Do you need a lot of letters of recommendation for grad school and / or job applications? Follow these three steps to have the best chance at getting excellent letters:
1) provide your full name, dates of experience with recommender, and name of the course, program or organization where you interacted
2) provide a clear, concise summary of the work you did (assignments, projects). Add specific comments that person made on your work if you can.
3) provide a clear, concise summary of the connections between your experiences with the recommender and whatever you are applying for.
If you can, also look at the information requested from recommenders. Is it a letter? Answers to specific questions? A form to be filled out? Try to customize the information you provide to whatever is being requested.
If you can’t remember all the information in items 1-3, reconsider asking for a recommendation–because if you can’t remember, the person you are asking isn’t going to have a better memory of your experience.
If you send supplemental information, such as a resume, make sure your experiences with the recommender are included. If your experiences with that person are not important enough to include, reconsider asking for a recommendation.
Here’s an example: I teach Spanish. Spanish classes are small in size so I know all my students’ names. We interact a lot. For all of those reasons, I get a lot of letter of recommendation requests. Rarely do those requests come with a resume that includes anything about Spanish.
My personal preference would be to simply not receive a resume at all–the more supplemental information I receive, the longer I procrastinate on writing the letter. That’s just me–I know others specifically request supplemental information such as resumes. But if you send a recommender a resume, that person’s experiences with you must be reflected there.
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