Asking for Recommendations

In seeking employment or admission to graduate or professional school, you often need letters of recommendation.  We expect to support our majors in this way, so do not be shy about asking us to write on your behalf.  And, since writing multiple letters for you is little more work than writing one—the lion’s share of our effort comes in crafting that first letter, which can then be tweaked to suit different recipients—do not feel as though you need to ask different people to write different letters.

There are a few things you can do to make this process go more smoothly:

  1. Give us definite and realistic deadlines.  Knowing exactly when you need a letter submitted helps us to organize our work on your behalf—don’t generously tell us that we can write “whenever we have time.”  Writing a strong letter also takes time, so make sure you give us enough advance warning to devote the commitment and energy necessary for this important task.
  2. Help your professors understand your achievements outside of class and remember your achievements in it.  When you give us your recommendation forms, provide us with as much useful information as you can—a resumé, a copy of an especially good paper—so we can write specific, convincing letters.
  3. If you need multiple letters, compile a detailed list of deadlines and specific requirements.  This helps both you and your recommender(s) keep the process of letter-writing and submitting under control so that none of your letters falls through the cracks.
  4. Make sure you sign and fill out all the paperwork that needs to accompany our letter.