Learning how to ask for a letter of recommendation involves some serious thought before asking and a plan of action. Letters of recommendation are necessary when applying for jobs, internships or even meeting up with people in a formal working situation, in some countries. Selecting just the right person for the your letter is important. You want letters from people who love you and are pleased as punch to write to others about how wonderful you are. It takes a bit of serious consideration to know the difference between the two types of people.
You'll need a few things before you do the asking, including;
- copies of your resume
- addresses for the people you want to have letters about you
- stamps and addressed envelopes
- typed description of job, award or application you're apply for
- Pick your targets for requests. A good rule of thumb is to come up with a few extra choices for letters of recommendation. It's not that your selections won't be happy to write a letter, but the recommend writer may be on vacation, out researching or in a particularly grueling time at work. Don't be offended if the writer tells you they'd write a letter any other time but can't take on the extra job at the time you ask. Writing recommends, when done correctly, does take energy and time.
- Make up a resume or CV. A curriculum vitae covers a list of your major achievements in a chronological or topical format, while a resume is a targeted summary of your life under headings that might include education, experience and training. A CV covers more ground. Make up one or both to give to your letter writers who agree to recommend you.
- Copy up the job application, school award or opening or other application that requires a letter of recommendation. If some details are missing from the document or advertisement, type these up to attach to the formal application. A solid letter addresses each of the targeted areas on the application or award announcement.
- Make copies of your CV or resume. Put your best face on the request and spring for copies of your CV or resume on good paper, just like you'd use for a job interview. Make extras, just in case your letter writer misplaces one when you call for your follow up..
- Buy some deluxe paper envelopes and stamps. Go with envelopes that are resume-quality paper.
- Address the envelopes with the information to get the recommend to the right person and place. Type these, don't scrawl in handwriting. If you have to use handwriting, go for dark ink.
- Format your online CV or resume for sending. If you've asked the person via email or telephone and won't see the author in person, it's OK to send a copy of your CV or resume by email. Do this ASAP after the person has given you the OK to write the letter.
- Email or call about the letter. Let a week go by and send an email thanking the person for taking time to write you a letter of recommendation. This is a polite way to ask, "Hey! Have you sent my letter yet?!"
- Visit people you don't know that well. Do the face-to-face thing for recommenders you don't know well. Your face should be familiar to them. If not, ask someone else.
- Send formal thank you notes. Wait just over a week and send a handwritten note on a nice card to thank your recommenders.
Ask your authors at least three weeks before the recommend is due.