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6 Example Emails: How to Ask for a Letter of Recommendation

Navigating the world of networking and recommendations is an essential skill in advancing your career – that’s where asking for a letter of recommendation comes in. Knowing when to ask, who to ask, how to approach the potential recommender, and any other nuances will ensure your letter stands out in a sea of candidates. By following these tips, you’ll be well-equipped to secure a strong, effective letter that helps open doors to new opportunities.

Part 1Identifying the Right People to Ask

Supervisors

Current or previous employers may provide valuable insights into your work habits and capabilities. When selecting supervisors, target those who have experience with your skills, dedication, and professionalism.

Example 1: A supervisor you reported directly to, having worked closely together.

Example 2: A previous employer who appreciated your contributions and work ethic.

Example 3: A manager who can attest to your collaboration skills and professionalism.

Professors

When asking for a letter of recommendation, consider approaching professors who know your academic abilities and potential well. Focus on those who have taught you in multiple classes or who have supervised your research or projects. Make sure that they are familiar with your work ethic and intellectual abilities.

Example 1: A professor that has observed your growth over several semesters.

Example 2: A professor that supervised your thesis or research project.

Example 3: A professor you have a strong rapport with and can speak to your character.

Colleagues

Coworkers can offer perspective on your ability to work with a team, problem-solving skills, plus personal qualities. When asking a colleague for a letter of recommendation, choose someone who has worked closely with you and understands your strengths.

Example 1: A coworker you collaborated with on a successful project.

Example 2: A teammate who can speak to your leadership skills.

Example 3: A colleague who has observed your dedication and resilience in challenging situations.

Mentors

A mentor may not necessarily be a direct supervisor, but someone who has taken an interest in your personal and professional growth. They might be a guidance counselor, coach, or friend with professional connections or experience in your field of interest.

Example 1: A guidance counselor who helped you develop a strong career plan.

Example 2: A coach who witnessed your work ethic and commitment to improvement.

Example 3: A friend in the industry who has mentored you on developing your career path.

 

Part 2Crafting the Request

Email Request

When asking for a letter of recommendation via email, start with a clear subject line. For example:

Subject: Request for a Letter of Recommendation

Begin your email with a polite salutation, addressing the person by their title and last name, like “Dear Dr. Smith,”. Remember to follow email etiquette, using a formal email tone and remaining concise.

In the body of the email, express your appreciation for their time and expertise. Clearly state the purpose of your request, specifying the role or opportunity you’re applying for, and the deadline for submission.

Customize your request by sharing your accomplishments and how their support would strengthen your application. Don’t forget to attach any relevant documents (resume, transcripts, etc.) that would help them write a personalized recommendation.

Example:
Subject: Request for a Letter of Recommendation

Dear Dr. Smith,

I hope this email finds you well. I am reaching out to request your support in writing a letter of recommendation for my upcoming application to the (…) Graduate Program. The deadline for submission is July 1st.

During my time under your guidance in the ABC Lab, I have gained valuable research skills and have made significant contributions to our recent publication. I believe a recommendation from you would greatly strengthen my application.

Please find my resume and transcript attached for your reference. If you need any additional information, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. I truly appreciate your support.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

Personal Meeting

When requesting a face-to-face meeting for a letter of recommendation, ensure you select an appropriate setting, such as their office during office hours. Be respectful of their time, and prepare the necessary materials (resume, transcript, etc.) to present during your conversation.

Once you secure the meeting, begin by expressing your gratitude for their time, and explain the purpose of the request. Specify the role or opportunity you’re applying for and the deadline for submission. Share your accomplishments and the reasons you believe they would be the ideal person to write a strong recommendation for you.

After discussing your request, ask if they would be comfortable writing a positive letter on your behalf. If they agree, provide them with the necessary materials and a thank you note for their time and support.

