A Guide to Getting Letters of Recommendation

A Guide to Getting Letters of Recommendation

A Guide to Getting Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are a common requirement when applying to a university. But they’re not like any other document you can process on your own. Somebody else has to write these letters to vouch for your talent and skills.

With that in mind, asking for letters of recommendation can be an intimidating ordeal. You don’t have full authority over the content. The least you can do is influence what they write by putting in time and effort.

Asking for a letter of recommendation is a professional transaction. Regardless of your relationship, you have to request these letters with ample preparation. 

Here’s a guide on how you can get letters of recommendation from the right people:

Hand-Pick Your References

Letters of recommendation must encapsulate who you are, what you can do, and how well you do them. These are documents you must present to a graduate school (if you’re a student), or to an employer (if you’re an applicant). 

Your references must be people who know and can speak confidently about your skills. These can be your former professors or your most recent employer.

Most students make the mistake of asking for letters from people in high positions. While a letter from your past CEO may seem impressive, consider other things. Does this person even know you personally? If not, then they cannot produce a persuasive recommendation. It will sound artificial and insincere, which is something you must avoid.

Ask for Permission Early

Recommendation letters affirm the skills, qualifications, and experience you added to your CV. So it’s best to inform your referees early and not make sudden requests.

Send them an email and be straightforward with your purpose. Make sure to carefully phrase your request and state where you’ll use the recommendation letter.

Remember that your selected references are under no obligation to grant your request. If they decline, it’s best to accept their decision rather than force them. If they’re writing against their will, the recommendation may not turn out as great as you expect.

Provide Accurate and Up-To-Date Information

When asking for permission, enclose other supplementary documents as well. You can send a summary document, cover letter, and your CV. This will help them know which skills to highlight and experiences to emphasize. 

You must also include contact details so they can reach you for updates. Make sure that you give a working email and phone number.

Don’t forget to give them ample time to write a favorable recommendation letter. You can ask their permission at least two weeks before you need it. 

Express Gratitude

Once your referees send their recommendation letters, don’t forget to thank them. Acknowledge their effort and offer a gift in return for the favor. Though most referees often decline this offer, you can still do this for courtesy.

Remember to keep your referees on track of your progress too. You must give them a heads up, so they know when to expect a call or email. 

Letters of recommendation can make or break your application to an international university. Find more tips about completing admission requirements here at MSM Unify.


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