Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are written evaluations of an individual’s performance whether at work or in the classroom. This information is an integral part of the world of education, health care, social services and many other industries. You can gather letters of recommendation from instructors, advisers, supervisors or anyone who has witnessed your abilities.

If it is that you will be utilizing this letter multiple times, please direct your letter writer to keep the letter general and do not address the letter to anyone in particular.

Choosing Your Letter of Recommendation Writer(s)

  • Be sure to ask individuals who will provide honest, candid, and positive recommendations
  • Select professionals; do not select friends
  • Provide the individual an opportunity to decline your request (some individuals may not feel capable due to not knowing you well enough, may not have the time, or may feel uncomfortable writing a letter of recommendation for you)

When to Ask

The sooner the better.  If you are planning on applying to graduate programs you may want to let your letter writer know when you will be applying.  Also, many letter writers are not usually writing for just you.  They may be writing letters of recommendation for other students so keep this in mind. 

After They Have Agreed

  • Have a conversation with your letter writer and discuss your career goals or your reason for wanting to attend graduate school or apply for a job
  • Tell them what you have been doing while in school and/or working
  • Explain the graduate program or position so they have an understanding of what you’ll be doing
  • Inform them of what is valued in a candidate for the program or job you are seeking

What to Provide

  • Resume
  • Cover Letter or Personal Statement
  • Any other helpful documents you provided to the school or employer
  • Deadline for letter submission
  • Transcripts (optional)

When You Accept Your New Opportunity

Always follow up with your letter writer when you have accepted. Send them a thank you note telling them about your new opportunity.

Additional Tips

  • Make sure to carefully read the job description and what is needed to apply
  • When applying for a job, provide letters of recommendation only when asked
  • When applying for graduate programs, be certain to know the school’s letter of recommendation submission process (some schools will contact your letter of recommendation writer on your behalf with instructions)
  • Remember that people have busy lives
  • If there are deadlines, be sure to tell your letter writer
  • Check in with them if necessary while being respectful and gracious