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How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation: Tips and Templates

We're here to help you master the art of requesting a letter of recommendation —even when the anxiety sets in.
March 6, 2023
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Let's face it – recommendation letters add spice to your resume. They offer a glimpse into your character, work ethic, and potential. Employers and admissions committees want more than just words on paper; they want assurance that you're the real deal. A well-crafted letter can highlight your strengths and potential contributions, making you stand out in a sea of applications.

But unfortunately, asking for a recommendation letter is awkward and nerve-racking. It's like shooting your shot with your crush; only your career is on the line instead of your love life. 

According to a recent National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) survey, 67% of employers consider a candidate's recommendation letters when making hiring decisions. That's right – more than half of employers weigh these letters heavily. They're not just checking boxes but digging for insight into who you are.

And it's not just employers; the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) found that a strong recommendation letter can boost your chances of admission to graduate programs by a whopping 32%.

Enough with the scary statistics; we're here to hold your hand through the anxiety of asking for recommendation letters. While we're no love gurus, we are certified in all things professional development- including recommendation letters. Think of us as your genie in a bottle; we'll even tell you what to say!

How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation:

A. Choosing someone to ask

  • Who should you pick?

When selecting a recommender, opt for people who know you well and can speak to your academic performance, skills, character, and potential. Professors from classes where you excelled, supervisors from internships or part-time jobs, and mentors from extracurricular activities are all excellent options. 

Before you even ask for a recommendation letter, it's important to establish a strong relationship with your potential recommender. Engage in class discussions, attend office hours, and participate in relevant activities to ensure they know you beyond your academic performance.

We recommend you create a list of 5-10 individuals you want to ask in case only some are willing to. Avoid selecting family or close friends for this task. While they might be able to attest to you're ability to burp your ABCs or cook some mean pancakes, employers are more likely to think these recommendations are biased.

  • When should you ask?

Don't wait until the last minute to ask for a recommendation letter. Professors and mentors have busy schedules, so it's important to give them ample time to write a thoughtful letter. Aim to ask at least 4-6 weeks before the deadline.

B. Asking for a letter of recommendation


  • What should you includein your letter od recommendation request email?

 When you ask for a recommendation, provide the recommender with important information, such as the purpose of the recommendation letter, the specific program or opportunity you're applying for, relevant deadlines, and any key points you'd like them to address.

  • Why are they the right person to recommend for you?

Don't forget to offer context. Whether you are a student or an intern, chances are your recommender has mentored many people. Remind your recommender about specific projects, assignments, or experiences you shared with them. This will help them recall your contributions and create a more personalized recommendation letter.

C. Following up after you ask someone

  • When should you follow up?

Follow up with a polite reminder a week or two before your letters are due. This is a good opportunity to thank them for writing the letter and offer to send any additional information they may need.

But don't just leave it at that— Just like you would with an interview, send a heartfelt thank you note. And be sure to update your recommenders with the good news when you're accepted to the role!

Letter of Recommendation Email Template

Like we said—genie in a bottle; use this template to get you started on your letter of recommendation request.

Dear Ms./Mr./Dr. [Recommender Name],

I hope you're doing well. I'm applying to [school or company name] and would like to know if you feel comfortable writing a strong letter of recommendation on my behalf.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time as [your relationship to the recommender]. As my [teacher/counselor/manager], I believe you could vouch for my [list of skills or qualifications].

I have included a copy of my resume, a list of my accomplishments and the job posting for your reference. Additionally, if you would prefer, I could write a draft of my letter of recommendation for you to review and approve or adjust if needed. Please let me know if this is your preference.

I would greatly appreciate it if you could write and return the letter of recommendation to me by (name a date at least two weeks before you plan to use it). This will provide me enough time to forward it onto the recruiters and hiring managers at (company).

Thank you for your time and consideration.

[Your Name]
[Your phone number]
[Your email address]


Dear [Recipient's Name],

I hope this message finds you in good health. I want to extend my heartfelt appreciation for the time you dedicated to our conversation earlier today. Our discussion about the [Job/Admission Opportunity Name] at [Company/Institution Name] has only deepened my excitement about the potential to contribute and grow in such a dynamic environment.

As I mentioned, a key component of the application process is a letter of recommendation from a former employer. Reflecting on my professional journey, your firsthand experience with my work makes you an ideal candidate to provide insights into my skills and capabilities. Your unique perspective holds the potential to greatly enhance my application.|

Specifically, I am hopeful that you might shed light on my [Highlight Relevant Skills/Qualities], which I believe align seamlessly with the demands of the [Job/Admission Opportunity Name] role. Your perspective on [Key Skill/Quality] and [Another Key Skill/Quality] would undoubtedly resonate with the selection committee.

To ensure our alignment with the application timeline, the recommendation letter is requested by [Due Date]. I kindly ask that you submit it via email to [Submission Email Address]. I am entirely understanding of any commitments or constraints you may have, and should this request present any challenges, please do not hesitate to inform me.

For your convenience, I have attached my cover letter and resume to this email. Should you require further context or information, please feel free to reach out. Your participation in this process means a great deal to me, and I am genuinely grateful for your consideration.

Thank you once again for your time and support. I am eager to seize this opportunity with the strength of your endorsement behind me.

Warm regards,
[Your Full Name]

Requesting a recommendation letter as a college student might seem daunting, but with careful planning and respectful communication, it can be a smooth and rewarding experience. 

Remember that the relationships you build during college can have a lasting impact, so approach the process with sincerity and gratitude. Following these steps will increase your chances of receiving strong, meaningful recommendation letters highlighting your unique qualities and potential.

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