Part 3Sample Email Asking for a Letter of Recommendation

Template 1: Requesting a letter of recommendation from a former employer

Dear [Employer’s Name],

I hope this email finds you well. I am reaching out to request a letter of recommendation for my upcoming job application. As you know, I worked for [Company Name] for [Duration of Employment] and greatly appreciated the experience and skills I gained during my time there.

I am currently applying for a new position and would be grateful if you could provide a letter of recommendation to support my application. If possible, could you please highlight my strengths and achievements during my time at [Company Name] and speak to my work ethic, reliability, and ability to work in a team environment?

I understand that you are likely busy, so I would be happy to provide any additional information or materials that would be helpful in crafting the letter. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

Best regards, [Your Name]

Template 2: Requesting a letter of recommendation from a professor

Dear [Professor’s Name],

I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to request a letter of recommendation for my graduate school application. I had the pleasure of taking your [Course Name] course during my undergraduate studies and greatly appreciated your guidance and mentorship.

I am now applying to [Graduate School Name] and would be grateful if you could provide a letter of recommendation to support my application. If possible, could you please speak to my academic abilities, research skills, and potential for success in a graduate program?

I understand that you are likely busy, so I would be happy to provide any additional information or materials that would be helpful in crafting the letter. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

Best regards, [Your Name]

Template 3: Requesting a letter of recommendation from a colleague

Dear [Colleague’s Name],

I hope this email finds you well. I am reaching out to request a letter of recommendation for my application to [Program/Position Name]. As you know, we have worked together on several projects and I have always appreciated your professionalism, expertise, and collaborative spirit.

I am now applying to [Program/Position Name] and would be grateful if you could provide a letter of recommendation to support my application. If possible, could you please speak to my skills and experience related to the program/position, as well as my ability to work in a team environment?

I understand that you are likely busy, so I would be happy to provide any additional information or materials that would be helpful in crafting the letter. Please let me know if there is anything specific you would like me to provide.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

Best regards, [Your Name]

Part 4Providing the Necessary Information

Resume

Make sure to include your education, work experiences, skills, and any relevant accomplishments. Update it to reflect current information and highlight areas that are relevant to the letter’s purpose. Providing your resume will help your recommender to focus on your strengths and experiences that make you a good fit for the opportunity.

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Example: If you’re applying for a research position, emphasize your research experiences and skills (e.g., data analysis, research design).

Example: For a job application, focus on your previous job responsibilities, skills developed, and any achievements related to the job requirements.

 

Instructions to provide

Be clear and concise with your instructions, ensuring your recommender understands the requirements for the recommendation letter. Include submission deadlines, format requirements (e.g., electronic or hardcopy), and any other details specific to the application. Don’t forget to provide your recommender with your contact information, so they can reach out if they have questions or need further clarification.

 

Highlighting Your Achievements and Qualities

Academic Achievements

When requesting a letter of recommendation, it’s important to showcase your academic achievements. Share your GPA, awards, or scholarships you’ve received. Highlight relevant courses or projects that demonstrate your knowledge in the field.

Career Development

Mention your career goals and how your achievements align with them. Discuss internships, work experience, or volunteer work related to your chosen profession. This helps the recommender understand your aspirations and shows that you’re motivated to grow in your career.

Example: You completed an internship at a top-tier company, and made significant contributions to a project.

Example: You volunteered at a non-profit, assisting with its marketing initiatives.

Skills and Abilities

List relevant skills and abilities that set you apart from others. Focus on unique strengths such as technical skills, leadership qualities, or problem-solving abilities. Providing examples illustrates your competencies and makes a stronger case for the recommender.

Character

Present your character traits that make you a suitable candidate. Traits like integrity, dependability, and adaptability are important and can speak to your potential for success. Make sure to offer examples that demonstrate these qualities in action.

Example: You showed dedication in college by tutoring peers in challenging subjects.

Example: You displayed adaptability by excelling in a difficult team project with limited resources.

Work Ethic

Your work ethic is crucial to highlight as it demonstrates your commitment to your goals. Explain occasions where you’ve gone above and beyond to accomplish a task. Emphasize diligence, time management, or perseverance in the face of adversity.

