you receive an acceptance letter for the position, remember to follow up with your referrers to let them know the good news.

Sample Email

This is an example of requesting a letter of recommendation that you may provide to a former colleague, manager, instructor, or school counselor.

Hello Mr/Ms. [Name]

I hope this week is going well for you!

I’m contacting you because I’m looking for [kind of employment] at [type of firm], and I’m gathering some recommendation letters to highlight my qualifications for this kind of work.

I had a great experience working with you at [Company], especially when we were able to work together on [project]. In light of this, I believe you would be a fantastic candidate to attest to my proficiency in [important skills] and my capacity to [outcome].

I would be very grateful if you could compose a letter of reference for me that highlights the excellent work habits I’ve demonstrated since getting to know you.

[Date] is when the letter must be submitted. In the event that you cannot deliver a letter by the deadline, kindly inform me as soon as possible.

I have attached most of my required information and documents in this email for you to use as references. Furthermore, I would be pleased to provide you with any material I have that would be useful to you in writing the letter in greater detail. On my part, I appreciate your valuable time and work.


[Your name]

Tips For Asking For Letters Of Recommendation

A strong reference letter may greatly increase your chances of getting accepted. But asking for these letters can be difficult. Here are some helpful hints to guide you through this important part of your journey.

  • Ask ahead of time to provide enough time: Around the time of college application deadlines, subject teachers and faculty members can get overwhelming requests for reference letters. They will have more time and attention to devote to reading your message if you ask well in advance.
  • Ask someone else if you perceive hesitancy: It is ideal to have strong recommendation letters that speak highly of you. It’s best to ask someone who can provide a solid reference if the first person hesitates or declines your request.
  • Request a recommendation letter from your employer before leaving: This is particularly true if your manager and you have a good working relationship. While your manager is still thinking back on the difference you’ve made, get a letter now. You’ll be prepared to send it to possible employers.
  • Provide your writer with the job description: Your letter will have a greater effect when your writer is aware of the criteria of the position you are hoping to get. For instance, let’s say you are applying for the tax analyst role. In this case, the writer can highlight your ability to accurately explain complicated tax information to customers in the letter.
  • Provide guidance instead of scripting: You can provide direction on what you would like the letter to cover. Still, notice that you should not script the entire endorsement. It is important to hear the real voice and perspective of your recommenders. Rather, provide suggestions for important themes or experiences they might want to share, allowing them to express themselves honestly.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Early Should I Ask For A Letter Of Recommendation?

Give them at least two weeks, ideally three or four, to finish the recommendation. You should be kind, as most instructors and staff are quite busy and have a lot of recommendations to write. Considering their schedule and other commitments, this gives your recommender ample time to craft an impactful letter.

Is It Rude To Ask A Professor For Multiple Letters Of Recommendation?

It’s generally acceptable to ask a professor for multiple letters of recommendation if the requests are for different purposes and spaced out over time. However, it’s essential to be considerate of their time and workload. Clearly communicate the reasons for each request and express gratitude for their assistance.

What To Do If I Can’t Get A Letter Of Recommendation?

If you don’t get a letter, stay calm and relax; it’s not necessarily the end of the road. If you can’t obtain a traditional letter of recommendation, focus on highlighting your achievements and key skills through other means, such as your portfolio, work samples, certificates related to the work requirement, LinkedIn recommendations, etc.

The Bottom Line

Want to ask for a recommendation letter? Just follow our guidance, and you are good to go!

Requesting a letter of recommendation should be simple if you have a clear plan in place. Also, remember that if someone declines your request, it might just indicate that they are too busy to write more. If so, review your first list of possible referees and take another shot!

Share on:
Christina J Colclough

Christina J. Colclough

Dr Christina J. Colclough is an expert on The Future World of Work and the politics of digital technology advocating globally for the importance of the workers’ voice. She has extensive regional and global labour movement experience, is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach, and strategist advising progressive governments and worker organisations.

Leave a Comment