How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

Pen and paper

You’ve gone through the hard part of tailoring your resume to the job description, crafting a beautiful cover letter, and filling out your job application. You’re done now, right? Believe it or not, there is one step you might be missing: a letter of recommendation.

Letters of recommendations are a classic place to stumble on during applications. Is there a right or wrong way when going about asking for a letter of recommendation? To begin, let’s look at the reasoning behind getting a letter of recommendation.

Why Do You Need a Letter of Recommendation?

While letters of recommendation are not as essential as other job application documents like resumes and cover letters, that doesn’t mean that they are not beneficial to your application. A letter of recommendation can set you apart from other candidates, showing your abilities and motivation to get the job in a way that a resume and cover letter could not. It proves that you are willing to put in the extra effort to make a great application, which could end up landing you a job.

How Do You Ask for a Letter of Recommendation?

Depending on your level of experience, there are a variety of people who you can ask for a letter of recommendation. They might be a college professor, past employer, or someone you have worked with in a volunteer organization. Here is a great resource for how to ask a college professor for a letter of recommendation.

Your approach will likely vary by your relationship with the person, including factors like the length, nature, and closeness of your relationship. There are some things that you can keep in mind no matter who you choose to ask for a letter of recommendation.

Here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Plan ahead and give the individual a few weeks to complete the letter. You do not want to feel rushed or rush the individual who is writing your letter.
  • Be patient and give them a week before following up. They are doing you a favor, so be respectful and give them time to fit this act of service into their schedule.
  • Clearly state what you would like them to include in your recommendation. This will make for a more powerful letter that applies to the job you would like to get.
  • Show gratitude. Be thankful even if the person doesn’t write a letter. If they do write a letter of recommendation, send them a physical or electronic thank-you note.

Below is a template for how you can send a letter of recommendation request over email.

Template for Writing a Letter of Recommendation:

Hi [person],

I hope you have been doing well. I’m currently working on an application for [company name]. The application includes a section for a letter of recommendation from someone who is familiar with me, my strengths, and my work ethic. I believe that our time working together would enable you to write an honest letter of recommendation for me.

I know you’re busy, but I’d really appreciate it if you could write a letter of recommendation that shows [skill needed for job]. The application is due by [application deadline]. If you would be willing and available to write a letter of recommendation before this deadline, could you let me know?

Once again, I greatly appreciate your time. If you need any more information to write a letter of recommendation, feel free to contact me with any questions you might have.

Thanks so much for your time,

[your name]

This is a handy template when it comes to writing a request for a letter of recommendation, but this should not be your final draft! Adjust this template. Make it personal to yourself and the person that you will send the email to. People appreciate when you really take the time to personalize what you write.

With this template and the guildelines that we walked through in this article, you should be well on your way to asking for a letter of recommendation. While it can be awkward asking for a letter of recommendation, understand that it is a process that everyone needs to go through at some point. Just get it over with, send that email, and everything will fall into place. Best of luck!


About the Author: Marcus Ralph is an SEO Intern at Hire Integrated a speciality recruiting, executive search and volume staffing agency.


By Guest Blogger | June 15th 2022

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