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Example: You balanced part-time work with full-time studies, demonstrating strong time management.

Example: You consistently met deadlines for projects while maintaining high-quality work.

Part 5Using a Template for Recommendation Letters

When asking for a letter of recommendation, using a template might be helpful. A well-structured template helps you maintain a professional tone while covering all the necessary information.

Templates are useful, because they guide the person writing the recommendation while ensuring they cover key aspects.

Include any relevant accomplishments or qualities you want the recommender to focus on. This could include academic achievements, professional experience, or skills relevant to the program or position. Make sure to choose elements that’ll demonstrate your abilities and potential. You can also personalize the template by sharing any additional information or anecdotes that the recommender can use to support your application. Share instances where you’ve demonstrated leadership, teamwork, or overcome challenges – this will give the recommender a more complete picture of you as a candidate.

However, ensure the template doesn’t restrict the writer’s input, so they can still provide a personalized and sincere recommendation.

Related: How to Write a Letter of Recommendation: Examples and Templates

Part 6Student Recommendation Letter Template

Dear [Recipient’s Name],

I am writing to recommend [Student’s Name] for [purpose of recommendation]. I have had the pleasure of working with [Student’s Name] for [length of time] and have been consistently impressed with their [qualities, skills, achievements].

[Provide specific examples of the student’s work, such as projects they have completed, skills they have demonstrated, or achievements they have earned.]

[Student’s Name] has consistently demonstrated a strong work ethic, excellent communication skills, and a willingness to learn and grow. I have no doubt that [he/she] will excel in any future endeavors.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions or require additional information.

Sincerely,

[Name]

Part 7Employee Recommendation Letter Template

Dear [Recipient’s Name],

I am writing to recommend [Employee Name] for [purpose of recommendation]. I have had the pleasure of working with [Employee Name] for [length of time] and have been consistently impressed with their [qualities, skills, achievements].

[Provide specific examples of his/her work, such as projects they have completed, skills they have demonstrated, or achievements they have earned.]

[Employee Name] has consistently demonstrated a strong work ethic, excellent communication skills, and a willingness to learn and grow. [He/She] is a valuable team player and always goes above and beyond to ensure that the job is done right.

I strongly recommend [Employee Name] for any position that they may be applying for. [He/She] would be a valuable asset to any organization.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions or require additional information.

Sincerely,

[Name]

Related: Letter of Recommendation: Examples and Templates

Part 8Following Up and Showing Appreciation

Thank You Note

After requesting a letter of recommendation, follow up with a thank you note to express your appreciation. It’s crucial to show gratitude to the person who went out of their way to help you achieve your goal. Whether you send an email or mail a handwritten letter, it will make them feel valued.

Example: “Dear [Recommender’s Name], Thank you for agreeing to write a letter of recommendation on my behalf. Your time and effort are truly appreciated, and I know your insights will be helpful in my application process.”

Reminder Email

It’s common for people to forget deadlines, so sending a gentle reminder email can be useful. Be respectful and approach this tactfully, as you don’t want to sound pushy or demanding.

Example: “Dear [Recommender’s Name], I hope this message finds you well. I wanted to send a friendly reminder about the upcoming deadline for the letter of recommendation on [Date]. Thank you again for your support and assistance.”

Example: “Hi [Recommender’s Name], Just checking in to see if there is anything else you need from me regarding the letter of recommendation due on [Date]. I truly appreciate your help in this process.”

Handwritten Note

A handwritten note adds a personal touch, and it shows you put extra thought and effort into expressing your appreciation. While an email is efficient and quick, a handwritten note can leave a lasting impression.

Example: “Dear [Recommender’s Name], I wanted to take a moment to personally thank you for writing a letter of recommendation for me. I genuinely appreciate the time and effort you put into supporting my application. Your thoughtful insights mean a lot, and I feel incredibly grateful for your help.”

