Letters of Rec Without the Stress

Asking for a letter of rec might feel like the most awkward thing since your unfortunate third grade haircut. It might make you nervous or you might feel like it’s unbalanced.  However, unlike your third grade haircut, asking for a letter of rec doesn’t have to feel like the end of the world. Here are a few ways to make asking for a letter of recommendation a bit less intimidating.

Asking for a letter of rec might feel like the most awkward thing since your unfortunate third grade haircut. It might make you nervous or you might feel like it’s unbalanced.  However, unlike your third grade haircut, asking for a letter of rec doesn’t have to feel like the end of the world.

Here are a few ways to make asking for a letter of recommendation a bit less intimidating:

  1. No matter whether you need a letter for a job application, an internship, an application for graduate school or a scholarship application, the process is pretty similar. However, you always need to make sure you read the application instructions thoroughly to ensure you know who the letter should be from, what the letter should contain and how the letter should be submitted.
  2. Choose your recommender based on the above criteria and your relationships with qualifying individuals. Relationships with potential are something you can think about building. Professors don’t just have office hours for you to ask about homework, they have office hours because they want to know their students. When you need a rec letter, be sure that you are asking someone who knows you well enough to write a full letter. The professor who taught your 500-person lecture four years ago might not be the right person for the job… unless of course you formed a strong relationship with that professor. Employers and mentors are also great people to ask for letters of rec.
  3. Ask your recommender to write you a positive letter of recommendation. Just ask! In person (ideally). You can do it! One of the most important parts of asking someone for a letter of recommendation is to ask your recommender early! Don’t wait until two days before the application is due. Ask them at week, preferably two weeks before the app is due. When you ask your recommender, make sure that you give them all the information necessary to easily write and submit the letter. Remind your recommender of the work you’ve done with them and maybe even include a copy of your current resume.
  4. After your letter is submitted, be sure to follow up with your recommender. Send a thank you note and then let him or her know the outcome of your application.

People like to say nice things for their students and colleagues. Just ask!