Letter of Recommendation

(re: jobs, grants, scholarships, further education, etc)

No one achieves success alone. We rely on others to speak on our behalf, often in the form of letters of recommendation for employment, grants, fellowships, scholarships, and further education. Thus, you should never be shy about asking for such support. Your professors had mentors who did this for them in the past, and are happy to support deserving students.

1. Plan ahead whenever possible and read all application materials and procedures carefully.

2. The best referee is someone who knows you well and can speak about you specifically and anecdotally. If an application requires more than one referee, consider asking people who can address different aspects of your accomplishments.

3. Allow a minimum of 2 weeks between the time when the referee receives all the information necessary to write the letter and the submission deadline. Confirm how the referee would like to be contacted (by telephone or email). Make certain that you have their current title and contact information.

4. Never list someone’s name as a reference without asking her/him first.

5. Once a referee has agreed to write on your behalf, supply her/him with everything that they will need at one time and in a convenient format. Typically this includes a) descriptive information particular to the award/opportunity; b) all forms that will need to be completed by the referee; c) submission deadline; d) notes on what may make you distinct from other applicants.

6. Thank your referee (formally) and inform her/him of the outcome of the application (regardless of whether you are successful for not). It is the polite and professional thing to do.