Remember to follow up after receiving your recommendation and keep the recommender updated on the outcome of your application. This shows your ongoing gratitude and helps maintain your relationship with them.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

How to request a recommendation via email?

When requesting a recommendation via email, start by making your subject line clear and concise, such as “Request for Letter of Recommendation.”

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Begin the email by addressing the person you are asking with a formal salutation, like “Dear Dr. Smith” or “Dear Mr. Johnson.”

Explain the purpose of your email and mention the specific opportunity you’re applying for. Politely ask if they can write you a positive recommendation and provide a deadline for submission. Offer any necessary materials to help them write the letter, like your resume or CV. Lastly, include a genuine thank you and sign the email professionally.

Example:

Subject: Request for Letter of Recommendation

“Dear Dr. Smith, I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to request your support in providing a letter of recommendation for my application to XYZ University’s Master’s program in Biology. The deadline for submission is July 15, 2024. If you have any questions or require additional information, please let me know. I have attached my resume and a copy of my personal statement for your reference. Thank you in advance for your assistance. Sincerely, (Your Name)”

 

How to approach a professor for a recommendation?

When approaching a professor for a recommendation, make sure to be polite, respectful, and professional. Meet with them in person during office hours or set up a meeting time. Explain the purpose of the letter and the specific opportunity you’re pursuing. Share why you chose to ask them and indicate any past courses or experiences you’ve had with them. Provide ample time for the professor to fulfill the request, along with any necessary materials like your resume, CV, and information on the opportunity. Lastly, ensure they have a clear understanding of the submission process and deadline, and express your gratitude for their time.

Example: “Hello Dr. Brown, I wanted to discuss the possibility of you writing a letter of recommendation for me. I’m applying for a research internship at XYZ Company, and I believe your expertise in our field would make your recommendation highly valuable. I’ll provide all necessary materials and information, and the deadline is June 30th. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.”

How to ask my boss for a letter in person?

When asking your boss for a letter of recommendation in person, choose a suitable time and location, like during a break or after a meeting. Approach them professionally and confidently. Explain your reason for asking and mention the specific opportunity or position you’re seeking. Provide materials that can help them write the letter, such as your resume or a list of your accomplishments within the company. Offer a clear deadline for the letter’s submission and thank them for their consideration.

Example: “Hey Tom, I have an opportunity to apply for a leadership program, and I was wondering if you could write a letter of recommendation for me. Your insight as my supervisor would be beneficial for my application. I can provide you with my resume and a list of my achievements at the company to make it easier for you. The submission deadline is July 10th, and I’d be grateful for your support.”

Etiquette for requesting an informal recommendation

For an informal recommendation, like a LinkedIn endorsement or a character reference, reach out to someone you have a strong professional relationship with. Be clear about the specific skills or attributes you’d like them to highlight and provide any necessary context or background. Make the request casual but sincere, explaining why their perspective would be valuable. Thank them for their time and support.

Example: “Hi Sarah, would you be open to writing a brief recommendation for me on my LinkedIn profile? I really appreciate your insight on my project management abilities, and I think your feedback would help showcase my skills to potential employers. Thank you so much for considering my request.”

How to reconnect to request a recommendation?

When reconnecting to request a recommendation, start by warming up the relationship with a brief message or call. Share your recent experiences, ask about their well-being, and express gratitude for their previous guidance or mentoring. After re-establishing rapport, mention the opportunity you’re pursuing and ask if they would be willing to write a letter of recommendation. Provide necessary materials and a clear deadline for submission. Thank them for their consideration and support.

Example: “Hi Dr. Martinez, it’s been a while since we last spoke. I hope you’ve been well. As a quick update, I recently completed my Master’s degree and am now exploring PhD opportunities. I’ve found a program at ABC University that seems like a great fit, and I was wondering if you would be willing to write a letter of recommendation for my application. The deadline is September 1st, and I can provide all necessary information and materials. I truly appreciate your support and consideration.”

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