3 Things You Must Do to Get a Good Letter of Recommendation

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.

Need help preparing your job search materials? Contact me: darcylear@gmail.com

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This entry was posted in Career Advice, document preparation, Professors Best Kept Secrets. Bookmark the permalink.

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