Application tips

Tips for Asking for a Letter of Recommendation

A good letter of recommendation is a great way to stand out from other applicants. Here’s how to ask for a recommendation letter to secure your perfect position!

Leila Le
Published: (Updated: ) - 7 min read

Photo by Scott Graham / Unsplash

Asking for a letter of recommendation can be intimidating, but it is a valuable tool for advancing your career and achieving your goals. By following the tips outlined in this blog post, you can effectively request and receive strong letters of recommendation that will support your application and increase your chances of success!

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

The importance of having strong letters of recommendation for job applications and other professional opportunities is undeniable. A well-written recommendation letter can make the difference between gaining an opportunity or losing it. A letter of recommendation should present a persuasive case for why a potential employer would want to hire you. It should include examples of your character, skills, and experience that make you the ideal candidate for the position you are applying for. It should also be tailored to the specific role and written by a credible source who can speak to your qualifications. Here are some guiding principles on how to approach the process of getting a letter written for you.

  1. Be clear about the purpose of the letter: Before asking for a letter of recommendation, be sure to explain the purpose of the letter and how it will be used. This will help the person writing the letter to understand the context and tailor their letter to your specific needs.
  2. Consider offering to write a draft: If you are unsure about what to include in the letter, consider offering to write a draft for the person to review and edit. This can save them time and effort, and it can also help to ensure that the letter covers all of the important points.
  3. Provide information about the opportunity: In addition to providing information about what you need in the letter, be sure to also provide the person with information about the opportunity for which you are applying. This might include the job description, the requirements, and any other relevant information that will help them to write a strong letter of recommendation.
  4. Follow proper etiquette: Finally, be sure to follow proper etiquette when asking for a letter of recommendation. This might include writing a formal request letter, thanking the person in advance for their time and effort, and offering to provide any additional information or assistance they may need. By following proper etiquette, you can show your professionalism and make the process of asking for a letter of recommendation more smooth and successful.

What are They Used For?

Letters of recommendation are typically used when applying for jobs, internships, fellowships, or scholarships. They provide an opportunity for peers, supervisors, and other contacts to attest to the applicant’s character, work ethic, and qualifications. A well-written letter of recommendation can help an applicant stand out from the competition, and it can also be a great way for potential employers to learn more about the applicant’s qualifications.

Letters of recommendation are an important part of the job application process since they provide a third-party perspective on the applicant’s qualifications. A strong letter of recommendation can help to demonstrate that the applicant is a reliable and qualified candidate. This can be particularly beneficial for students who may not have a long work history or for applicants with a gap in their professional experience.

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Elevate your job application with a strong letter of recommendation from a respected professional!

1. Choose a Trusted Person

The first step to requesting a letter of recommendation is to choose a trusted person who can attest to your skills, qualifications, and character. Make sure to select someone who knows you well and can speak of your work in a credible manner. Consider people in positions of authority, such as supervisors, teachers, graduates, or others in the professional sector.

When choosing someone to request a letter of recommendation from, it is important to consider their relationship to you. Ideally, you should choose someone who has worked with you closely and can speak to your skills and accomplishments in detail. If you are a student, consider selecting a teacher or professor who has had you in multiple classes and can speak to your academic abilities. If you are seeking a job or internship, consider choosing a supervisor or coworker who has had the opportunity to work with you closely and can speak to your work ethic and skills.

2. Provide Your Resume and Transcripts

When asking for a letter of recommendation, be sure to provide the person with a copy of your resume and transcripts. This will help them to better understand your qualifications and experience, and it can provide them with additional context to include in the letter. Be sure to include any relevant coursework or projects that you have completed, as well as any relevant work experience or internships. This information can help the person writing the letter to highlight specific skills or accomplishments that you have.

Additionally, consider providing the person with any specific instructions or guidelines that may be required for the letter of recommendation. For example, if you are applying for a job or internship, you may want to provide the person with the job description and requirements so that they can tailor the letter to the specific role you are applying for. By providing the person with your resume and transcripts, you can help to ensure that the letter of recommendation accurately reflects your skills and qualifications and is tailored to your specific needs.

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3. If Possible, Talk to them in Person

If possible, try to talk to the person in person before requesting a letter of recommendation. This gives you an opportunity to discuss your qualifications and accomplishments face-to-face, and it can give the person a better understanding of who you are and why you are applying for a particular opportunity. You can also use this opportunity to express your appreciation for the person and explain why you are requesting a letter of recommendation from them specifically.

If you are unable to meet with the person in person, consider calling or emailing them to discuss your request. This will give you an opportunity to have a more personal conversation and provide additional context for your request. Overall, by talking to the person in person or via phone or email, you can help to ensure that the letter of recommendation accurately reflects your skills and qualifications and is tailored to your specific needs.

4. Follow Up Before They are Due

Be sure to follow up with the person writing the letter of recommendation before the deadline. This will help to ensure that they are aware of when the letter needs to be submitted, and it can also help to answer any last minute questions they may have. Consider sending a reminder email or giving them a call to inquire about the status of the letter. It is important to be respectful of their time and not to be too pushy, but a gentle reminder can be helpful in ensuring that the letter is completed in a timely manner.


It is also a good idea to provide the person with any necessary instructions or guidelines for submitting the letter of recommendation. This can include the deadline, the format that the letter should be in, and any specific requirements or preferences that you or the recipient may have. By following up before the deadline and providing necessary instructions, you can help to ensure that the letter of recommendation is submitted on time and meets any necessary requirements.

5. Send a Sincere Thank You

Finally, be sure to send a sincere thank you to the person who wrote the letter of recommendation. This can help to demonstrate your appreciation for their time and effort and can also strengthen your relationship with them. Consider sending a handwritten note or an email expressing your gratitude. You can also follow up with the person after you receive any decisions or updates about the opportunity you applied for. This can be a good opportunity to let them know how things turned out and to express your appreciation again.

Sending a thank you letter is important for several reasons. First, it is a sign of respect to the individual who wrote the letter of recommendation, and it shows them that you appreciate their time and effort. Additionally, it can serve as an expression of gratitude and help to strengthen your relationship with them. Lastly, a thank you letter can also demonstrate professionalism and show that you are sincerely thankful for their help.

Need a thank you letter template?

Dear [Name], 

I wanted to reach out and express my sincere gratitude for writing such a fantastic letter of recommendation for me. Your words of praise and support meant a lot to me, and I am incredibly grateful for your willingness to take the time to write such a thoughtful letter. I cannot thank you enough for your generosity and support. Your recommendation has meant so much to me, and I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to work with you.

 Sincerely, 

[Your Name]

Example Template:

Dear [Name],

I am writing to request a letter of recommendation for [opportunity/position]. I have greatly appreciated your [relationship to the person] and value your opinion.

I am applying for [opportunity/position] and believe that a letter of recommendation from you would greatly enhance my application. I have included a copy of my resume and a list of my accomplishments and experiences that I believe are relevant to this opportunity.

If you are able to write a letter of recommendation, I would greatly appreciate it. I understand that this is a significant request and am grateful for any time and effort you are able to contribute. Please let me know if you need any additional information or if there is anything else I can do to assist you in writing this letter.

Thank you for considering my request. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

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In conclusion, letters of recommendation are an important part of the job application and professional development process. By understanding the value of these letters and taking the time to ask for and write strong ones, you can increase your chances of success and achieve your career goals.

With Simplify, you can easily find and apply for jobs that match your skills and interests. Our comprehensive assessments, personalized career recommendations, and powerful job search platform can help you land your dream job. Sign up today and start your journey towards career success!

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